I’ve never had the luxury of uninterrupted time to write. In fact, while finishing my first book, I had a five year-old, a busy hubby–and morning sickness (which lasted all day, throughout the whole time I was pregnant with my second son). Since then, I’ve worked a variety of part- and even full-time jobs while continuing to build my platform and hone my craft. And out of sheer necessity, I’ve become a master at using hidden pockets of time to further my career.
If you’ve got all the time in the world to research, read, and write, then skip this post. If you’re like me, however, I hope you’ll find encouragement for reaching your writing goals–fifteen minutes at a time:
—Write whenever, and wherever, you have a few spare minutes (during lunch hours, while your kids are at soccer practice, in waiting rooms). During these “cram sessions,” don’t edit; just write as fast as you can.
–Or just edit. Read a draft of a poem, filler, or blog post (preferably out loud) and make a few quick changes.
–Browse the writing section of your local bookstore or library and pick out a few gems to read in fifteen-minute spurts. I can highly recommend Writer with a Day Job.
—Hire a teenager to watch your kids, clean house, or do your errands. And later, use the time you just saved to write!
–Create a spreadsheet. Like this.
—-Look for an online writing support group. The members can provide support, tips, and tricks. (If they instead give you spam, aggravation, and passive-aggressive “critiques,” you can always un-join. That would only take five minutes.)
–Save a few templates of frequently-used pitch letters and customize a query to a specific magazine or agent.
–Create a rough draft of a new writing resume.
–Update your LinkedIn account with recent writing jobs.
–Flip through the newest issue of your favorite magazine, and list a few ideas for features you could pitch to the editor.
–Think about the unique ways you organize your kitchen, kids’ rooms, or office. Draft a filler to send to an appropriate magazine.
–Have a great idea for a greeting card? Check out Hallmark‘s website to see what contests they’re currently running.
—“Backwards plan.” Take a deadline, or set one for yourself, and mark it on your calendar. Then write down all the tasks you’ll need to complete in order to meet the deadline—interviews, outlining, writing a rough draft, revising—and decide how much time you’ll likely need to complete each one. Finally, plan backwards, setting yourself mini-deadlines. (This tip has saved my sanity—and my family life—on several occasions!)
From my busy-but-very productive writer friend, Glynn Young, here are a few final suggestions: “Find and follow three writing blogs, like noveldoctor or Jeff Goins. Read one chapter of a book about writing. Read three poems. Read one author’s entry on Wikipedia. Read the current post on The High Calling.” [where Glynn and I both serve as editors]
See how much you can accomplish in short spurts? Who knows–your mini writing sessions might just lead to your fifteen minutes of fame. Either way, you’ll never regret the time you spent pursuing a passion. I promise!
Now it’s your turn. What ideas do you have for using small amounts of time wisely?