Tag Archives: timer

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.

How To Write In 10 Minute Increments The Messy Way

My timer and I have a love/hate relationship. 

Ever since I started calling myself the 10 Minute Writer, back in 2006, I’ve realized that either I’m racing against the timer, or the timer haunts me for my lack of skill and speed. 

Let's Write (1)

During the first minute, it’s like priming the pump, I just write words, any kind of words.

During the second minute I may think of a metaphor and I get it down quickly. The third minute could be a silly stretch of the metaphor (I always want to stretch my metaphors as far as they can go). And my fourth minute is the second guessing of that metaphor and perhaps where I slip into my frequent neurosis about the original idea and I may check the time to see how much I have left. And the fifth minute I wonder if I’ve got anything else left to say. And the sixth minute is remembering what I’m going to do after this is over. And the seventh minute is a reminder to myself  that hey, at least this smattering of words is something. (And something is always better than nothing!) And the eighth minute is rereading everything I’ve written so far and resisting the temptation to waste my time editing. And the ninth minute I wrestle with more self-doubt. Or maybe I remember the puzzle pieces of a quote I’m going to have to look up. I don’t want to waste time on that yet.  And the tenth minute, of course, I’m inspired because I have an new take on the idea and just about the time that I realize that I can make some sense of this idea, the timer dings and I get to make a choice. Do I go back to the housework or the to-do list, or do I reset my timer? Today I’m going to go to the housework.

Enough 10 minute segments like that and eventually I’ll have something worth editing. And even that happens in 10 minute increments. 

I must keep writing in any increment of time. I must keep putting the words down. I can’t be afraid of stream of consciousness or a brain spew.

Because of this method, I’ve learned to write faster. I’ve learned to ignore the self-editor. I’ve learned to plan my non-writing time effectively so I can make the most of this time.

Do you need help writing in short spurts? 

Try this:

  1. Get your document ready.
  2. Send your inner editor out on a fruitless errand so you can work alone.
  3. Get all those little things you think you need, like the right music, the right font or the right beverage.
  4. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  5. Describe why this topic you’re writing about (or the story, the character, the setting) is so important.
  6. Go as quickly as you can. Try not to backspace for errors.
  7. If you’re stuck, go back to the beginning and just rewrite what you wrote. You may like a second version better.
  8. Don’t look at the clock if you can.
  9. Add fluff words, descriptions, back story, or nonsense. You need this to teach your self-editor who the boss is, to practice writing quickly and you never know, you may strike gold.
  10. When the timer dings, walk away. Don’t analyze it. Don’t start editing.
  11. Spend the next segment of time doing something mindless or necessary.
  12. When you return to your writing, keep going until you have a natural stopping point. Don’t edit until you have a good chunk to work with.
  13. Repeat as needed.
  14. Be flexible with this system. Figure out what works. You may want more time. You may want less. The point is, you wrote words. That’s all that matters.

My original words are just mediocre. I know that they’re nothing magical. I know that most of them will cut, twisted, refurbished, pitched, smashed and smoothed.

But the point is that I have more now than I did 10 minutes ago. 

Let's Write all the words in 2016 by Katharine Grubb
Click the image above for the link to the fastest growing writers group on Facebook!

You can do this too. 

We have 1,460 10 minute segments available to us in 2016. You’re not going to write in all of them, but you’ll write in some. Do what you can.

I think you’ll be pleased with the results.



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Available for $.99! 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

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. 

The Writers’ Guide To Time Thieves A Guest Post by Elaine Bayless

As 10 Minute Novelists, we live life in the margins. Ten minutes here, ten minutes there, a few word sprints, and boom we have a novel! So it makes sense that we would be excellent managers of time, right?

Ah yes, I can hear some of you laughing right now. Managing time is like nailing Jell-o to a wall. And to complicate matters further, we must contend with Time Thieves.

What are time thieves? Those sneaky critters that sneak into our daily calendar and steal away our precious 10 minute writing increments! Fortunately, you don’t have to be a victim. Here are four of the most common time thieves and how to combat them.

