Honesty in stories. Truth in words.

Writing in the Midst of Life


I’m a college student. (Though only part time this semester hallelujah!!). That means 15-20 hours a week are dedicated to school.

I work part time. Another 15 hours each week.

I read 7-10 books a month. (No idea the hours on that.)

I’m a musician. Approx 3 hours a week (I’m in a slump right now).

I’m a martial artist. 1 or 2 days a week, I’m at the Dojang for 3 hours each time.

I’m trying to shave down blogging to an hour or two per month.

Somewhere in all of that, I have to have some kind of family life.

Yet I also want to write.

So how do I do it?

To be honest, not very well. A lot of days, I feel like I’m riding a spiraling roller coaster into “the depth of despair” (as Anne of Green Gables would say).

Other days, I sorta feel like I come out on top.

So what makes the difference?

Let me introduce you to this lovely little device called a timer.

The timer has changed my life. I decide how much time I want to dedicate to a particular project, then split it up into 20, 30, or 50 minute increments, depending on how my brain is functioning. Here’s how it works.


After a 20 minute set, I get a 5 minute break. That’s enough for 20 pushups and a fresh cup of water, or 3 TaeKwonDo forms.


After a 3o minute set, I get an 8 minute break. That’s enough to make a cup of coffee, do a quick desk tidy-up, or 5 TaeKwonDo forms.


After a 50 minute set, I get a 20 minute break. That’s enough to read a chapter of a book, reply to an email, play with the dog…or write 250 words.



Here’s the most important thing: set a timer for the breaks, too!!!! You’ll regret it if you don’t. (Speaking from experience.)

And also, switch between two projects/school subjects. Twenty minutes on this, twenty minutes on that. I was shocked with how my productivity skyrocketed when I did that.

If I don’t do that, this is what happens.


*clears throat* *coughs* yeah–not what I wanted.


So, this is great and all, but what does it have to do with writing?

A lot!! When I get done what I need to get done during the day, my evenings are free to write. Or edit. Or outline. Or–whatever! But even when I’m writing, I set a timer. Seeing exactly when I’m going to get a break helps me remain focused.




What do you do to keep yourself on track? Have you ever used a timer?


12 comments so far.

12 responses to “Writing in the Midst of Life”

  1. Hannah E. says:

    That is such an awesome idea! Timers are literally lifesavers. I used to time my computer time so that I wouldn’t be on too long and it really helped. I should do that again. ;) I also find that if you’re not on a huge time scrunch, school is so much more fun when you interchange a school subject and reading in the fiction book you’re in. It makes school actually pretty fun! :)

  2. (*scurries off to go get a timer*)

  3. Marrok says:

    Great post! man your life sounds busy. I am also a college student so I know what your taking about. I do more or less the same thing. I knock down all that I need to get done for school then with whatever time I have lift I use to write, draw, tinker or just do nothing. Sometimes I even take a small break during School work to just step outside and take a breath of fresh air

    • Ivy says:

      Thanks, Marrok! It is–but I so wish it wasn’t. Then again, I’m learning a lot about time management, so there is an upside. :)

      You are! What are you studying?

      Fresh air is SO wonderful. Though here in Washington, it has gotten quite cold and miserable outside–but the freshness is still nice, so long that it doesn’t freeze your lungs! :)

      • Marrok says:

        Yeah time management is defiantly something that is very important. :)

        Well right now I’m studying Intro to Christian Theology. what are you studying?

        I love the cold, it never gets too cold over here but it defiantly helps to take a breather when everything seems so overwarming

        • Ivy says:

          I’m in intro to government, and intro to communications. -_- Why must they all be “intro this,” “intro that”????? I just don’t get it. Christian Theology sounds much more interesting.

          Lucky you. Cold is miserable. I greatly dislike the cold weather. ;-)

          • Marrok says:

            oohhh Government and communication. And yes those “intros” classes can get interesting. Sometimes I’m like “I’m glad this is only the intro class”

            Yes the Intro to Christian Theology class is very cool!

            hahah funny how that works. The ones in the cold often hate it, while the ones in the warm often love it :D

          • Ivy says:

            Haha, glad I’m not the only one thinking, “glad this is just the intro…” :)

  4. Katja L. says:

    I LOVE doing Writing Sprints! I just recently discovered them, and they are SO USEFUL. Focusing on a small goal, passing it, and keeping on to your big goal—so useful for things like NaNo—deadlines or word counts. It’s also useful when you have only a vague idea, or even no idea, what to write—it just comes pouring out! :)

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