Short and Sweet Advice for Writers: Take 10

stopwatachFinding time to write is always a challenge.

You dream of long, uninterrupted stretches of time in which you can unfurl your creativity and let your muse be your guide. You assume that in order to accomplish your Big Writing Dreams you must have Big Blocks of Writing Time. You’re partly right.

Yes – writing takes time and big projects take a lot of time. Writing a book is not a quest for the faint hearted. However (though I still long for full days of writing) I have been discovering the value of “micro” writing sessions. These mini, 10-minute sessions may not be moving me forward on any long-form projects, but they are helping me tackle other writing goals like increasing the frequency of my fiction writing practice, stretching my creative muscles, and learning to let myself play in my writing.

Even on a really busy day, I can usually find ten minutes to write. Knowing that I only have to write for ten minutes and – just as importantly – that what I’m writing doesn’t need to serve any specific purpose really helps to take the pressure off.

Here are a few examples of my 10-minute writing practice:

Moon

I wrote this one on the Werdsmith app on my phone while sitting at the town wharf watching the moon rise. I had been putting the trash out (just before running to the market) when the rising moon caught my eye. I left the trash at the curb, walked two minutes down to the edge of the river, and tapped this out on my phone:

The moon had always felt like an invitation to her, a bright, intoxicating promise of something mysterious and possibly magical. The way it hung there in the evening sky, balanced and luminescent, with the reflected light of the day caught on its cold surface.

The night, too, seemed to beckon. The shadows softening and deepening the contours of the world. An owl hooted low like a lover calling her back to bed, sweet with a touch of sharpness.

And there, dancing through the back rooms of her mind, a memory. The spell of moon and dark and the owl’s sultry call converged to draw out some ancient inner story that had always been there, but which she’d never dared to call her own.

This was what was happening to Jordan the night she disappeared, but no one else would know that for a very, very long time. No one would have any explanation for the way she vanished, seemingly like a ghost, right out from under the watchful eyes of a half dozen nosy neighbors.

 

Ghost

This one I wrote while sitting in my car, waiting for my daughter to put her lesson pony to bed for the night. I scribbled it into a Moleskine notebook while still wearing my gloves. (It was chilly.)

It seemed like a perfectly ordinary Thursday, but as it turned out, it would be the day that changed everything. Of course, Arnold didn’t realize this at the time. He just pulled on his trench coat against the London drizzle and descended into the steaming underground to catch the 8:05 uptown to the offices of Shane, Mack & Oliver.

Arnold wasn’t looking forward to the meeting. He knew it wasn’t going to go well. Shane, Mack & Oliver had a reputation for ruthless behavior. Arnold’s company didn’t even have a very good case against the agency they were representing. He had resigned himself to a morning of abuse and cruel punishment. He hadn’t even put on his good suit.

Arnold emerged into the damp sunlight a long, city block from the shining offices where he expected to have his hat handed to him. He shuffled along the sidewalk, his steps recalcitrant and slow. He barely raised his eyes, even to cross the street. That was why he didn’t see the ghost until he’d walked right through it.

The ghost didn’t seem surprised. Exasperated, maybe, but not surprised. He harumphed indignantly and gave his head a superior little toss that ended with an eye roll for punctuation. Arnold might not have even stopped except for the fact that walking through the ghost had been something like walking through several sheets of ice – a succession of sharp shivers that ran through his body like a rapid fire spray of machine-gun fire, causing him to convulse somewhat violently.

Arnold stopped and leant over to catch his breath. He clutched at his heart, thinking maybe this was what a heart attack felt like. But then he saw the transparent visage of Mr. Edward Hottentot, Esq. and knew his current state of frigid incapacity was not due to any failure of his heart.

 

Cat

This one I wrote in bed on Werdsmith at 6AM in the morning … with a cat sleeping on my chest.

The weight of the cat on her chest was reassuring. It was like a small, warm anchor that tethered her physically and spiritually to the world. It’s purr was an ancient mantra that soothed and protected her, keeping the bad dreams and anxiety at bay.

