Tuesday, January 09, 2007

15-Minutes is a LONG Time

When I was in third grade, I wanted to take piano lessons and I went every Thursday at 5pm to Mrs. Croskey’s, a retired music teacher’s house, for my lesson for almost 3 years. I never got very far. Why? Because I hated to practice. I didn’t feel comfortable holding my hands in the proper playing position, I couldn’t seem to get those notes memorized, but mostly, I just wanted to read comic books, explore the woods behind my house, or watch TV, instead of practice… and it showed. I’m sure Mrs. Croskey dreaded 5pm on Thursday every bit as much as I did. Many weeks the only time that I played my assigned pieces was during that lesson.

Every once in a while, my mom would banish me to the basement where the old upright piano that we got from our neighbors across the street resided and demand that I practice for 15 minutes. Right next to the piano on a planter was a clock designed to look like a miniature grandfather clock, and instead of playing, I’d stare at the clock and watch the agonizingly slow movement of the minute hand. Every once in a while my mom would shout, “I don’t hear you playing!” and I’d tap out a few bars of whatever piece my music book was open to and resume staring at the clock. I couldn’t believe how long 15 minutes could be.

15 minutes IS a lot of time. And the first thing that a 15-Minute Writer has to do is know exactly how long 15 minutes really is. This is one of the most difficult tasks that I ask the students in any of my 15-Minute Writer classes to do:

Find a calm, quiet place, set a watch, microwave or egg timer for a fifteen minute countdown. And just sit there for fifteen minutes… and do nothing. Do not doze. Do not do any other activity but stare at the wall or the clock. Do not have a radio, TV, phone or any other distraction that will interrupt your fifteen minutes. You will discover how long fifteen minutes really is once you dedicate it to doing absolutely nothing.

Do it, and post what happened in Comments below. How did you feel? Was it easy? Hard? Be honest. No cheating!

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