Book review: What Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls taught me about dating and writing
I’m not sure why it took me this long to listen to Lauren Graham’s wonderful memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between). Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all-time. I watched it each week when it first aired on The WB (then The CW) and have rewatched it on DVD (remember those?) and on Netflix many times since. Though I no longer have a device that plays DVDs, I can’t bear to part with my Gilmore Girls DVDs much in the same way that Lorelai Gilmore can’t part with her VHS tapes (remember those?) of old movies and TV shows. They are a part of my past, my personal archive, momentos of what I think of now as simpler times that were not simple at all when they happened.
Gilmore Girls is my comfort show, the show I watch when I need to escape into another world because our real world is too heavy and I need a break. My niece is even named Lorelei (one letter off from Lorelai Gilmore but the same in spirit). I am forever grateful to Amy Sherman-Palladino for creating this show and the dialogue that made me want to be a writer to create characters and worlds as magical as Stars Hollow.
Lauren and I have birthdays one day apart, we started our careers in theater in New York, and we’re novelists—just three of the many reasons I’ve always felt we’d be great friends if we ever met. Since we’ve not met (yet), hearing her read her memoir was the next best thing. I loved all of the stories, some I knew from other interviews and many I didn’t. It was fun to get a sense of her personality through her writing and speech.
Two passages particularly resonated with me. One is about dating and the other is about writing.
In one passage, she talks about dating before meeting her partner, Peter Krause, 11 years ago. The two had met 5 years before they got together. She thinks back to that meeting and why there had to be that 5 year gap in time before things worked out for them. She wishes she could have told herself then not to worry so much about meeting a partner, that it would happen when it happened.
“It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen,” she says. “And it’s true that whatever you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters, but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don’t know it yet.”
As someone still dating, still looking for my person, I found this story and this quote incredibly comforting. He’s getting here as fast as he can. My only job is to keep looking and to not give up on finding him.
Listening to Lauren’s memoir improved my writing immediately because of some keen advice Lauren shares from the legendary screenwriter, Don Roos. He uses what he calls the kitchen timer method, and Lauren details it beautifully in the book. Here is the abridged version:
- Decide the day before how long you’ll write the next day and put it in your calendar as an appointment.
- On the day when the appointment arrives, set a timer for 60 minutes.
- Absolutely no distractions during this 60 minutes.
- At the start of the 60 minutes, open 2 documents: a journal and your current project.
- For that 60 minutes, write anything you like, in your journal or your current project. Or nothing at all. Just stare at the screen or, as Lauren jokes, write “I hate writing” 400 times. All that matters is that you keep the appointment for writing.
- If you get tired of your current project any time in that hour, just pop over to your journal and write there. No other distractions or breaks for anything else. This is your hour to write, or stare at the screen and think about writing.
- When the hour is up, stop. And if you have scheduled another hour later, give yourself a break. Once you finish your hour, you’re free to spend the rest of the day any way you’d like.
- And a few other tips:
- Better to write fewer hours every day than many hours one day and none the next.
- Busy day? No problem. Just schedule less time. 15 minutes if that’s all you have.
- Failed to get through your writing hour(s) in a day? That’s not a failure. It means you scheduled too much time. So the next day, schedule less. No make up time. No catch up time. Let the past go.
- Completed your writing time? Give yourself credit for doing something good for yourself. This method is about freeing yourself from anxiety and stilling the inner critic telling you that you aren’t writing enough. And this freedom from the critic will also free your creativity.
I’m a firm believer that we find the books we need when we need them. At this point in my life, I needed these words from Lauren Graham on dating and writing. I’m so grateful she set that kitchen timer and wrote them down for us.