Tomorrow is the first day of October, the beginning of the hectic Oh-my-god-NaNoWriMo-is-only-31-days-away-better-start-planning!” season.
Now, you know I’m all about NaNoWriMo and the frantic push to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But before we start with this year’s NaNoWriMo prep posts (and they’re coming like Winter, believe me), I want to take a few minutes to talk about a very different philosophy.
And that’s the power of writing 15 minutes a day.
Whether you ‘win’ or not, participating in NaNoWriMo can be especially empowering. However, there is a big danger of developing the mindset that if you don’t sit down and write thousands and thousands of words, then it’s not worth it to write at all – and this outlook can carry over into the rest of the year.
This is especially damaging. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a few hundred words or less (or none at all) and went to sleep feeling incredibly guilty and unproductive.
A REAL writer would have written more, I think to myself, and I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling of inadequacy.
This is ludicrous. Writing ANY amount of words is a good thing.
Let’s say you only write on Sundays, because that’s the only day you can devote a couple of hours to writing at one stretch. On those days, you might average 1,000 words. And that’s great – That’s 52,000 words in a year, almost an entire novel.
But what about the rest of the week? What if you could find 15 minutes every day to spend writing? Everyone can find 15 minutes. Write while the water boils. Write while waiting for your dog to finish eating dinner. Set a timer and write before (the ‘before’ is important, unless you want to fall down the rabbit hole of channel-surfing) you turn on the news. Delete the Pinterest app from your phone (if you’re like me, this will free up A LOT more than 15 minutes…)
But how much can I possibly accomplish in 15 minutes? You ask.
Well, not a lot, I’ll admit, but it’s enough to make a difference.
Let’s say you can write, on average, 200 words in 15 minutes.
If you continue to write 1,000 words on Sundays, plus 200 words a day the rest of the week, that totals out to 114,400 words. That’s enough for almost two novels, or a decent-sized Science Fiction tome.
Even if you don’t write 1,000 words on Sunday, and only write 200 words every day, that’s still 72,300 words, a respectable novel. That’s more than writing 1,000 words once a week.
If you ever have a day where you want to do absolutely anything else but sit down in front of your computer, try setting a timer for fifteen minutes. Like my mom used to tell me, you can do anything for fifteen minutes. Usually she was talking about running the mile for gym class, but the principle applies here, too.
After fifteen minutes, you can quit if you want – but I’m willing to bet that if you start, you’ll find that you enjoy it more than you expected.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with writing for hours and hours every day if you can manage to do so consistently. If you have a deadline or write for a living, it’s mandatory. But writing for any amount of time is beneficial, and writing fifteen minutes a day can help you develop a writing routine that will grow with you.
And that’s nothing to shake a stick at.
How much do YOU write every day? Do you think writing daily is necessary, or is it possible for a writer to be productive while writing only once a week? Let me know in the comments! If you’re interested in NaNoWriMo prep posts, they’re here.