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Writing in Blocks Can Help Keep You Focused

by The Procrastinating Writer on July 7, 2009

courtesy of Holger Zscheyge

courtesy of Holger Zscheyge

By Jennifer Blanchard

It’s often difficult for writers to find large blocks of time where they can sit down and write. It also tends to be difficult to stay on-task for long periods of time.

That’s where block writing can be an extremely good method of getting writing done.

Here’s how block writing usually works:

  • Sit down and write for an allotted block of time (Usually ranging from 30 minutes to 120 minutes, depending on your schedule) without stopping (This means no surfing the Internet, no checking your e-mail and no walking away from your computer).
  • After the time you allotted is up, take a short break. This is also a good time to reward yourself for actually sitting down and writing. A reward can be anything from 30 minutes of TV time to an ice cream sundae to going for a walk. Whatever makes you feel rewarded.
  • Go back and write again for an allotted block of time. (A second block of writing time depends on your schedule, of course.)
  • Another method of block writing includes scheduling blocks of time throughout your day/week. So for example, maybe my schedule has me writing for 30 minutes at 11:30 a.m., for 30 minutes at 8:45 p.m., for 20 minutes tomorrow at 4 p.m. and 60 minutes on Thursday at 9 a.m.

Writing in blocks can make it easier to stay on task because you know that you only have to write for a short amount of time before you get to take a break (and get a reward!).

Block writing also works well for people with schedules that only allow them to have small blocks of time available for writing.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ivy Merwine July 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Great post! A simple and productive idea. Thanks for sharing! I’m going to check my schedule right now! 🙂

2 HD Silversmith July 8, 2009 at 10:46 am

Writing in blocks is about the only way I write — I “chunk” the work into time periods and, during the academic year when I’m teaching, I also schedule those time periods into my Outlook calendar as appointments (–> with myself –> to write).

3 The Procrastinating Writer July 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

@HD Silversmith I’m going to give block writing a try over the next couple weeks. I’ve always been kinda of all over the place with my writing times, and half of the time, when I sit down to write, I end up going on Facebook or Twitter and accomplishing zero writing. I think block writing may be a solution for me.

4 HD Silversmith July 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I totally get the all-over-the-map thing, believe me. Writing in blocks allows me to focus on discrete, definable tasks and move forward. And as I’ve said before, I *have* to turn off my browser during those times, or I end up on FB and Twitter myself!

5 Andy Bee July 10, 2009 at 6:43 am

My typical writing day, as I work full time, currently consists of;
Get to work 30 minutes early and get 25 minutes of writing/editing in the works canteen.

Lunchtime; Eat lunch and reread/edit earlier work for 25 minutes.

Evening; Utilise Netbook whilst waiting for to collect Mrs Bee from work.

This has the advantage of utilising ‘spare’ time, but the downside is that it’s easy to lose the thread of what a character is doing/saying and continuity in general becomes an issue.

On the rare occasions that I have been able to write in blocks (holidays or weekends), I find the quality of my work improving and fewer continuity problems to correct.

Recommended if your characters aren’t to experience two sunsets in one day or forgetting their own children’s names (Yes, that’s really happened!).

Block-write if you can. If you can’t, use whatever ‘spare time’ you have.

Don’t dream it – Do it!

6 Jean July 28, 2009 at 9:11 pm

I had a problem getting writing done also. So, in order to get words on the page I put myself on internet diet. Meaning no internet until “First 500” words are written.

Since I have a regular writer’s chat at noon, it’s a good reason to get the writing done first thing in the morning instead of waiting until the afternoon when things and kids get hectic.

Plus, I don’t have to deal with the guilt of not writing:-)

The first week, the writing was kinda of iffy and mostly dreck but this past week, things have really been going really well. I’m actually looking forward to writing first thing in the mornings now.

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