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Miriam Toews: The Ninety-Minute Rule

This is the ninety-minute rule--something I learned from my friend who is the person I’m co-writing a screenplay with.... She has a rule and it’s the ninety-minute rule, and that is that you sit down and you tell yourself, “I’m going to write for ninety minutes,” because ninety minutes is a significant amount of time. It gives you enough time to actually...complete a thought. Either some activity, you know, that your character’s engaged in, or a dialogue or...even one really good solid sentence. And so, at the end of the ninety minutes, you can say, “Okay, I have accomplished something today,” and if you’re still in the energy and if you’re still, you know, feeling it, in the groove, then you keep going. And if not, you can quit and you can say, “It’s okay, I did some work today,” and you’ll feel good.


Miriam Toews, 2010, from a talk given with Richard Scrimger