Sunday, June 19, 2011

About Ten Minutes

Like all experienced procrastinators, I am an expert at stalling, avoiding, prevaricating, and generally finding something else to do other than the thing that needs to be done – writing my stories.
I have read a lot of writing advice (procrastination technique #47, file that one under “research”) that suggests you need to write every day. Every day? Ack! I have a full and busy life. How could I possibly squeeze in writing? But wait! Only ten minutes is required. But how much could I possibly accomplish in ten minutes?
Years ago, I was in a small writing group with a couple of friends in Vancouver. One exercise we did was to write non-stop for ten minutes. No editing was allowed, no ruminating, just writing flat out for ten whole minutes. We timed it. When the ten minutes were up, we read what we’d written back to each other. Then we set the timer for another ten minutes. In just six of these ten-minute sessions, I was able to write about 8 pages of something – a picture book, part of a novel, a short story, a long article, a blog posting, an essay.
Ten minutes might be the absolute bare minimum of time you can manage on some days. But at least you’ve written something that day. There is satisfaction to be found in doing what you love. You will also be a few words closer to finishing your writing project. You will be honing your writing skills every time you spend ten minutes writing. And, you will eventually find that ten minutes stretches into an hour, maybe longer, on days when you have more time to give to writing.
That’s the theory. Give a try. All it takes is about ten minutes.