But, as the sun crept higher and the sounds of traffic increased, the cat realized it was hungry. It leapt lightly from its perch on her sternum, leaving her at risk of floating away. The cat was not concerned. It sat in a far corner of the small room, grooming its face assiduously, not even bothering to see if the girl was still safely tucked in under the covers and not drifting down the hall.

As for the girl, she came to terms with the cat’s sudden abandonment slowly. She held herself still and breathed as quietly and evenly as she could. Nothing happened. After a few minutes she dared to turn and look out the window. The world was still there, more or less as she’d left it the night before. The girl let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and began to plan her day. The first order of business would be finding out her name.

 

See? It’s some silly play and some free-form meandering. You don’t have to outline anything. You don’t have to worry about achieving any particular goal. You just find ten minutes, and you start writing. As a die-hard planner (vs. pantster), I’m really enjoying being completely random and just seeing what happens. In each of these cases, I had NO idea what I was going to write (or even that I was going to write at all!), and I just kind of started with a sentence and then waited to see where it would take me.

Do you do any kind of free-writing practice? What do you like best about it? What works well for you in terms o f process, frequency, length, etc? Care to share the fruits of your labors?  

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

76 thoughts on “Short and Sweet Advice for Writers: Take 10

  1. There are some nice ideas there Jamie, I like the thoughts you present. I also struglle and often end up writing at time of the day where the mind probably isn’t working as well as it needs to. But I guess it’s better than nothing.
    Work lunch break seems to be the best time I can regularly snatch in the day, but I then lose out of fresh air. Arrggh! Can you ever win? lol

    • I know what you mean about having to write at times of the day when you’re not at your best for creative work. I tend to prefer mornings, but I’ve been finding that even if I cram my 10 minutes in at the very end of the day (as in, I’m already in bed, under the covers), it’s still a worthwhile exercise.

      As for writing during lunch & missing your fresh air (I’d hate that, too!), is there any way for you to go mobile (notebook, smartphone app, tablet, etc.)? Sometimes, I force myself to write in odd places just to change my perspective. It can be kind of fun.

      Thanks!

      • I have mobile, but i think i need a bigger tablet, this 7″ is ok, but drives me nuts lol
        Also i live in wet and windy England… I still love the walk though. I normally work it by getting in early to work and snatching some time then. Its all a juggle but i try as i know you do.
        Could i ask a favour of you as a fellow blogger and writer to look over my writing bkog and give me some thoughts?
        It’s https://universeofpossibility.wordpress.com/
        Im sorry to ask, as i imagine youre busy but i thought i would be cheeky ☺

      • Small screens and wet/windy weather can definitely be a challenge. I don’t have a tablet, though I think about it once in a while. I just saw an ad for a new “pro” iPad tablet. Tempting. 😉

        I am kind of crazy busy at the moment (aren’t we all?), and I do get a lot of requests to look at people’s blogs, but is there a specific question you have that I can help with? If you can narrow things down for me, I’d be better able to provide helpful input. (FYI – I just quickly read a couple of your stories – the Minecraft one about pumpkins and Iron Golumns and the 2nd part of Dark Horizons.)

  2. Interesting post! For me, I take the opportunity to write during my lunch hour as it is a long enough period of time to both find my ‘muse’ and tackle editing along the way. It probably takes me ten minutes to get into any sort of muse. However, this technique could very well work for some people! I also write in the early hours of the morning when I have trouble sleeping (rather than lie staring at the ceiling, willing myself in vain back to sleep).

    • You bring up a good point about your muse needing to “warm up.” I’ve had a similar experience, but with this 10-min practice there’s no warm-up time, so I just have to dive in and hope for creativity on demand. Interestingly, the time constraint seems to trigger a faster “muse response.” I guess when she figures she’s only getting ten minutes, she tends to hustle a bit faster. 😉

      I also sometimes use those wee hours in the AM to write … even if I’m still in bed. Typing on my iPhone keyboard isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing!

  3. Nice writing Jamie! I can’t wait to read one of your books. I’ve adopted micro-writing in the last 6 months or so, and while I find it isn’t a perfect venue for me to get in the mode of writing my novels, it’s beneficial to helping me hone my flash/short fiction skills. I do love those long writing sessions of two hours or more because I need to get into the heads of my characters pretty deeply, but that kind of time is rare for me these days. Micro writing is a good alternative when life is interrupted and you begin to have writing withdrawals.

