In my quest to help both myself and you get to the next level, I am constantly on the lookout for writing ideas and techniques that people have used successfully. One source I’ve found very helpful is copyblogger.com. While it focuses on copywriting, it often has creative suggestions for courting your muse.
One post on this site described an intriguing technique that Eugene Schwartz, a “Mad Man” known for his legendary ad copy, used to avoid writing blocks and get himself going each day. I’ve seen this approach suggested elsewhere, so it caught my attention. Apparently, our boy Eugene used it to write nine books, tons of articles, and lots of innovative ads.
In a nutshell, after doing all his research on a specific project, Eugene would sit at the same desk every day with his notes, his pens and other writing equipment. Then he would set an ordinary kitchen timer for 33.33 minutes. Once the timer was ticking, he had only a few rules:
1. He could drink coffee
2. He could stare out the window, or at the wall
3. He could sit and do absolutely nothing for 33.33 minutes
4. He could write the ad
5. He could not leave the chair for any reason
6. He could not do anything else
Usually, he would sit for a few minutes staring at the page, and then, because he couldn’t get up, he would just start writing. When the timer rang he would stop wherever he was, take a 10-15 minute break and then set the timer again. He did this six times a day, five days a week.
Now, I know, I know, we’re all working on the Great American Novel, not ads for E-Trade or Verizon. Even so, it might be worth giving this a try, even just as a way to jump start your writing day. Let me know if it works for you. I have a spiffy little robin’s-egg blue timer my husband David gave me recently, so I’m going to give this a spin myself. If nothing else, it should be fun. Write on!