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今日推荐英文原文：《Writing Constraints Work》
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今日推荐英文原文：《Writing Constraints Work》作者：Sloane Miller
Writing Constraints Work
You have 10 minutes; go!You don’t have all day; really you don’t. You have something you want to say, you want to craft it into an article or a story, and you want it to be done already (most writers — beginning, intermediate, and expert — find writing a painful process). So what’s stopping you?
Probably too much time. Too much time can be the killer of creative impulses. Too much time means you can procrasti-bake every recipe from this season’s Great British Bake Off (and the season before that and the season before that). Too much time means you can finally get to cleaning the yellowing grout in your bathroom, only after you watch a few hours of YouTube tutorials on how to do it, of course. Too much time means you can start that home exercise routine you’ve been meaning to start all quarantine, but first you need to read up on which routines are free to stream, which routines are best for your age, and, wait, you don’t have the right equipment; you now need to scroll Amazon for all your new home gym togs. Hours later, you may have other tasks done (or maybe not) but that great-American-creative-as-of-yet-unnamed-project is still sitting in your imaginary drawer.
Too much time means you can and will ignore the scary creative thing you want to tackle because it might turn out to be awful, you might not be good at it, someone has already done it better — basically you might fail, spectacularly.
Too much time can be a paradox of choice or a choice overload — all fancyish terms for “you have too much and you need less to actually get the thing done.”
You need a constraint.
In improvisational comedy, we practice being creative within constraints because limiting the number of possibilities available to you often frees you up to improvise and create more easily. For example, you tell a one-word story with 12 people, but each word has to start with the next letter of the alphabet and it should make sense. Creating that story has a set of rules, but the creators can play and experience even more freedom to play within those rules.
With that in mind, what if I gave you just 10 minutes on a timer. Ten minutes to start that novel you’ve been putting off. Ten minutes to tackle that tricky part of the dialogue you’ve been mulling over. Ten minutes to describe the smell of your procrasti-bake cookies in the oven right now (we all do it, no shame).
“But I can’t get anything done in 10 minutes?!” you exclaim. “I need days and weeks, maybe years, to write my great-American-creative-as-of-yet-unnamed-project!” You can have all those days and weeks and years to do that, but let’s start right now with just 10 minutes.
Why 10 minutes? Admittedly, it’s totally arbitrary. (Although in doing a quick Google search I see there has been quite a lot written on the topic.)
- Ten Minute Rule
- The 10 Minute Rule It Seems Crazy, But it Will Revolutionize Your Productivity
- Death by a Thousand 10-Minute Tasks: Workarounds and Noncompliance in University Research Administration
10 minutes works for me because:
- It’s an easier chunk of time to find in my day (versus 60 minutes, ugh).
- Ten minutes feels very achievable, doable. (I love checking something off my to-do list.)
- If I only have 10 minutes, I just gotta start writing — no time to waste.
- After 10 minutes, I have options. I can edit what I’ve done for another 10, I can continue to do more, or I can call it a day until tomorrow and my next 10-minute chunk.
(And yes, I did a draft of this piece in 10 minutes.)