    • Thanks so much, Laura. 🙂

      I did some flash fiction in a course I took recently, and was fascinated by the form. I’m actually about halfway through a great reference book called the Field Guide to Flash Fiction. The 10-min practice is much more of a freewrite than the condensed and polished flash form, but I’m glad to have you remind me about also practicing some flash. I could, perhaps, come up with some story ideas and then pick one when I find my ten minutes so I can try to craft something more self-contained. Interesting … you’ve got me thinking now.

      Thanks for being here & for the “mind jog!”

  4. Definitely when I’m on the bus on my way home I daydream a lot and sometimes the daydreaming is too much, I miss the bus stop! 😀 Usually what triggers my writing is a scene, a song, a gesture I see on the street…Later these small fragments that inspired me are turned into a story! I prefer though writing in the silence of the night, when everyone sleeps except my imagination!

    • Isn’t writing in solitude lovely? I used to do most of my personal (vs. business) writing in the early morning before my daughter woke up. Now that she’s in middle school, we’re both up at 6AM, and I have to put my writing off until the bus picks her up. It’s an adjustment. I miss those pre-dawn hours – just me and the cats, the sunrise and my thoughts. But, I’m learning how to adapt. 😉

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. I never leave home without my Moleskin and a pen. I know that the power of my iPhone makes it a great little notebook the feverish pecking at it is distracting. Last week, while hiking, I told my wife to “go on ahead” and scratched out a few lines in my notebook while standing on the trail. Always be available to your ideas! Great post.

    • I have totally stopped in the middle of a hike to make notes. Most people would probably think it’s odd to pack a notebook and pen (two pens, actually, in case one runs out); but to me it’s critical gear. 😉 Nice to know I’m not the only one.

  6. Every Monday morning I write for just ten minutes and publish the results on my blog every week, it’s very freeing! I love starting from nothing, with just a faint tug somewhere, and seeing where it takes me. I really liked your examples, too, especially the first one. As someone who is often woken up by a cat sitting on her I can understand that one perfectly, too. I’m glad you can find the time to just write and are enjoying it!

    • Hello, Sarina. Wow. You must be a very fast writer to have produced those pieces in only ten minutes. I have to admit that the one about the blood sacrifice of loyals made me a bit squeamish, but I guess that means it did its job, right?

      So, you have a cat who likes to use you for a bed, too? I have two – a kitten (now three years-old) and her mother. It’s the mother, Bella, who sleeps on my chest – so close up to my face that her whiskers often tickle my cheeks (or get up my nose!). It means I can’t move all night, but it’s worth it. 😉

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Hi, Jamie 🙂 We only have the one cat but she’s very possessive of us and likes to force her cuddles on us whether we like it or not. Usually it’s fine but when she starts cuddling right before we need to go somewhere it’s a little more difficult 🙂 You’re right, it’s definitely worth it!
        Thanks for checking out my 10Minute shorts! It’s not a lot of time but I try to just let the words flow and not look at the huge amount of spelling mistakes something like this causes. Also sometimes I get closer to 15 minutes, all depending on how well it goes 🙂 I don’t want to stop mid-sentence so if it takes a couple of minutes more it just has to take longer 🙂

      • Most cats aren’t accustomed to taking no for an answer, right? 😉

        I LOVE it when my 10 minutes stretches out a bit. I always take that as a good sign – that I’m on to something & starting to find a groove. I try not to let it go TOO much longer (so I can stay true to the intention behind the practice), but when you have to write, you have to write!

    • And, as dreams, they remain – perhaps – more sacred somehow.
      I will sometimes “write” in my head – forming sentences and repeating them, adding a little bit more and a little bit more; but my end goal is always to remember them long enough that I can write them down. I know my memory will fail me quickly, which is why I usually try to find the quickest method of capture – scribbling, tapping, even speaking into a voice recorder app.

