I am the unofficial time keeper of the Wordsmiths. At each meeting, usually after we pray, I am handed a small stop watch upon which I dutifully register 20 minutes. Once a member begins her discussion/reading, I start the timer.
Why do we set a time limit? First of all, we need boundaries. Eight women gathering together after having not seen one another in a month can talk up a storm very easily. If we didn’t set some type of limit, we’d never get anything accomplished.
Secondly, we want to be fair. Our meetings last four hours. Some of us travel great distances; a few have children or grandchildren to pick up from school. Giving each member a 20 minute limit allows us to hear everyone’s manuscripts in a fair amount of time and still have room for food, fellowship, and fun before we have to leave for home.
It helps that we have a maximum of ten pages of writing that we can bring. Twenty minutes is usually a perfect amount to read and discuss a person’s work.
What happens if someone goes over? The timer starts beeping and the member tries to close up quickly. If we are in the middle of a really intense piece, we will allow some flexibility as long as we have the minutes to spare; but we really try to be considerate all around.
Perhaps your group could benefit from keeping time. It has helped us to stay focused and be better organized while still having lots of fun.
Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio