Some say it’s not Steinbeck’s best work but I’ll never get tired of teaching Of Mice and Men. This being my 6th time in 9 years, I’m still amused when my class cackle at Lennie’s fetish for soft things and I can barely conceal my pleasure at their gawping mouths as they unpack Steinbeck’s letter to Claire Luce.
But the thing about exclusively teaching Key Stage 4 and 5 is that I’m rendered too brain-dead to read for pleasure. By the time I’m done preparing set texts, the last thing I want to do is read more; ironic considering I became an English teacher in order to enjoy literature.
I miss reading, and I bloody well miss writing. For me, both go hand in hand.
So I’ve decided to do something, and of course, to stop whining ‘I just don’t have time!’ when quite clearly I have plenty of time editing embarrassing videos for my Insta stories (if you know, you know).
I’ve been wanting to read Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can since it was published because, well, if you don’t know this already about me there’s no better time to tell you than now, I am a huuuge Gilmore Girls fan. I watched reruns upon reruns of it on E4 and a decade later I continue to do so on Netflix. I’m also the kind of person who struggles to find people to look up to, you know? I’ve always been that way. As in, I’ve never felt a pressing need to read a particular celebrity’s autobiography or devour everything they feature in. There are only a handful of
people women I feel this way about. Lauren Graham is one of them.
Bookstores out here in Doha don’t offer as wide a variety as the UK, and they’ve not even bothered to stock Lauren’s book (I know because I’ve been on the hunt for it since 2017). I finally succumbed and bought the eBook version. I don’t regret it at all. It was just as hilarious and engaging and brilliant as I’d hoped it would be. If anything, the chapter where Lauren shares her advice on how to write productively made me think, ‘This is fate.’
Lauren shares how, when filming the Gilmore Girls revival, she did everything else other than write! So she shares the method that worked for her: The Kitchen Timer Method. You can read more about it here.
Considering how over the past 18 months I’ve become a lot like Kirk when it comes to finishing work I started years ago, I decided I would at least give her method a shot.
Guys, my first attempt was painful.
I set 30 minutes on my phone timer (because I wasn’t brave enough to try an hour, plus it was a school night). I used pen and paper – I couldn’t handle looking at a screen anymore. It felt like pushing against a stone wall. My WIP document was full of scribbly spider diagrams and vague-ish bullet points on character development (what even is wurds? I asked myself, struggling to recall anything at all).
It was the journal document that I spent most time on and about 8 minutes in I was ready to fall asleep from the exhaustion of it all. At 13 minutes I suddenly became aware of how dependent I am on background noise and wondered if my next session should include some background noise (Lauren suggests whitenoise, not music, not TV, so that means no GG reruns for me). But, eventually, when the timer went off, I was mid-flow and rejuvenated. I didn’t want to stop writing. Both of my recent blog entries are proof of this – whatever it was about those 30 minutes, it worked.
And so I have downloaded the Pomodoro tracking app (because the Kitchen Timer method is based on this) in the hope that I can apply the same method to lesson planning and other things I put off. The app has a selection of background noises to choose from which’ll hopefully help me focus next time. I’ll write a follow up soon of how this goes. Meanwhile, feel free to leave your tried and tested writing hacks in the comments below. Or, try this one and let me know how it works out for you. 🙂