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Opinion: Build A Writing Habit With YouCan TouCan

Opinion: Build a Writing Habit With YouCan TouCan

Writing goals are always talked about especially at this time of year. But more important than the goal is the system and writing habit you put in place in order to continue achieving those goals session after session, book after book. ALLi Author Claire L. Fishback uses the YouCan TouCan method. Today, she shares how it can help you build a daily writing habit too.

The Invention of YouCan TouCan!

Claire L. Fishback

Productivity has been one of those success buzzwords for quite some time in the corporate world as well as our personal lives. Google search “how to be more productive,” and you get 230 MILLION results. As with books on how to write (or do anything for that matter), everyone has their own way to be more productive. Including me <grin>.

As a writer with a full-time job, my writing time is my 60-minute lunch break. I just want to sit down and write. I don't want to worry about a 14-step process that'll take me more time to get set up than to just sit down and start writing. I don't want to spend time researching different productivity apps to track my time and word counts. And I certainly don't want to set up a spreadsheet and spend time filling in details, time I could be using to add words to my first draft or knock out a chapter or two in editing/revising/rewriting.

A few years ago, at a writing conference, one of the keynote speakers said, “You can, too.” I turned to my friend, USA Today bestselling author LS Hawker, and whispered, “You can TOUCAN.” We giggled (beverages had been consumed, after all), and while the keynote wrapped up her speech, I drew a picture of a toucan. That was the birth of the YouCan TouCan.

From there, we challenged each other to write for at least 20 minutes a day. This became known as the Toucan20. I even drew a bunch of toucans we could send each other at the end of the day to show whether we’d accomplished our 20 minutes or not.













Using TouCan to Create a Writing Habit

For two months, I tracked my word count.

Month one, November 2018, I set out to write for at least 20 minutes a day. More often than not, it was the jump start to my writing session, and I wrote for more than the twenty minutes. The results? 23,277 words between Nov. 1 – 30, averaging 775 words per writing session (remember, I only write on my hour-long lunch break). Not too shabby!

Month two, January 2019, I wanted to see exactly how much I could write in ONLY 20 minutes a day. I type pretty fast, around 90 words per minute, and some days were better than others. The results, however, were pretty impressive if I say so myself. I wrote 13,348 words from January 1 – 31 in only 20 minutes a day, averaging 430 words per 20 minutes.

Why You Write More With Less Time

My routine has evolved. I now use Toucan20 in conjunction with the Pomodoro technique. I'll do a 20-minute session, take a 5-minute break, and rinse/repeat three times for a total writing time of 60 minutes.

The thing is, when you give yourself limited time to write, you end up being far more productive than if you have, say, ALL DAY to write (those dishes won't do themselves, Karen!). Toucan20 is also for the busy writer. The writer who, like me, has a full-time job and writes on her lunch break, or in the chair at the salon (with my thumbs, on my phone!), or during any spare moment. There's just something about 20 minutes. It's more manageable. It's quick. It's easy to find in a busy schedule.

Kick Start Your Daily Writing Habit With YouCan TouCan

Toucan20 is also a great way to kick-start any writing session, especially when you feel low motivation, are suffering from the dreaded—and sometimes thought mythical—writer's block, or seriously only have 20 minutes to spare. When motivation is low, you just tell yourself, “it's only 20 minutes.” I bet you’ll write beyond that 20, because you’ll be on a roll and want to keep going (time allowing).

Keep track of how much you write in that 20 minutes for a week or a month. Seeing the word count rack up will inspire you to keep going. It'll help you sit down every day, or nearly every day if you aren't a daily writer, and create that writing habit.

Try it. Right now. Go set a timer for 20 minutes and start writing. You'll be surprised how much you can write in that short time frame.

Learn how to build a writing habit with tips from @ clairelfishback #indieauthor #selfpublishing #IARTG #ASMRG #writingcommunity Share on X


What methods have you used to build a daily writing habit?

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Author: Claire Fishback

Award winning author Claire L. Fishback writes horror novels and short stories from beautiful Colorado, where she resides with her husband and pit bull mix. She is the author of The Blood of Seven and Lump: A Collection of Short Stories. In her “spare” time she enjoys adding to her bone collection and poking dead things with sticks. You can find more about her and her books at clairelfishback.com.


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Although I haven’t called it that, I have used a timer quite successfully in many avenues, including writing. Thanks for the reminder since I’d forgotten about it. I will be putting this to use again.

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