I thought my dedication to the timer was eccentric, but my students claim it is the most useful help for productive writing as all. (Not all students, of course. Writers, if nothing else, are individuals.) Here's what I get:
- A ready tool
- A ritual the reenforces good habits
- A taskmaster that does not accept excuses; the dial marches forward no matter what I say.
- Permission -- to write less that perfect prose and to stop when the timer goes off.
I like real timers, but I use timer apps as well. CNET always has a few timers available for download, including free ones.
I'll end with a question. Why aren't timers used more often? The students who rave about timers and report productivity during classes have generally had success with them in the past. Why do they fail to use them on a regular basis? How can the habit be encouraged?