      Still, even the ones that I haven’t managed to trap are, I think, part of my work. Just because they were fleeting doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist and in some way influence my other work. I suppose it’s like the books I read and can’t always recall. Though I couldn’t name the characters or replay the details of the plot, something of their “essence” is still with me and becomes part of what I write.

  7. Well, I free writing. Mainly I write something like this:
    The Sun was shining on his tiny face. Small drops of dew surrounded him as he was sleeping on the grass. Water lay at his feet releasing a damp smell. Puddles filled with water were the evidence that it rained overnight. The boy sleptvwith his mouth open and then someone slapped him on the face.
    I also do essays and my short stories automatically extend to form full length books. This somehow proves to be good when there goes a drought of ideas in my mind.
    Your pieces were wonderful even if you consider them or not.

    • Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing an example of your freewriting. You evoke many senses in that short piece.

      I haven’t been “playing” long enough with this practice to see if any of these quickie pieces will develop into longer ones, but I’m interested to find out!

      Thanks for being here. 🙂

  8. Outstanding, Jamie!!! You are using your precious 10 minutes in a life-affirming way, my friend. I loved every piece, but the moon one gripped my insides and it’s a tale I’d love to see in its entirety. If you are ever beating yourself up for lack of writing time or overstuffed days, come back to these masterpieces to reassure yourself that you are RIGHT NOW writing in Full Bloom.

    • Hi, Sammy.
      I’m grinning from ear to ear at the generosity of your comment. Truly. I’m so glad you enjoyed the pieces, but more than that I am thankful for your affirmation that I am using my 10 minutes in a positive way. Though I am enjoying seeing the results of this new practice, I think the more important aspect of it – by far – is the intention. Even if what I write is awful, I feel good about having done it because that means I’m keeping a commitment to the work and to myself.

      It’s fun to be in Full Bloom. 😉
      xo

    • It sounds like that’s true for a lot of writers. I have yet to get to that point, but I can see how it would definitely happen, and I love how that might feel like plucking an idea out of thin air, like it was a gift from the muse. 😉

      Happy writing!

  9. I too like short little spurts of writing. But my strategy is a bit different. I let the words flow as they will. Striving for perfection often blocks my creativity. As long as the main idea is set to words, it can be refined. I find it best to take a day or two before I revisit a written piece. It’s then that my muse really takes hold. Glad to hear that short bits of time work for other writers as well.

    • Oh, I agree completely! These pieces I’m doing are unedited and definitely unplanned. Sometimes, it makes my inner editor crazy to be unable to start changing things up as I’m writing. (Who am I kidding? Sometimes? ALL the time!) But – as you say – best to let things sit for at least a day before going back to see what you’ve got to work with. I actually enjoy revising and editing. I find it much easier than the first draft.

      Thanks for being here!

    • Thank you so much. 🙂 The moon one definitely seems to be a favorite all ’round. Perhaps that’s because I wrote it outside … in the moonlight. Who knows?

      Thanks for being here and for taking the time to leave such a nice comment.

  10. Great post! Very helpful too. My problem is not time. I feel like I have a pretty free schedule to write. My problem is my creativity. I have such a hard time getting started on any type of story because I can’t come up with an idea I think is good enough. Any brainstorming suggestions?

    • Ahh … brainstorming. I should do a whole separate post on that. (In fact, we may have one or two on the blog already, but I’m not sure where they are.)

      One technique I’ve read about several times is taking two or more completely random and disparate objects and trying to build a story around that. So, for instance, your words might be “cat,” “spoon,” and “jetliner.” (Do people still say “jetliner”?) … and then you’d write something that included all three of those.

      Another technique, which the teacher used in a writing class I took last fall, was to give yourself a scenario and then come up with as many possible outcomes as possible. The idea is that your first thoughts about what would happen next will probably be less interesting than the ones you come up with further down the line. The example from class was: Cherry is waiting for her son to pick her up at the airport. He’s late. Again.
      And here are the five ideas I came up with in the five or so minutes we had to brainstorm:
      – Terrorists take over the terminal where she is waiting
      – She sees her son’s wife arm-in-arm with another man
      – She catches glimpses of her favorite movie star incognito and decides to stalk him, just a little.
      – She decides to have “just one drink” at the airport bar, despite the fact that she’s an alcoholic
      – She tries to call her son, but in her state of frustrated exasperation dials the number of the guy she recently broke up with
      …and then you go from there to see where the story leads.

