How to Write in 30 Second Bursts

No time, no motivation, no muse, no brain, no writing, blahhhhh mehhhh ughhhh etc.

Fuck that.

None of us have time. Motivation is self-propellant. The muse is a slippery bitch. And your brain is actually much better at getting on with shit than you give it credit for.

So. Reverse psychology yourself.

Restrict your writing time EVEN MORE.

Yeah, you heard. Train yourself to be a writing ninja. Learn how to write in 30 second bursts. Badbing badaboom.

Gif of a black and white countdown from ten to zero.

Here’s how you do it:

#1. Make sure you have some method of making words happen. Eg: Get yourself a notebook, a scrap of paper, the back of a utility bill, whatever. Use the notes app on your phone, send an email to yourself, whateverrrrrrr.

#2. Find a brief, fleeting moment of quiet. It need only be verrrrry brief. Waiting for the kettle to boil. During an ad break. Sitting on the toilet (shut up, we know you’ve got your phone in your hand anyway). Standing at the bus stop. Pretending to write notes in a really boring meeting.

#3. Set a timer for 30 seconds. Not minutes. SECONDS. Half a minute. That’s all you have. That’s all you need.

#4. QUICK! YOU ONLY HAVE 30 SECONDS! WRITE WHATEVER’S IN YOUR HEAD! GET IT OUT ON THE PAGE! IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU WRITE ABOUT, JUST GET SOME WORDS DOWN! QUICK, ARGH, BEFORE THE ALARM GOES OFF!

#5. Phew. Breathe. Done. Forget about it. Carry on with your day.

Wait! Look! Another little smidgeon of downtime! The kids are being quiet because they’re scarfing down their dinner. Your other half is taking a fucking age deciding what to watch on Netflix. Loitering in the slowwwest a supermarket queue.

Repeat from step #2

Gif of a man making s silly face pretending to type on a typewriter with his index fingers. Caption says: tippy tippy tap!

In fact, you don’t even need to wait for those tiny nuggets of time. Random idea strikes? Whack it in email to yourself. Came up with the perfect one-liner for your protag? Turn on the voice recorder app and try it out. 3:AM strike of inspiration? Scribble it down in your dedicated by-the-bed notebook (and then probably fail to decipher it the following morning).

Get used to making use of every scrap of writing time.

Challenge yourself to channel your literary powers any time, anywhere, under any circumstances.

Forget about perfection.

You’re never gonna get the perfect desk set-up or the perfect distraction-free situation or the perfect inspiring state of mind.

You don’t have to bang out 1,000 words a day – or even 100 – to make tangible progress. But, by keeping your story ticking over in your head and checking in with it at teeny, regular, frequent intervals during the day, you’re far more likely to find it easier to dive back into it when you DO find some ‘proper’ time to write.

And even though the majority of those 30 second bursts might be utter nonsense, occasionally you’ll scrawl down a solid gold snippet of genius that will renew your faith in your story and leave you desperate for the next tiny chunklet of writing time.

Little by little, you’ll move forward.

And sometimes that’s all we can do.

30 seconds at a time.

Jo Gatford

Jo Gatford

Jo is a writer who procrastinates about writing by writing about writing. She looks exactly like her avatar.
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