Thursday, February 3, 2011

Write or Die

A student came by yesterday for a conference and happened to tell me about a web site, Which is actually what I used to draft this post. It's a pretty simple concept. You set yourself a time limit and a goal of then a certain number of words. (I chose ten minutes to come up with 200 words.) The site provides you with a text box with a timer and word count at the bottom. If you don't keep typing, the screen goes from pink to red to darker red, and then a horn starts to blare, and eventually the program starts erasing the words you have already typed. It's basically a way of forcing yourself to write, leaning more heavily on sticks than carrots.

It's been almost two months since I've posted anything on Throughlines and I knew I needed some kind of a kick in the pants to get myself started again. So this is as good a start as any, I guess. I gave myself ten minutes to come up 200 words. Right now I've got four and a half minutes left 34 words to go, so unless I run off the rails and into a rock wall I'll probably make it. Then I can go ahead and post this and say to myself, there, it's done.

At least the first draft — of exactly 200 words until I started editing it — was done. Then I just copied what I wrote there into the Blogger window, proofread and tidied up.

Process Reflection:

Well, it served the purpose, and I can see it would be a cool tool in certain situations. There's something a little franticness-inducing about typing while keeping an eye on a timer. The experience reinforced for me how much stop and go, how much thinking and re-thinking I normally do while I'm writing. Often, it's actually a kind of meditation practice. This time, it didn't feel like that.


emily mccarren said...

Maybe a neat peek into what writing often feels like in our classrooms. Horns about to blare and all. Thanks for sharing, Bruce!

Maureen said...

Love it ... I've been staring at my own page, checking FB, simply not writing, even though I really need to. This site might help me, too. Thanks for sharing.