Time Management,  What 10 Minute Novelists Means To Me,  Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day

Eight Things I Learned From Writing In 10-Minute Increments

I became a 10-minute novelist out of necessity.  Years ago when I had five kids under eight years old, I decided that it was time for me to pursue my writing dreams. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m going to assume that it was the sleep deprivation that made me think this was possible.

The more I thought about it, the more I believed I could do it.

First of all, because I was a mother, I was used to the game of inches. I knew that a little bit every day makes things happen. This was true because my children outgrew their clothes. I knew this because I watched them grow into great readers. I thought that I could probably spare 10 minutes a day to write. Maybe not much more than that, but that was a start.

I also knew that if I waited for the perfect time to write, it would never come.

It would be far better for my happiness if I started now and kept at it. I’m so glad I did!


Eight Things I Learned Writing in 10 Minute Increments by Katharine Grubb

This is what I learned by consistent setting and re-setting of my timer:

  1. I can do anything for 10 minutes. I have a bit of an attention problem and I get distracted easily. By working in shorter bits of time, I can stay focused. It turns out that by working in smaller increments, my brain is constantly active and it helps me retain information too.
  2. I taught myself how to work fast. If I only have 10 minutes to write, and I’m not sure if I’m going to get more 10-minute increments during the day, I speed things up pretty quickly. I don’t waste my time with spelling or grammar, I don’t self-edit, I just get something down. Anything. The sense of accomplishment is so rewarding!
  3. I work well when I can see big tasks broken down into smaller ones. Instead of freaking out over writing a 120K word book, I just have to write a paragraph or a sentence. That seems so much more manageable to me.
  4. This method taught me to be ready and organized. I had no choice but to always know where my document was. I had no choice but to know what task was coming up next — would it be dishes or laundry? This kept me on my toes and made me more efficient with my entire day.
  5. It lowered my expectations of accomplishments. I could celebrate these tiny victories, like “I wrote for 20 minutes day!” Instead of beating myself up for not getting 10,000 words written.
  6. The timer reminded me that I am a writer. This time that I made for myself is a commitment: I have to write no matter what. The more I did it, the more  I grew in confidence.
  7. My children could understand 10-minute increments. I mean, some of the time, anyway. I coached them to understand that when I was seated at my desk in the kitchen, they needed to wait for my attention. Woe to the child that wanted a glass of apple juice in the wrong 10-minute increment! Once the timer dinged, it was their cue to engage with me. This isn’t a perfect system. My children learned to respect my work. It also set an example to them — that their work was worth doing and that alone time was good.
  8. I became encouraged as time went on. My word counts grew bigger and bigger. I had more and more material to revise and edit. I was writing. My dream was coming true!

After five years writing in 10-minute increments, I finished my first novel.

I had been blogging about this 10-minute journey all this time. Then I wrote another book. A publisher contacted me through my blog.  They asked me to write a book: Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A DayAnd now I have three novels and two non-fiction books behind me. There is more to come!

Do you know someone who has a writing dream but believes that they don’t have time to pursue their dream? Share this link with them!

They can also join my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists which gives tips, encouragement, and community for time-crunched writers everywhere.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.


  • Sef

    This resonates with me – I’ve always written in small chunks of time wherever they can be found. It means I am not precious about a special writing place/time/pen. It means I have to just get on with it whether I want to or not, because when I want to, I’ll probably be busy. To me, this kind of writing is the most useful practice of all.

  • April Davila

    Great post! And high five for you for getting anything done with five kids under eight. This is exactly why I love your blog. I mean, if anyone had plenty of excuses, you certainly did, but you kept writing. I’ve been getting up early to write and sometimes, when the kids wake up and I have to close the computer to get them ready for school, I wish I could just keep writing into the day, but hey, I wrote for an hour this morning. I write for an hour most mornings, and I feel pretty good about that. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Peggy Larkin

    What a perfect thing for me to read today– I waste tons of time that I could spend writing and often don’t follow the advice I give my creative writing students: something is better than nothing. Finished is better than good. We can fix a bad page; we can’t fix a blank page. Thanks for the pep talk!! Tomorrow I’m going to write for ten minutes…or more!

  • Claire

    Great post – I found myself identifying with so much of this! I’ve recently started trying out 30-minute writing sprints, and am always amazed at how much I can achieve when I commit to that small period of time.

    Your success with the ten-minute method is a great wake-up call, too – if you can write a novel in that way with five small children, someone with NO kids (like me) has no excuse!

    Thanks for the inspiration 🙂