Sound Bite Sunday

Guest post by Randi Beck

My current day job involves equal parts mind-numbing monotony (think walking very slowly through a grocery store while using a calculator) and twenty or so Billboard pop songs played on loop (think Maroon 5—all day, every day.) So rather than sink further into a Sisyphisian state of depression, I said screw the no-headphones rule and started downloading podcasts.

It turns out you can find a podcast on pretty much anything, including writing. I have found some to be surprisingly motivating and/or educational. I have also found some to be terrible. So I have weeded through dozens of podcasts to bring you this weekly list of recommended listening, which will heretoafter be known as “Sunday Sound Bites.”

Some of these will focus on craft and productivity, others feature author interviews, and some are just good writerly fun. A few may not be about writing, specifically, but should prove useful in developing your writing habit or motivating you when the going gets tough. I hope you’ll find at least a few that you enjoy. Continue reading

Day 2: The Power of 15 Minutes

Whenever Randi and I go anywhere together, I find myself waiting. “I’ll be right there,” she says and then she struggles with her contact lens, searches the house for her wallet, decides it is a good time to re-organize our shoes. Meanwhile, I’ve already got my coat on; my bag is slung over one shoulder; if we are taking the dog for a walk, she is pulling the leash taut. I wait against the door frame; the dog sits at the bottom of the steps; Randi readies herself. Five. Ten. Fifteen minutes pass.

ABQ Central Bus

ABQ Central Bus

Here are a some other times, I find myself with fifteen minutes:

  • while waiting for the bus
  • while waiting for a class to start
  • while waiting for the doctor
  • while waiting for my food to be ready (at a restaurant)
  • while waiting for my alarm to sound in the morning so I can pry myself out of bed

Here are the things I usually do to kill fifteen minutes

  • check my email
  • check my facebook account
  • hit the snooze button
  • check the weather
  • stand in the doorway and ask Randi if there is something I can do to help

Here is what I could have been doing instead:

  • writing

Productivity experts talk about “the Power of Fifteen Minutes” all the time. As Neen James, one expert, points out: “People go wrong because they get overwhelmed. They think things will take longer than they do, and so they procrastinate. Procrastination key? Fifteen minutes.” Her overall point: stop making excuses. In fifteen minutes, one can accomplish a lot. So:

  • Get to the coffee shop fifteen minutes early
  • Wake up fifteen minutes earlier
  • Go to bed fifteen minutes later
  • Carry your notebook with you everywhere
  • Eliminate waiting
  • Stop thinking there isn’t enough time.

Here on Day 2, with the rest of the month before us, I think it is important to keep in mind the 15 minute rule. May there be more people with pens at bus stops.


A Fifteen Minute Writing Exercise (that could go longer, of course)

This one comes from fellow challenger Chris Strickling, and it’s a beautifully simple writing prompt:

Write about a powerful memory.

As Chris says, “We started with that in the theater work I did for 12 years with disabled adults. Just that simple prompt started the creative flow that would take us all the way to performance.”


Got an exercise to share?

A minor note: Last night’s post took me upwards of 3 hours. Today, Randi said that in honor of the day’s post, this one should fall within the 15 minute mark. Other than uploading photographs and last minute edits, I made it right under the wire…