      Hope that helps.
      Thanks for the comment and for the post idea! 😉

  11. For several years when my three children were young I had five notebooks and pencils in significant places around my home and even in the car.
    (for eg the toilet….found need there to ensure small bottle of instant hand disinfectant). Many of these notes were only sentences. Beyond the Ashes my novel (only published in 2014) was in fact a collection of these thoughts and notes. For example one day the thought came……What happens in a life when tragedy strikes?……..answer structure crumbles…….like ashes. I knew in that one moment I want to write a story Beyond the Ashes. Thus it was born! To answer your brainstorming suggestion query. Ask yourself a series of questions …Write them down and perhaps give the answer in a simple sentence in a book. ie Why did the dog take my sock and bury it?
    Why does my boss always wear a spotted tie? (that one actually happened to me) ….My answer and his answer years later were quite dis-similar. Your questions do not need to be profound! Enjoy the journey! Thanks for your blog and inspiration to me.

    • I love the idea of notebooks in every room, Faye. I will have to start doing that. As it is now, I often find myself running up and down the stairs and from room to room as thoughts strike me when my pen is out of reach. This often happens when I’m doing some physical task – folding laundry, lugging out the trash, emptying the dishwasher – and then I have to set my work aside and scurry over to my notebook to try and capture the idea before it floats away. Having notebooks placed strategically would probably save me loads of time! 😉

      I also love your observation that what you write doesn’t need to be profound. That’s part of what makes the 10-min practice to enjoyable to me – no expectations, no pressure. I can write anything and not risk being judged because the goal isn’t to write anything in particular (or, of any specific quality), it’s simply To Write. Period. And, sometimes, it’s surprising what our minds will deliver when they are free to just play.

      So glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thank YOU for being part of this community. xo

  12. I gave a little giggle when I saw this blog pop up on my reader. I just commented on another blog I read about how I struggle with finding some scheduled time to write my book. I work seven days a week and rarely have down time in long enough stretches to really delve into my novel. I want to allow two hours a day and on many days I am happy with just thirty minutes. I will try this micro-writing and see how it goes. Thanks for the suggestions! P.S. Loved your snippets of writing. I will definitely buy your novel once it is written. P

    • First, thank you for such a nice compliment. I’m not sure any sentiment could make me happier than hearing someone will buy my novel once it’s written. Pure inspiration to the writer!

      Second, I’d love to hear how you make out experimenting with this practice. I feel your pain about having so little down time. Life gets so damn busy, and our writing often falls to the bottom of the priority list. I like this practice because even if the ten minutes is all I have time for, it lets me keep my foot in the door, so to speak.

      Since you’re working on a novel, you might adapt the practice to serve your larger purpose by using the ten minutes to draft portions of scenes or capture character backstories or even just descriptions of settings. You never know what little nugget of a detail might show up and be useful to you later.

      Good luck, and thanks so much for being here! 🙂

  13. This was a refreshing read for me. Mostly because I have to wait for my muse…it’s almost like I can’t write until I’m hit with a faint spark of inspiration. Only then can I harness the thought I want to put into words. Maybe it’s writer’s block. Maybe I’m just a flake when it comes to scheduling my time to write. Either way, I’m glad to have read this today 🙂

    • Believe me – I struggle with finding that “spark,” too. I usually start my ten-minute session with a moment of utter panic, thinking, “Crap. I have NO idea what to write. My mind is blank. I have NO ideas. At all.” The trick, for me, is to just relax my mind and pay attention to what drifts past my mind’s eye. It doesn’t usually take too long for something to grab my attention. It might be the most mundane thing, but it’s enough to give me a first word and then a first sentence. From there, it’s just a matter of keeping my hand moving. The piece about the ghost is a good example of an exercise for which I had no direction at all. I saw a rumpled man in a trench coat, slouching dejectedly into the underground and that was it. From there, I just kept moving my hand. It almost feels like I’m just watching the action and writing down what I see vs. trying to think it up and then write it down. Weird, I know.

