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Writer's Bootcamp: The DRAW Method

Billie Hara

Every two weeks, we at ProfHacker publish articles about how to be productive in your writing. All the suggestions we provide actually work. That is, they work for some people some of the time. But they do work. A writer’s goal, aside from producing text, is to find tricks and tips that work, and those tips change from person to person. Today we present a different type of tip: “The DRAW method” of writing. This method can work for everyone.

The DRAW method is a 20-minute program that gets you writing each day. All you need is a timer (and we’ve written about these before), and something to write about. The DRAW Method stands for:

D: Declutter

R: Read

A: Assess

W: Write

  • Declutter:Set your timer for five minutes, and clear your desk while the clock ticks. Maybe you clear the surface of your desk. Maybe you clean out one file drawer. Maybe you straighten the books on your shelf. Whatever it is you need to do to declutter your workspace (and by extension, your mind), you can do. But just spend five minutes. You’ll be able to spend five minutes tomorrow clearing something else. (I tend to be a bit obsessive about thinking I “need” to clean before I can write. Setting the timer keeps me from doing laundry, washing dishes, and walking the dog. I only spend five minutes decluttering.) When the timer goes off, you can move to the next stage: Read.

  • Read:To get your mind ready for words, pick up a book, and spend five minutes reading. Maybe this reading is related to your major writing project, or maybe it’s something fun (a magazine, a newspaper). Remember, you only have five minutes, but notice the words on the page. Recognize the sentence structure, the vocabulary, the descriptions. (I tend to read texts that inspire me.) When the timer goes off, you can move to the next stage: Assess.

  • Assess:Spend five minutes assessing your current projects. What is the most important of all the things you have to do? What is the most interesting? What do you need to first? Where do you need to focus your energies today? As you assess your projects, you can prioritize them. (I tend to group my writing, sources, and notes together and place them in piles on the floor. This helps me “see” the work I have to get done.) When the timer goes off, you can move to the next stage: Write.

  • Write:Finally, you can write. You can continue to use your timer, spending five minutes (or whatever is comfortable for you) on each project or each aspect of the larger project. The timer is fundamental, though. Give yourself a set number of minutes to write. When the timer stops, you can check email or Twitter. But use the timer to keep your “breaks” to short intervals of time. Then get back to work writing.

If you do not own a kitchen timer, you can use these \ online timers: Online Stopwatch, Class Timer, or TimeMe.

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