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The Hourglass: Three Time-Bending Tools for the Writer By Reni Roxas

We all need time for our art. The author Michael Cunningham writes in the morning, “before the duties of the day stamp their urgency over his dreams,” according to this New York Times article.

How else can we rein in time?

Here are three analog tools I use to make time my ally, not adversary: The Hourglass. I own an hourglass. Tip it over and I get right to work, writing or reading. I have 60 minutes. The world falls away. No guilt, no distractions. You’d be amazed how much is accomplished in an hour! Below is the hourglass I use.

Pen, Paper, Passages

When I encounter an unforgettable story or passage, I copy it in longhand, word for word. While fingers move, time decelerates; new rooms in my mind are lit up. I uncover craft and technique behind the author’s words I’d otherwise overlook when reading or skimming.

The Sign Muse

I have a sign on my desk: Write Every Day. It reminds me that I am a writer, with tasks at hand. The sign is perched ever-present on my desk, like an angel blessing my work.

It’s easy to squander time. But you can capture it, bottle it, slow it down—and maximize it to enrich your art and craft.


Reni Roxas has been making meaningful children’s books for Filipino families for over 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Writer’s Digest, and other publications. Say hello at

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