StoryStudio Chicago Words for WorkStoryStudio Chicago Words for Work

by Jill Pollack

How to Write More in 2016: TimePies

This year I really mean it. I’m going to meet my 2016 goals and here’s how I’m going to do it:

  1. I’m not setting too many goals. Of course there is the obligatory “eat less, exercise more” goal. But I’m not making a huge list.
  2. I’m a writer so of course I want to focus on writing more and writing better.
  3. I’m going to create a workable plan.

I was recently having a conversation about time. Some may say it is a fixed measure, but anyone in their teens knows it moves at a glacier’s pace while anyone in their 50s know it whizzes by way too fast.

All I know about time is that I don’t have enough of it. But then again, maybe I do. Maybe the problem isn’t with the number of hours in a day but instead with how I am using those hours.

Raise your hand if you work a lot. Now raise your hand if you think that’s a good thing.

I used to be among you, boasting about how many hours a week I put in at my job of running StoryStudio. As much as I love that job, I have many other interests and they have been getting sidelined. So this year I am making just two resolutions. And I have a special tool to help me get the job done.

My biggest resolution is to USE TIME BETTER. If I were writing a novel about my resolutions, TIME would be my operating principle, the lens through which I want to tell the story. The beginning of the book might question the meaning of time, or ignore its importance altogether. But as the story progresses, TIME becomes the unifying element, the meaning of which has now changed.

Next comes FOCUSING ON ONE THING AT A TIME. This one will be the hardest. The internet and gadgets and Facebook have taught us to do several things at once and think we’re clever. But what if the opposite is true? What if, by focusing on one task at a time, I can delve deeper into my thoughts and reach the creative crevices I have been ignoring in favor of hand-eye coordination? In my novel, FOCUS would be a character turning down the wrong alley again and again. My job this year is to teach this character to stand still and notice what is around her. I want her to digest the details of a moment, to capture how the fiddle playing in the music syncopates the rain drops on the roof, to count the shades of green in the painting in front of her, to actually know what the essence of an instant feels like in her gut.

Now here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: the tools.

StoryStudio instructor and social media manager Jen Coffeen likes to talk about breaking her day into “chunks.” She’s not alone. Several productivity experts suggest breaking the day into specific assignments and actually blocking out the hours on a calendar to make sure you focus on the one thing you need to get done.

So I have created Jill’s TimePie.

Jill's Time Pie for 2016


Behold my work life for the next year. Looking at the slices, it’s easy to see what my overall goals are. The StoryStudio projects include growing our online programs and our Words for Work trainings. The blue writing block is what’s new as I’ve never truly carved out my writing time before.

But goals must be measured and I don’t trust myself to actually do exactly what it says I’m doing in my calendar. So I downloaded the app HOURS on to my phone and I love it. (The app is free for now.) You set up your projects and then just tap the project when you start and finish. It makes a lovely ping noise that fills me with a sense of accomplishment. Each week and each month I’ll pull out a report to see how I’m doing with my TimePie.

To hold myself accountable, I’ll check in with you several times throughout the year to share how I’m doing. If you’d like to join me, email or Tweet us your TimePie and a brief statement about your goals—especially your writing goals—for the year.

Jill Pollack
About Jill Pollack
 Jill Pollack is Chief Story Wrangler of StoryStudio Chicago, where she founded a creative writing school and the Words for Work business writing training. She now co-leads the Story Mode program with Beth Nyland, working with company teams and business people who are really artists in their hearts to become great storytellers, presenters, and creatives. She was a co-founder of the content marketing conference, Content Jam in Chicago, IL, and is a frequent podcast guest and speaker on the power of stories in our personal and professional lives.
How to Write More in 2016: TimePies