Rule #6

Always take a three-minute break after writing the paragraph. In this break you must do something that is not related to either your writing or the rest of your day’s tasks.

This is easy. You really just have to do it. After you stop writing (on time!), don’t start something else for three minutes. Don’t even prepare for what will happen next. If you’re writing another paragraph, don’t think about it for three minutes, don’t even look at the key sentence. Don’t open your emails. Don’t glance in your calendar to see what’s coming up. Relax. Get a cup of coffee. Do some push ups. Flip aimlessly through a book. Send a message to your friend or lover or spouse or child. Look out the window. Just don’t work or even think about work.

The point of this rule is to protect the end of your writing session from the anticipation of the work to come. Get yourself in the habit of thinking of the time after the writing session as pure emptiness. It is the nothingness that divides the here-and-now of your writing from the there-and-then of your next order of business. Even if the next order of business is another writing moment, it must be separate and distinct from the one that went before. What this really means is that the current writing moment is a discrete one, with its own internal boundaries, its own integrity. It is the feeling in the “now” of your writing that you are supporting by building the habit of taking a break.

You should never feel like the end of your writing moment will allow you to “get on with it”. You are already engaged in “it”. Pay attention. When your 27 minutes are up, there is nothing to do but relax. Only then should you get on with your day. Which you should then, of course, just go and do.

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