books, the write way

Contest: Win Robert Raymer’s “Lovers and Strangers – Revisited”!

Robert in his home office. Photo by Georgette Tan.

Update: Please be sure you reply to this post or email me your entry at tarlia[AT]!

Robert Raymer, featured in PostMag today, revealed during his interview that he writes 15 hours in a week and keeps track of his hours in a logbook. He logs in and gets down to business, and logs out whenever he steps away from his desk – even if it’s only to get a drink or go to the bathroom. It’s a method I might try myself, anytime I peel my ass off my lazy zone.

I’m interested in the techniques used by writers to stay on track because I have a problem staying on track. In the years of claiming not to be a morning person, I discovered (to my chagrin) that I do my best writing before lunch and under threat of deadline. In fact, I’m already procrastinating by writing this post, but since I’m off today, I feel entitled to do some writing that is not related to work.

In the middle of the last sentence, I had to pause to hit snooze on my alarm clock. Say hello to my method of staying on track. I have 15 minutes before it goes off again.

While learning to manage my time, I found that I lose a lot of it when I get hypnotised by a game or with blog-surfing. Before I know it, “5 minutes” became “what do you mean it’s 4am?” I have to acknowledge that while I can’t go cold turkey on my distractions, I can learn turn my weakness into a form of reward.

When I know I have something more important to do, I set the alarm on my mobile phone to beep every 15 minutes so I am reminded of the passage of time. For example, it’s already gone off four times before I finally started writing this post. I want to finish it before my 15 minutes it up because I have other things to move on to.

Once I’ve done some actual work for at least 15 minutes, I allow myself to wander off and check mail, raid the fridge for a snack or something… until the next beep goes off to remind me that I’m should get back to work.

Does it work? So far, yes. You’re reading this post, aren’t you? I’ve only put this off for a week.

“But how can anyone get anything done in bursts of 15 minutes?” you ask.

For me, the bursts of 15 minutes add up, while allowing me to indulge in my love for playing while getting a bit of work done. I can play all day, but I do need to earn a living. I may move at a slower pace, but at least I’m moving. Time management is one of those things where you have to find something that works for you.


Which brings us to my first ever contest: How do you get things done? You just read about what I do to keep myself on track. Now it’s your turn.

Up for grabs is a signed copy of Robert Raymer’s “Lovers and Strangers – Revisited“, a collection of short stories set in Malaysia and Singapore.

It is a book I think everyone should read if they’re interested in a glimpse of Malaysia, or if they live in Malaysia. This guy sees things that I don’t, and hey… I’m the one who was born and raised here.

But that’s not all you get. I’m also throwing in the Devil Bookie, a bookmark for people with a sense of quirky. According to the info page (see for details), this item is currently not in stock. Even if it is, it’s only available in Kuching. Hell, look at it… it’s cute! How can you resist the implication that the road to hell is paved with books?

How to join

  1. Write a post (200 words or longer) talking about how you keep your nose on the grindstone. Your post must be something written for this contest, meaning it has to a new post published after 20 May 2007.
  2. Mention this contest somewhere in your entry and link back to this post:
  3. One entry per blogger.
  4. I’ll be monitoring trackbacks, but reply to this post or email me at tarlia[AT] to make sure I get your entry!
  5. Deadline is 3 June 2007, 11:59pm.
  6. You don’t have to be in Malaysia to join. I will ship this anywhere because I’m nice like that.

How to win
Winning is all by luck. I will pick a winner at random, because I don’t need the headache of picking a “best” entry. As I suggested above, there is no “best” way of time management.

I’ll be listing every entry in a future post so you guys can go see what other people wrote.

Why are you still here? Go write something.

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Author: Georgette Tan

writer . poet . introvert . NSFW hand letterer . equatorial eclectic


  1. i see u’ve met mr robert raymer. he’s one of the most sought after creative writing teachers here in USM. many really like his class. many moaned when he left hehe.

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