by Kelsie Engen
Writers can mostly agree that writing is a time consuming process. You write a first draft, step back, revise into a second draft, send out for feedback (beta readers or developmental editor), receive and revise, send for final edits, then finally submit and (possibly change) and then publish. Whew. I get tired just writing that list.
Then factor in this: Some authors spend a decade or more writing and perfecting their novels.
So…what can you possibly do in 15 minutes?
Well, it turns out, quite a bit. After all, a novel, even a Tolstoy-length tome is written the same way: word by word.
We writers just have to keep putting down words, and, eventually, we’ll have a novel written.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s editing, it’s revising, it’s accepting feedback, and more. It turns out, that there are a lot of little things that we writers can accomplish in 15 minutes or so.
What can you do in 15 minutes?
Write quick blog post (draft)
- I’m a “slow” blog writer–it takes me more than 15 minutes to write one. But I can certainly draft out a post or brainstorm blog post ideas in 15 minutes
Plan your next scene
- If you’re deep in the throes of a writing project, and perhaps don’t have your manuscript on you, you can:
- brainstorm ideas for your next scene
- write the dialogue for your next scene
- write a summary of your next scene
- Free write
- spend 5-15 minutes just keeping the pen moving across your paper. You may write gibberish, you may write Shakespeare. Both are okay.
- write about your day:
- the things you’ve accomplished
- the things you’d like to accomplish tomorrow
- the things you wish you hadn’t wasted time on
- how you can plan your next day
- plan your next day’s writing
- brainstorm a new writing project
- speed write a summary of your writing project or next project or next scene
- keep boards for
- your novels
- general characters
- general settings
- photos of people and places you find inspiring
- writing prompts
- your novels
- use as social media outlet to share with followers (don’t forget to write a caption)
- for your novel
- research the notes you left yourself when you were writing the first draft
- any questions that show up while you write the first draft (keep a list)
- topics for your next WIP
- copyright issues you think you might face
- publishing tips and tricks
- querying information
- self-publishing advice
Catch up on blogs you follow
- basically brief fiction, or fiction that can be read quickly, write a paragraph or three of a story (tip: don’t pay attention to word count for a first draft)
Craft a query letter (quick draft)
- obviously people spend a lot more time on a query letter than just fifteen minutes (or at least they should), but fifteen minutes of undivided attention will give you a great start.
- or research a query letter if you haven’t
- read some query examples on sites like QueryShark.com
Schedule social media
- hootsuite (multiple platforms)
- later (for Instagram)
- tweetdeck (Twitter)
- keep a “secret” board where you pin things you would share later
Catch up on chores
Okay, this may seem like an odd one. But if you keep up on your chores and things when you have a couple of minutes, you won’t have to do them later during your writing time. So . . .
- (un)load the dishwasher
- prepare your coffee to brew the night before
- throw a load of laundry into the washer before your writing session starts (while the kids are playing with toys or before you prep for dinner, etc.)
- prep for dinner ahead of time, or else buy pre-cut veggies and use short cuts to give yourself more time for writing
Yes, I saved perhaps the most obvious for last. But you can also write! Word sprints are a great way to really focus and get the words pounding out. Turn off all distractions and keep only your novel file open on your computer (or put only that notebook in front of you), and write for 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised how many words you can actually get down on the page if you keep typing/writing for 15 minutes straight. (And if 15 minutes seems like too much, then start at 5 minutes. Take 1 minute off, do another 5 minutes, etc. Eventually you can increase your time as your focus and writing muscles grow.)
So what can you do in 15 minutes?
Quite a bit, it looks like.
Being a writer in this day and age is all about using the small bits of time that we are given.
If you keep up on your “chores,” keep your imagination ripe and primed to work when you sit down, or preplan your next scene to write, or keep a board of inspiration for when you have the time to write but might not be completely inspired, or schedule your social media posts, and on and on and on, you can utilize your writing time to its best advantage.
And isn’t that what all we writers want to do?
Guest post contributed by Kelsie Engen. Kelsie loves to read and started her blog to share that passion with others of like mind.