Thursday, May 19, 2011

Greyhaus Guest Blogger - How Setting My Timer Helps Me Pursue My Dream

Katharine's approach to writer really does represent a lot of writers out there. We have all heard of the authors that have all day to write. They get up in the morning, contemplate their days over coffee and the newspaper. They take the early morning walk and then go for the marathon day of writing. Yet, there is the rest of the world that eek out any chance they get to write. Karen, who frequently posts here has now moved to getting up at 3 am to write before the kids get up.

What I think you will see is the dedication all of these writers have to their dream. They don't make excuses and they work with what they have. Still, they don't quit.


* * *

Some writers have smoke-filled offices, in which they spend their days perfecting their prose in solitude. Their only interruption is the clink of the bottle on their glass as they pour another shot of whiskey.

Not me.

I don’t have an office. Instead I have a kitchen, in which I spend my day homeschooling my five children and baking bread. My interruptions are more numerous than the mateless socks in my endless piles of laundry.

Yet, despite this, I finished my first novel last winter, I post to my blog three times a week, I contribute to my church’s parenting blog, I tweet, Facebook and make dinner every night.

I am hardly Super Mom. I get it all done because I do it in ten minute increments.

It looks like this: I set the timer on my microwave for ten minutes and then start writing. Once the timer goes off, I reset it and empty the dishwasher or fold a load of laundry or start a meal. I also check on the children and make sure no one is bleeding. Once that timer dings, I go back to the computer and get a few sentences out. (Woe to the child who interrupts me while I write!) I do this all afternoon and somehow, everything gets done.

I developed this system because I wanted to do it all. I wanted to give all to my family and pursue my writing dreams. I knew that if I looked for big chunks of time, it would never come. So my theory was that ten minutes were better than none at all. And if I did this six times, I would have written for an hour.

Like you, I believe that my dreams are worth pursuing, and like you, I’m pretty busy. I don’t believe that any writer should wait for the perfect moment, or when the kids are older, or huge chunks of time. I think, instead, that setting a timer, and typing like a mad woman is a better strategy. And while I haven’t been published yet, I will be.

And I may just celebrate with a well-earned shot of whiskey.

Katharine Grubb blogs at


  1. Katharine - That is a fantastic system! I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mother who watches three other children along with my one. And it can get really crazy! But I also put aside time to write every single day. I love your method, and respect that you take your writing seriously; you are obviously a committed writer. I hope we're all reading your novel soon! Thank you for the great post, Elizabeth

  2. That's awesome that you call pull that off. I don't think ten minutes at a time would work for me. I'm going to try it for a day to see if it leaves me hungry. Have a great day!

  3. Katharine, I love this system, I now apply it to soooo many areas of my life that I now feel like your 10 minute child - for me it is now a question of knuckling down to the writing and taking that a little more seriously. You inspire me, thank you.

  4. Katherine,
    I love how you juggle writing and family. I find I write better at work than at home. My children are grown, but I have a house full of grandchildren, and I don't want anything to take away from them. So I write in-between calls. I work on an ambulance, and when I am not on a call I am writing. Of course the alarm will ring and I will rush from my computor to take the call. If I get any kind of an idea while I am out, I jot it down on a piece of paper and when I am finally back at my station, I get back to work on my story. Some days I may get to write a lot and some days will barely touch my computor. I can't wait to see your book out there. You are an inspiration to many. :) Marie