Take 5 Friday: Make the most of ‘gifted’ time

by Christine Hennebury

As a 10 Minute Novelist, you know that choosing to carve out small sections of your day to put pen to paper is a great way to keep writing. 

Those chosen writing sessions are terrific, but are you ready for when you receive the gift of unscheduled time?


You’re picking your kid up from rehearsal and they run a little overtime. 

You get to your next meeting a few minutes early. 

Your friend has to cancel your coffee date.

Any of those situations could present you with some unexpected time and you might want to spend those gifted minutes with your writing.*

If you only have a few unexpectedly free minutes, you want to be ready to dive right into your writing.

Here are 5 ways you can get the most out of your gifted time:

background image of a stack of books, a cup of coffee, a typewriter and a clock. Foreground image is a yellow circle with the text 'Take 5: Make the most of gifted time'

Make writing an option

When a pocket of time opens up, we either decide what to do with it or we default to scrolling on our phones/people watching. 

By deciding in advance that writing is an option in those gifted times, you are taking the first step toward actually doing it!

Two minutes doesn’t feel like a lot but it’s enough time to capture a good idea…or to come up with one. 

Keep a list of ideas

When you decide to write during your gifted time, you don’t want to spend a lot of time deciding *what* to write.

Keep a list of ideas or a list of needed scenes so you can just pick one and get writing. Don’t spend  a lot of time deciding – if none of your ideas appeal to you, just pick the first one and go!

Here are a few ideas to get your list started: 1) practice describing hair 2) explain why you didn’t like one of your neighbours 3) describe what could happen if you drink too much water 4) why is that puddle there 5) what’s the worst sandwich

Keep your tools handy

Carry a notebook or index cards and a pen. Choose a writing or dictation app on your phone. Bring your laptop with you, just in case. 

Making these decisions in advance means you are prepared to take advantage of any writing time that pops up. 

Write without editing

If you want to make the most of a short period of time, you have to commit to doing one thing. 

If you have decided to write, then write. Pour out as many words as you possibly can, even if they are awful.  No one else has to see it and you can always revise later!

If you are struggling to stop editing as you write, it might help for you to just correct yourself without going back to delete what you previously wrote. (For example: Here is a thing that I writed oh that was a typo I meant to say wrote…) It is inelegant but it does keep you writing forward. 

(Of course, you can also decide to edit or revise during your pocket of time just don’t try to mix the two or your pocket of time will be very unsatisfying.)

Keep track of your gifted writing time

When you have been gifted a pocket of time, take note of how long it was and how  much you were able to write.When you see how much writing you can fit into those small pockets, you will be inspired to keep using them to get bits of writing done. 

Write On!

*Please note that I am NOT suggesting that you must be ‘productive’ with every second of your day. Writing can be a great way to use those gifted minutes but you could also spend that time resting, reading, catching up with a friend or doing anything else that serves you well. Please don’t take these suggestions as ‘You MUST write during these times.’ My intention is to say ‘Here’s how you CAN write during these times.’