The ability to express yourself with the written word is critical, especially in the digital universe. 45dgree is always on the hunt for new contributors and talent and we regularly (here) hear “I can’t write”, p’shaw we say and so we connected with an old friend and award winning writer, Mark Bellusci to hep us put the matter in perspective and give us some tips about how to make writing an enjoyable experience! – stephen berner/45dgree
Meet the rock stars of writing (even if they don’t know it).
Even in the digital / visual / social media age, writing still rules. Whether you want to persuade, explain, entertain or sell, if you can’t get your ideas across in words, the rest of it is just eye candy.
To hone your writing skills, take a look at a writing rock star: Plato.
The classical Greek philosopher Plato was a mathematician, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy of Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.
He was also one of the first regular users of an alarm clock (a water alarm clock, specifically). And that makes him a writing rock star.
Set an alarm, spare the writing angst.
How many times have you sat down in front of a blank page and froze? Like I do on just about every piece I write, including this one. You think about how much you have to accomplish, how many pages to fill, what to say, how to say it, why it needs to be said, and on and on and on.
Minutes, hours, days later, and the page is still blank.
That’s why you need to take a lesson from Plato and make a simple alarm clock (or timer) your most important writing tool. Here’s how:
- When you’re ready to write, set the alarm for a short amount of time. I’m talking really short. For years, I used a 15-minute alarm. Now I’ve moved all the way up to 20 minutes.
- Turn the clock face down so you can’t see the time. There’s nothing worse than watching the clock while writing. Sometimes, it feels like you’re laboring for hours on end and the clock is refusing to move.
- Don’t worry about how much you’ve written. Now I know some writers opt for a word or page count instead of a time count, but I don’t want that pressure. I just want to know that I put in a solid 15 or 20 minutes and kept the keyboard (or pencil) hopping.
- Now that your alarm is set and you’re not watching the clock, let loose with the writing. Of course it’s hard, but it’s only 15 or 20 minutes – come on, anyone can get through that.
- Here’s the magical part. Once you relax knowing you only have to put up with writing hell for 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. It’s like you’ve removed all the fears, doubts and distractions simply by using an alarm clock.
- And here’s the even more magical part. When that alarm goes off, you may actually shut it and keep writing because you’ll be in a groove and will want to keep going. When that happens, just set that alarm again and do a double session.
- From personal experience, I’ve found that the alarm clock approach works wonderfully with short snippets as well as hundred-page manuscripts. Just break up your longer writing projects into 15- or 20-minute writing segments, with five-minute walking/coffee/book/video game breaks in between. Believe me, you’ll get a lot more done with this approach than with those chained-to-the-desk, have-to-have-thirty-pages-written-by-five torture sessions.
So for less painful, more productive writing, turn on your alarm clock. It’s a philosophy we can all agree on.
Next Rock Star of Writing: Frank Lloyd Wright
Mark Bellusci is a freelance copywriter, published playwright and award-winning filmmaker. And he does it all in twenty-minute segments, using his trusty phone alarm clock. One day, he hopes to be comfortable with writing – in the meantime, he’ll keep his alarm clock handy. See his stuff at markbellusci.com and markbellusci.com/video.
Copyright © Mark Bellusci, 2012