Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writer's Tools: The Egg Timer

I’m doing another writing workshop. I know what you’re thinking. Another one? Really?

Yes. Another one. I have a problem.

Anyway, with the Mills & Boon New Voices Competition coming up I know a lot of writers have discovered the joy of writing under pressure. It’s. Not. Easy. All of a sudden it’s tough to get those words down. It’s tough to get your butt in the chair to write at all and the toilet has never been cleaner.

This is where the humble egg timer comes in.

On the days where writing feels like each word is being torn out of you it’s easy to throw in the towel, but that’s not how novels are written. Five minutes of writing are better than no minutes. And enough five minute sessions add up to a novel, eventually. By setting a timer you have no excuse by to focus on your writing (instead of the clock!) for every second of those five minutes.

Now, I didn’t want to use my kitchen egg timer for the simple reason that it scares the hell out of me if I’m too close to it when it goes off. So I started looking at the different electronic egg timer programs available, which means that you won’t have to.

Some timers require you to be on the internet to use them, and while they’re cute, that’s really counterproductive. Hello, social media land and a 0 word count. Go me. So it’s the downloadable timers that I’ve been trying and they have the added benefit of traveling along with my computer wherever I go. Quick and painless, and hey, with this type of timer I can turn the noise down and not fall out of the chair when it goes off.

Did I mention the programs are free?

I downloaded a few programs. I’m fussy like that. Here’s my top two:

Cool Timer 

Image from
It’s not great for anyone who hates color but on the up side you’re not going to lose it on your desktop in a hurry. If you’re horrified by the pink, never fear, you can select the color of the background, buttons and numbers. This one is my favorite because I don’t have to go through the menu bar to set the time and I can have my pick of noises (buzzer is my choice). 

Egg Timer Plus v3

Image from
This is the second favorite and I’m taking pity on the people who are deathly allergic to anything bright. In this timer you have to go through the menu options to set it and a lot of its functions are disabled unless you want to pay for access. So there’s no picking your noises, however, it’s less likely that a business colleague will spot it.

Both timers let you open multiple versions of the program at once, so you can set different times before you start writing. This is great if you’re switching between activities e.g. 20 minutes of writing and 20 minutes of email.  I hope you find them handy and helpful with those competition entries and submissions.

Happy writing!



Anonymous said...

Learning to write on a deadline is crucial, and I like your plan. Good luck!!

Talli Roland said...

Great tip! When I'm drafting, I use the timer on Write or Die. It's fantastic!

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks Aimee!

Talli - I'd forgotten about Write or Die! I think it's fantastic too.

Frances Garrood said...

I think the egg timer is a brilliant idea. I shall use mine today!

Jackie Ashenden said...

Go Lacey! That sounds awesome.

Lacey Devlin said...

Fances - I'm glad you found it helpful. May your word count soar.

Jackie - I hope it helps. Not that you really need any help with your productivity ;-) Go Jackie!

Patsy said...

You're right - 5 minutes of writing is a lot better than none at all.

Lacey Devlin said...

Patsy - Lol. It's my new motto for when the writing gets tough.

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