How to Write Like Lauren Graham

Apparently I’ve been on something of a hot pursuit of Lauren Graham these days. And by "these days," I mean the last seven or eight years. She perpetually creates characters that I love, and I’m not ashamed to say that my list of imaginary friends and dinner guests definitely includes Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman.

But Lauren’s recently hit her stride as an author, and so, of course, I had to rush out to belong to that fan club. I first read her memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can, and then, of course, I progressed to her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe. On one Netflix binge or another, followed by audible books in my ears, I’ve got Lauren Graham’s voice solidly fixed in my inner dialogue. It’s a beautiful thing.

As a writer, I’m a complete junkie for writing advice and lessons. So much so that I sometimes have to remind myself that a shelf full of books on writing doesn’t actually make up for the actual act of writing. Still, I’m drawn to writing advice like a moth to a flame. And when Lauren Graham offers writing advice? Well, let’s just say I didn’t know I could love her more.

In her memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren wrote about the phenomenon of an actress authoring a novel: nobody believed she could actually write a book on her own. Hollywood was generally skeptical, continually asking, "Right, but who helped you?" Still, she forged ahead, even conquering the infamous writing killer we writers all have in common: procrastination. Lauren wrote about her Kitchen Timer Method, a tip that helps battle writer's block, and a method she picked up from veteran screenwriter Don Roos.

The Kitchen Timer Method, born from the Pomodoro technique of time management, has transformed the way she writes—and in turn, the way I write, too. It’s the answer we artists are looking for to bring structure where there is none, to be more productive in far less time.

Lauren says, “The principle is that every writer deserves a definite and do-able way of being and feeling successful every day. To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. We set up a goal for ourselves as writers that is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and above all, fail-proof, because everyone can sit and an hour will always pass.” Sign me up.

Here’s how it works:

1. Buy a kitchen timer that goes to sixty minutes. Or use a timer app. Or tell Siri to start a timer for sixty minutes.

2. Decide on Monday how many hours of writing you will do on Tuesday. Some people make appointments in their calendar for these hours, as if they are business hours or dentist appointments. A good strong beginning is one hour a day, but when you are doubting yourself or under pressure or self attack, choose fewer hours rather than more.