      ANYway … I hope that helps.
      Thanks for being here!

  14. As a musicteacher the non-verbal world is more what I am feeling comfortable in. And the spoken world is quite effective for me. As soon as it comes to writing down me thoughts and ideas I often reach the point that I can well follow the written lines, but another person can become confused pretty soon. Feels so hard to put it in short and understandable bits and pieces if there are 20 sentences “waiting to get out”. so: Could you understand this? 😉
    …thanks for your blog! Means MOTIVATION to me…

    • Hello. Yes, I think I’m following. 🙂

      An exercise that you might find helpful is to do a quick little prioritization of your ideas. For instance, whether you’re writing a how-to article or a fiction scene, there is a collection of information that you need your reader to understand. This collection of information is your sentences – your ideas. Start by writing out all these ideas in random order, and then try to reorder them in a way that you think will help the reader understand what you’re trying to say.

      So, for instance, if I’m writing a scene about a girl hiding in a cafe from mysterious pursuers, my list of information I need to convey might include:
      – The girl is hiding
      – She is being chased
      – How she feels – scared/confused/mad?
      – How she got to the cafe (some backstory/flashback)
      – Something about who she is – age, description, lifestyle
      – What’s going to happen next

      Once I know what I am trying to say, I can start figuring out how to say it. What can I write that will help me show that the girl is hiding. Is she tucked into a corner table behind a fern? Is she wearing dark glasses and a hat? Is she trying to blend in with some people even though she doesn’t know them? And what about ways to show she’s being chased? Is she out of breath? Is she looking over her shoulder?

      Sometimes, breaking things down to this level of detail is the only way to get your head around the best way to order the information so it makes sense to the reader. If you were a more visual learner, it might help to think about it like painting a picture – what will you put in the picture and how will you render it? As a music teacher, maybe you can think about what you write in a way similar to how a composer might layer different notes and sounds to create a full sound. In a piece of symphonic music, I would expect that there are some elements that help to ground the listener, some that help pull her through the piece of music, some that keep the tempo, others that offer counterpoint … each element has a job to do. Maybe you can think about your writing a little like that.

      Hope this helps. Happy writing & thanks for being here!

      • Hi Jamie, so many many thanks for your detailed answers and examples. They really gave me a great inspiration to continue and STRUCTURE 😉 my approach to writing. Have a nice day with lots of stories…
        Jürgen

      • I’m so glad you found these ideas helpful, Jurgen.
        And thank you for wishing me a day filled with stories. That’s the best! 🙂

  15. So many times I get a spark of inspiration that forms a hazy story in my head but it somehow fizzles out. Quite often, I have hit the roadblock and left the story mid-way. Your idea of writing random stories seems nice. When you have a lot of these short stories, you can always integrate them in your novel and let the momentum continue.

    • Sometimes, writing the random stories is just a nice break from your work on a larger piece. Whether they wind up in a novel or not, they can offer you a little respite from what you’re working on – a chance to play. And, you never know what you might discover/uncover while you’re playing … maybe the idea for a whole new novel! 😉

      Thanks much & happy writing!

  16. I like the suggestion of taking 10 min. at any time of day and seeing where it leads. I’m pretty sporadic with writing so I feel like this is an easy way to work into more of a routine.
    I especially love the direction your “Moon” writing took, by the way! Did it surprise you as you were working on it or did you have the idea as soon as you saw the moon?

    • I think that establishing a routine is one of the most valuable aspects of this practice. Even if I’m not really getting much done, just the habit of doing SOMEthing, is hugely helpful to my overall writing.

      Each of these pieces surprised me as I wrote them. It’s a very different experience from the way I usually write (I’m very much a planner, not a pantster). I actually would be writing along, and then I’d think to myself, “Huh. I didn’t expect that.” And then I’d just roll with it and see where else the scene would take me. At times, it feels like working with a kind of Ouija board or something. 😉

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  18. A worthy goal–ten minutes–and maybe even doable for a pregnant mom of a toddler! (Because those long stretches of writing time, as you mentioned, just aren’t abundant right now, and might never be!)

