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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Honor Product Time to Honor Creative Process

Creative IdeaIn my response to a comment from Mary (who was in my Writer’s Resistance class), I mentioned showing up for Product Time (something we talked about in that class), so this is probably a good time to explain what I mean by Product Time.

When I coach writers and teach the Writing Habit and Brain Science for Writers classes at the Loft, I recommend three simple practices that can have a profound effect on a writer’s life: Process, Self-Care and Product Time. 85 to 95% of the students and clients who try these practices report that they write more often, feel better about their writing, experience less resistance and feel more satisfied when they follow these three habits.

Here’s the part about Product Time that gives so many students and clients a new freedom: as long as you show up and make yourself available for your writing and don’t do anything else — as long as you’re not sorting your sock drawer, looking for answers in the fridge, playing computer games or working on some other project –- you honor your commitment to Product Time.

No pressure. No demands. No expectations. You don’t have to produce perfect prose, you don’t have to write a certain number of words or pages, you don’t even have to write at all.

It doesn’t matter what you do in your Product Time as long as it’s something you need to do for your writing. Not only can you draft, revise and edit, you can:

  • do research (on topics you’re writing about or about publishing or anything else that’s relevant to you as a writer)
  • moodle and incubate ideas
  • interview characters and write character sketches
  • read writing books
  • do writing exercises or try different writing prompts
  • meet with your writing group
  • take a writing class
  • surf the net and read the News of the Weird for ideas to write about (to make sure this doesn’t become a form of resistance, keep notes on the ideas you find and set a time limit)
  • catch up on the filing (that’s connected to your writing, not your personal or other professional stuff)
  • create a data base to keep track of what you’ve submitted to what editors and agents
  • and so on.

You can even sit with your feet on the desk, staring out the window or at the place where the wall meets the ceiling wondering how the heck you’re going to get Character A to Place B, or organize that mess of material for that article or essay, or solve any other writing quandary.

If you show up consistently for Product Time, you’ll move your writing forward. And you’ll move a lot faster than you will if you think you’re supposed to have your fingers on the keyboard every day. There are 6 stages in the creative process and in only 1 of those 6 will you be generating and revising words. Product Time is a way to honor all the things a writer needs to do to move through all 6 stages.

And the best part of all is that you only have to show up for Product Time for 15 Magic Minutes. More about that in my next post.

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