The Journey to NaNoWriMo 2013: Fifteen Minutes can make a Difference

“I don't have the time to write a novel.”

This is the most common excuse I hear, followed by, “I have writer's block.”

I'm not going to tell you how to write your book. That's all on you, writer. Writers write, after all. If you aren't writing, you aren't a writer. End of story. Finis. Rocks fall, everybody dies.

In fifteen minutes, I can…

  • … go buy something from the grocery store.
  • … read a chapter of a novel.
  • … make a phone call to a friend.
  • … make a cup of tea.
  • … drink a cup of tea.
  • … clean the toilet.
  • … clean the litter box.
  • … have a meaningful conversation with my husband.
  • … watch a tv show up through the second or third or fourth commercial break.
  • … clean a lot of things in my house.
  • … research something.
  • … draw a picture.
  • … open a door for someone, go into the store, buy something, and hold a door open for someone else.
  • … cook a quick meal.
  • … write a blog post.
  • … listen to someone who needs an ear.
  • … give my car, my cat, or my spouse a bath. And no, not give my car a bath using my cat or my spouse, though the thought has crossed my mind a time or two…
  • … listen to five average-length songs.
  • … write a bad poem.
  • … find something to kill in a computer game.
  • … use a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire.
  • … make this list.

In fifteen minutes, people far cooler than me can…

  • … show up at a scene after a 911 call. To, you know, save lives and stuff. And actually do the saving of the lives and stuff.
  • … land a plane.
  • … perform a simple operation.
  • … diagnose a basic illness.
  • … fill a prescription.
  • … swim laps around me in the pool.
  • … show up at a house on fire and get to work putting out said fire.
  • … change the brakes on a car.
  • … do an oil change on a car.
  • … okay, you get the point.

15 isn't a huge number. An hour has 60 minutes. That's sets of 15.

But, 15 minutes can make a difference. You can make someone smile. If you're an EMT, you can save lives — literally. There is a lot that can be accomplished in 15 minutes.

So, why can't you spend 15 minutes writing? If I can do this list of little but cool things, I can also sit my ass down and write words. They don't have to be good words, so long as I'm writing them. Sure, I can do other things with my 15 minutes, but I'm a writer.

I write.

What's your excuse?

This November, when you feel like 1,667 words is too much, remember what you can do with 15 minutes. It's amazing what can be done in such little time, if you sit down and make the effort to actually do it.

Sure, some might argue that writing for 15 minutes isn't nearly as important as jumping in an ambulance or police car and rushing to the scene of a 911 call. And really, I can't argue with that, because it's not nearly as important. But, the fact is, everyone can spare 15 minutes.

People just choose not to. It's much easier to make a 15 minute block of time than it is to make an hour-long block of time.

Take your 15 minutes when you can get them. It's amazing how quickly they add up. Use this to your advantage. Write — and plan — every free moment you have.

Make every minute count. November isn't nearly so intimidating when you work whenever you can instead of procrastinating.

And don't forget to slow down and hold the door for someone, while you're at it. Don't forget to smile, too.

A little kindness goes a long way.

As a warm up for November, get into the habit of setting aside 15 minutes whenever you can for creative work. In October, this means plotting, if you're a plotter. Pantsers can just think and germinate. Do what you do, so long as it's creative. Build the habit of working in October.

When the hammer falls in November, you'll be ready to make certain that your 15 minutes really make a difference.

Leave a Comment:

Mary Jensen says October 9, 2013

“change the breaks on a car” should be “change the brakes on a car.”
“how quick they add up” should be “how quickly they add up.”

    RJBlain says October 9, 2013

    ::giggle:: And that’ll teach me to write blog posts in the middle of a 16 hour work day. <3

    All fixed.

Courtney says October 10, 2013

excellent. i’m motivated all over again! thanks for posting!

Hendrik Boom says October 22, 2014

On a previous November, when I had a day of housework would just leave my computer open to the piece of my novel I was writing. And every now and then i would add a few sentences, as I thought them up. I have trouble thinking up enough detail to just write large blicks of text all at once. But doing a little at a time, as it come to me …. it’s amazing how fast it adds up.

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