    • I’d be impressed if you could string together 10 minutes in a row. 😉
      I have one daughter – eleven years-old now – but I SO remember those days of having almost NO time to myself. At all.

      What’s nice about a ten-minute practice is that we tend to stretch or condense our work to fit the time allotted. If I had two hours to write, I can almost guarantee that I’d spend a big chunk of that time fretting over the blank screen, worrying, doubting, waiting for inspiration. When I only have ten minutes, I just buckle down and get it (something!) done.

      This is part of why I think moms make excellent writers (and, actually, workers in general). We don’t have time to mess around. We just need to get it done. And, we do!

      Good luck to you! I’ll send you wishes for a cooperative toddler who takes long naps!

      • Thanks for the encouragement, Jamie! Early motherhood is definitely a challenging time, in so many ways, and my writing has definitely taken a backseat to higher priorities. My toddler does take great naps, for which I’m thankful! The problem now is that I’m so exhausted with pregnancy that I find myself sleeping away a lot of that time. One really heartening happening lately was selling my first solo book–which I mostly wrote before my first child came along–so I will ride the coattails of that success until I have more time and energy to write again.

      • To everything there is a season, right?
        Congrats on selling your first solo book. That’s such exciting news.
        Rest. Play. You’ll rediscover your writing “groove” in new ways as you adapt to motherhood. It’s all part of the adventure! 😉

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  20. It can be difficult to find time to write. I remember when I started to seriously write in eighth grade, I kept a small composition notebook stashed in between broken metal wires under my English-literature-homeroom desk, behind a poster in math, and behind books on the bottom shelf of my history class. Everyone always wondered where I got the notebooks from, and before I moved halfway through the second semester, my classmates thought I was crazy. I felt very sneaky and productive (I was able to write around 1,000 words per day during breaks in classes.).

    Now that I have time to write for two to three hours each evening, I find distractions/excuses popping up, but that’s a special problem of its own. This post has inspired me to go back to my old methods. 🙂

    • Your description of your “old methods” sounds like the beginning of an interesting story/fascinating character. Love the ingenuity of your approach to “stolen time.” I hope you have fun experimenting with those techniques even though you have more time available to you. You never know what might result from some focused efforts in shorter periods of time.

      Good luck!

  21. Entertained and inspired – is this the perfect blog post?! 😊
    I have come to the conclusion that I write best the less time I have, almost like I need to be backed into a corner :). I used to think the same about yoga as well – that I needed 1 1/2 hours of uninterrupted time to have a yoga practice, and as this rarely happened, I rarely did yoga. Now, I know that 10 minutes is enough for a yoga practice and a daily writing habit, and 10 minutes every day is better than an hour once a week…
    Also Jamie, I love your stories. Your moon one was exceptional xo

    • Ahhh … the elusive “perfect blog post” – a creature of myth and mystery.

      Now that you mention it, I have fallen into a similar need-more-time trap regarding other pursuits in my life – yoga, walking, even reading. Like you, I used to assume that I needed at least an hour to fit any of these things into my day, but the truth is that a little is better than none. So, 10 minutes of writing or 15 minutes of yoga/stretching, or a 10-minute walk around the block … they all “count” and they all have their own benefits. Most of the time, I think I was just letting my own fears use a lack of long stretches of time as an excuse to avoid doing the work and putting myself out there. It’s an easily justified excuse, but apparently it doesn’t hold water under closer scrutiny. 😉

      Thanks for the kind words about my “stories.” Flattered and blushing. ❤

      • Totally! I think it’s an ego trap, this idea that we need these long stretches of time, similar to this idea that everything must be perfect for us to undertake a, b or c…and seeing that there is no such thing as the perfect time, we never get started.

  22. Pingback: Your Favorite 2015 “Weekend Edition” and “Short and Sweet” Writing Posts | Live to Write – Write to Live

  23. Pingback: Short and Sweet Advice for Writers: Take 10 | Slattery's Art of Horror Magazine

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