Stupid Writing Tricks…

See that man with the Coke cans on his head?

Why is he doing that?

What possible gain could be achieved by sucker-planting a half dozen Coke cans on your head?

Let me tell you this.

The mind is a monkey and easily tricked.

You can convince yourself to do anything that you want to do – even if you don’t want to do it. All that you have to do is fabricate a little motivation.

Trick that mind hard enough and you can cheerfully skip across a bed of smoldering coals.

In my last blog entry I cross-blogged to fellow blogger Lauren Waters site where she discussed a motivational trick that was explained in a LifeHacker article on Jerry Seinfeld.

Here’s a link to that article.

I have decided to adopt that method. I have a calender and a red marker and I have already scratched my first X for 1000 words of writing. Well, actually, I did about 1500 words today. Still not a lot for a day’s worth of work – but it is a start.

I intend to keep that red chain growing.

Now I know that there are folks out there who are reading this and saying to themselves – “Hey, this is Steve Vernon. The dude who chews up syllables and spits out chapters. The man is a born writing machine.

Well – you are right. I have, in the past, put a tremendous amount of work out there. Since 2004 I’ve written SEVEN regional books through local publisher Nimbus. I have written about a dozen e-books – and am working on another. I have written about a dozen novellas and a couple of full length horror novels. I have written umpteen blog entries and a thousand Facebook entries – not to mention poems, book reviews, articles, interviews and even a couple of recipes.

But lately I have been having a little bit of difficulty. I have got a lot on my mind. Bills to pay and a few personal issues and just the usual sort of psychic bricabrac that all of us face on a day-to-day level. Nothing huge, nothing drastic – but these last few months I have been having a hard time producting consistently.

So I’m going to use this stupid little trick to try to get myself back on the track.


Because stupid tricks work.

I’ve got another stupid trick for you.

This one involves a cooking timer. It looks like a plastic tomato. I can set it to tick for a whole hour. And that’ what I do. I set it for an hour and let that silly little plastic tomato tick on – and while it is ticking I do NOTHING but write on my manuscript.

I don’t check my e-mail.

I don’t check my Facebook.

I don’t even freaking Tweet!

When it goes “ding” I stop writing.

Oddly enough, by the time that goes ding, I usually have a thousand or so words.

I do that for two months steady and I have a book.

Still needs to be edited. Still needs to be revised.

But in two months – a thousand-freaking-words an hour and I have a fair-sized novel.

So that’s all there is folks. People wonder what it takes to write a book.

All that it takes is a red plastic tomato cooking timer, one calender, and a red Sharpee marker.

This isn’t freaking rocket science.

Stupid tricks work.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: I should mention that I got that tomato-timer trick from an entry in Salt Lines from Nova Scotia writer Gwen Davies

And if you want to learn more about Salt Lines –

13 responses to “Stupid Writing Tricks…

  1. Ooh! I need one of those red tomatoes! I’m definitely handling things better with this stupid trick. Anything that works, right? (BTW, totally jealous of how much you’ve accomplished so far. I’ve yet to get some reading time, but when I do, I have a few Vernon novels waiting on my kindle to choose from…and I just might have to wait until someone’s home, way too creepy to read alone!)


    • Good to hear, Lauren. Listen, if you don’t want to wait until you buy a timer, apparently you can use an online timer at – which has an actual online tomato timer that can be set for 25 minute increments – but I believe I prefer the actual physical tomato timer.

      Let me know when you get the nerve up to read one of my yarns. For somebody starting out I would DEFINITELY recommend my hockey/vampire bang-up novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. It is definitely a fun, fast read.


      • Thanks, an online timer is even better! I have way too much clutter on my desktop to begin with. And it just so happens that I have Sudden Death Overtime already 🙂 I think my husband (huge hockey fan) would find it a fun read as well!


  2. I succeeded in writing every day in November 2010 in order to “win” in NaNoWriMo, I didn’t keep at it every day the following November for NaNo but still wrote a lot. I don’t know why I don’t do the same now .. write something every day but with a timer. It would make total sense since I have a novel to finish, now wouldn’t it? Thanks for the duuh! moment, Steve. 🙂


  3. Love it, Steve! I’m off to buy a red plastic tomato cooking timer! 🙂


  4. Hey, Steve. Nice post. I do the timing trick too – though the calendar one is new to me. I could see myself incorporating that one. Another trick I’ve been doing more lately is the five-minute trick. You discuss an hour, but I’ve found that even 100 words jotted down in five minutes between tasks stokes the brain, gets it revved up for when you *do* have the hour, moves the story forward and … adds up. Those spare moments are the biggest of baby steps, it seems.


  5. Reblogged this on The Delete Key and commented:
    I LOVE this article!
    Well, I don’t like diet Coke…but I love the idea of simply acknowledging your accomplishments (no matter how small) because a LOT of small accomplishments will equal a BIG one.
    I’d like to add that STICKERS are awesome, too!
    I substitute teach and I take stickers with me. If the students are being “good” as in “good for a sub” and doing the classwork their teacher has assigned, I give them stickers.
    Even the high school students enjoy being rewarded and wear their new stickers on their IDs.
    I could use a sticker for today because, by reblogged this blog…I have blogged today!


    • I hate Diet Coke as well. Diet pop of any kind ALWAYS gives me a headache. Still, I think he was using the diet cans under the mistaken belief that they were LIGHTER than regular soda cans.


      Stickers are ALWAYS fun. Great idea!


  6. Very inventive! You had me at Diet Coke and then okay I had to continue reading as I write too… ! And now I found your blog so alllll good!


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