” Alexa set a timer for 15 minutes.”

“Alexa set a timer for 15 minutes”. I used my Amazon Echo to help me get started on my weekly writing post. Her name is Alexa and she is my digital assistant.  For most of the day, I kept starting sentences and then deleting them. I lost track of how many sentences I began and then erased. To gain some momentum, I set a timer for 15 minutes and began to write.

My mind kept suggesting writing topics — Allow me to give you a glimpse into my mind.  One suggestion was to start writing about the movie IT, that I went to see on Friday. Inner Steven to me this. “You could build a paper about how I felt it wasn’t as good as the first movie.” I rejected Inner Steven. ” Nope didn’t wish to devote an entire writing session to reviewing a film.”

The next idea was to construct a piece around my fantasy football draft. The idea was to discuss how my fantasy football picking process was similar to my leadership decision making process. The theme of criticizing myself for poor decisions stood out. I discovered that I needed to work more on rewarding myself for favorable judgments.

I learned this lesson by picking a fantasy football team. This idea died on the vine because I told myself, most people who read this post will say they know nothing about fantasy football. I allowed this potential post to drift away, as well. I realized that this form of thinking wasn’t anyone talking to me, it was just me, not being happy with anything that was going onto the paper. The timer helps. The timer helped me to start writing and continue writing.

I keep thinking about writing clean and simple sentences. Writing clear and straightforward sentences seems to me to be very challenging. My hands stopped typing. How much time have I spent so far composing? I asked my speaker- “Alexa how much time is left on the timer” Alexa responds with nine minutes left. Awesome !

I have written for six minutes. It feels agonizing. I am feeling physically in pain, as I type. My fingers aren’t hurting, but I keep telling myself, this is crap, why the heck am I doing this, and stop writing, don’t you dare post this. This is what not knowing what to write looks like and feels like.  Suddenly like magic, the tide and mood begin to shift. The more I write, the less I begin to care. My attitude is starting to change. Another topic flows down from on high. ” How about writing about doing laundry today?”

Sunday laundry. Humming along without much excitement. Until a goof-up occurred.I forgot to check my pant pocket before doing laundry. As a result, a purple pen ended up staining several of my wife’s clothes

. My wife came home from Zumba, and I confessed my sin, rather than hiding it. She was gracious and said she didn’t need to wear that top anymore, and the dress already had a stain. Maybe I could build a piece around marriage, but I don’t want to sound preachy, and part of me believes if I start attempting to dole out marriage advice, something terrible will happen to me. Yes, I know this is ridiculous, but my mind acts like a dog chasing its tail at times. “Alexa how much time is left on the timer,” Alexa tells me five minutes.

Cool! I have been writing for ten minutes. I probably have been writing for a more extended period, but I didn’t time all the sentences, I typed and then erased.
The anxiety is going away, a distant memory. The pain is no longer present. I have written myself into feeling happy and joyful about my writing. Alexa, how much time left on the timer? “You have 2 minutes and 20 seconds left on the timer. I feel the end coming; a sense of accomplishment is starting to come over me.

When I began this piece, I was not enjoying myself. After just thirteen minutes, I am energized. Happy. I am looking forward to eating the Panda Express my wife brought home for myself and our son after her Zumba class. Also, I am looking forward to having another piece of writing finished. Done is done. Writing is something that I do each week. There are several lessons that I learned. The act of writing is fun. Writing creates movement. Motion turns my mind towards the next sentence. Deleting a sentence after a sentence has me inside the mind of someone else. I am writing thinking about what someone else will think. The truth about that last statement is that I think I may be inside another person’s mind. I am not. The voice in your head is your voice. It is an actor or an actress playing someone else. Once I acknowledge it. The voices quiet.

At times, I know what I want to write about, and at times I don’t. This was one of the times where I have no idea what to write about. Knowing what to write about doesn’t matter. Writing does.  Here is my advice if you don’t know what to write about. Write anyway. I wrote myself into a better mood. With a clear mind and a joyful demeanor. I hear the beeping, and I look up to see the blue light flashing on my Echo. I call out to my digital assistant. “Alexa stop.”

2 thoughts on “” Alexa set a timer for 15 minutes.”

  1. Hi Steven, this was such a delightful post to read. I was hooked into your narrative from the start. I frequently use a timer for my work because I get so absorbed in things and forget to eat or take a break – so I was curious if this is a technique you use often?

    I love how you described how painful it was to type, to put those words onto paper. I was just talking to a friend today about how continuing through the hard parts sets you apart from those that don’t and do succeed. So nice job pushing through it to the other side!! Amazing how that works.

    I wonder if there are proactive ways you could make your weekly writing less of a barrier for yourself? Could you decide on a topic the week before? Could you have a set time each week that you designate for writing?

    You mentioned the voice inside your head. Do you think that’s really you? Or is it the things you’ve been told and keep telling yourself that may not necessarily be true?

    Enjoyed the post, thanks for sharing with us, Steven!!! 🙂

  2. Hi Steven,

    Thank you for sharing such an interesting piece. I did not know where you were going with it until the last two paragraphs. You kept me intrigued. Well done.

    I learned something new that I don’t usually experience – what to do when I don’t know what to write about. I can see how this might be crucial for many people who like to write more.

    I tend to dive into my present and think about what I am learning through my work. And what I am doing differently based on that. Somehow, this makes my writing more natural and more straightforward. But I see that this might not work for others.

    Thanks again, Steven.

    You helped me broaden my perspective on how people feel and what they think when they sit down to write.

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