I broke out of hospital last Sunday, but having now researched into my surgery and recovery more (previously I played ostrich on the event) I have discovered that of all the medical procedures out there, I appear to have happened upon the one that provides a legitimate excuse for actually not writing.
Nevertheless, I’m giving it a shot, starting with this blog post – done in very small chunks.
One week after the actual surgery, I am recovering well compared to many women, but I also have doctor’s orders to “not do anything”. For weeks. He wrote the phrase down, so I couldn’t play ostrich on that one.
This is the first time I have little choice but to not play superwoman, and actually follow instructions. I can’t sit up for longer than ten minutes, and can’t lift objects heavier than a couple of pounds. There are bouts of pain and tiredness that leave me in no confusion as to who’s in charge – and it’s not me.
Enough with that.
The upshot is that I can’t sit for longer than ten minutes at my writing desk without the pain becoming unbearable – and lying prostrate on my bed and resting is a good thing, but not with an incredibly heavy laptop parked on top of body parts I really don’t want objects near. I have an iPAD, but it’s not the best for functional typing (excellent for e-reading and other tasks below).
Walluh, and plausible excuse for not writing. Or typing, at least.
This is my one chance at a good recovery, so I need a workaround.
Working in Small Bites
I’ve previously discussed the Pomodoro technique – which breaks tasks down into 20 minute slots, and formulates these with a timer (traditionally a tomato).
Kristi Holl recently wrote a blog post on 20 minute slices – Chop! Chop! Writing in 20-Minute Slices. There are some good examples of 20 minute tasks for fiction writers, and other writing tasks such as –
- Revise (or tighten) opening
- Read one blog post and leave a comment
- Write physical character description of mother (examples chosen randomly – read Kristi’s full post from the link above).
The post suggests that a list of such tasks be split out into areas such as “outlining steps, “creative steps” like thinking of character and setting names, mechanical steps (e.g. write opening paragraph), revision steps, and marketing steps”. Which makes good sense.
I’m confined to creating tasks I can accomplish in a shorter space of time. Ten minutes goes by quickly, but my energy (and pain) levels are pretty random at the moment, so I sometimes have a little more time to finish off tasks, and many in my own list can be put down and picked up again later. Nah, I don’t use a timer. I go with the flow.
For those aware of me being back online – confirming comments on this blog, some social media stuff – it may appear somewhat random – which it is at this point.
But here is my own growing list of writing tasks I am attempting when I feel up to it. These fit approximately into ten minute spots:
Ten Minute Writing Tasks (Personal List)
Blog and Other Social Media
- Write this blog post and publish (several 10 minute chunks, over several days)
- Facebook Like reciprocations
- Read twitter stream
- Read other blog posts (via Feedly) and Buffer (several 10 minute chunks)
- Email wrangling
Note: despite all my dreams about using a hospital stay to read a lot, this didn’t eventuate. I was just too fuzzy-headed for most of the time, unable to get to my reading glasses, and kept busy with nurses turning up every hour for blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, other tests and the pimping of medicinal aides and drugs.
- Read what you want. Enjoy it. Fiction / non-fiction books
- Couple of mags to browse through
- Blog posts
Some examples relevant to my current project(s) :
- Character exercises – purse/bag/carry around, journal, second dimension (background)
- Transfer revision notes to relevant scene cards.
- Rewrite / reassess specific scenes
- Write 500 words first flash fict
Obviously, my list is much longer than this, and I will admit that even writing out such a list of so many tasks, no longer how small, sometimes makes it look “too much”. I’m not a person who gets on well with written to-do lists, and checking off dones, so having a long list works as more of a demotivator than a productivity enhancer.
But, as I said, I’m going with the flow, and tackling tasks as they appeal.
Writing is possible in very small chunks. What other methods do you use to inspire your own writing productivity?