Writers' Guide To Time Thieves by Elaine Bayless
Writers’ Guide To Time Thieves by Elaine Bayless
1. The Squeaky Wheel: It’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Emergencies pop up, accidents happen, and sometimes we run up against a deadline and must neglect some tasks to complete others.

We do need to attend to those squeaky wheels, but we also need to give attention to the other three wheels. Patching one flat tire does no good if the other three tires have worn away their tread. The worst thing about this time thief is that it is totally valid. Emergencies do have to be addressed and deadlines must be met. But as writers, we have a shared dream that we know is equally valid. Make your writing a squeaky wheel.

– Enlist your community in your writing goals: Kids, spouses, roommates and friends all need to know what you’re up to. When they understand your priority, they can be enlisted to handle some of the squeaky wheels in daily life.

– Set an alarm. For extra fun, make it the sound of a squeaky wheel. Whenever the alarm goes off, do a word sprint.

2. TV Streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, get behind me, you time thieves!

You innocently sit down and think, “Hmmm, maybe I’ll check out this Parks and Rec show that everyone is talking about.” Three hours later you look up in a daze and wonder where the time went! Save the marathons for special times – like pregnancy bed rest, surgery recovery, a sick day, or a very special date night. Otherwise, decide BEFORE you turn it on exactly how many episodes you’ll watch.

Expert tip: half hour shows are typically only 22 minutes long and hour shows are only 44 minutes. That means if you decide to sit down and watch 2 half hour episodes, you have 16 minutes you can use to write. Yes, I’m serious! Open your WIP, set a timer for 8 – 16 minutes and write. Then reward yourself with the TV show of your choice.

3. The Shoulds: These are the external expectations that steal time from your day.

You should get to work on time. You should work late more than once a week. You should cook. You should have a clean house all the time. You should get up early to exercise/meditate/read the paper. You should look sexy/confident/put-together every day. You should volunteer at your kid’s school. You should respond thoughtfully to every Facebook post you read. You should make every blog post a miniature work of art that Elizabeth Gilbert (or Danielle Steele, or Truman Capote) would weep over. These “shoulds” work their way into our unconscious mind and leap out whenever we have 10 minutes to spare. So instead of writing our novel, we wipe down the kitchen counters, or trim our nose and ear hair. Whenever you hear yourself say the word “should,” take notice and pause. Ask yourself WHY the task in question “should” be done. You may find that many such tasks are completely optional. Or, if they aren’t optional, they may just be less important that using that time to write.

How can I get my family to leave me alone?
I mean, pretty please, with sugar on it?
4. Smart Phones/Tablets: Oh my goodness, these are tempting, aren’t they?

We check the weather and then glance at our Twitter newsfeed. We find a super fun game and suddenly we’re addicted. We look up one simple fact on Wikipedia and get lost clicking through from one related link to another. As with TV streaming, decided in advance how much time you’re going to give to this toy. Then set the timer on the phone and put it down as soon as the timer goes off. If you’re using the Internet for research, still set a timer. If you don’t find the answer before the timer goes off you can always add more time. Alternatively, disconnect from the wi-fi while writing (and put the phone is airplane mode), and just jot down anything you need to research. Then later, when you’re NOT writing, do the research.

Elaine Bayless is a member of the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group. She wrote Birds, Bees and Church Trailier Thieves and is the mother of a lively toddler. 

You Could Shoot For The Moon, Or You Could Try Just Getting Out of Bed (Why Having Low Expectations Isn’t A Such A Bad Strategy)

 This post is for you if you have any of the following:

1) A schedule that is so busy that you barely have time to go to the bathroom.

2) A belief that the only way to accomplish writing goals is to have hours and hours of uninterrupted time to yourself.

3) A vision that real writers have offices with lockable doors or lonely cabins in the woods or private islands or other extreme work space. 

I’d like to suggest that while you may be busy, you can still accomplish much in very small increments of time, even if it means working at your kitchen table.

Add text

I also believe that if you have big writing goals you’ll never accomplish them if you wait for the perfect schedule, the perfect uninterrupted session or the perfect workspace.

As much as you’d like to think you can shoot for the moon, I think that the moon, as beautiful and romantic as it is, isn’t even a little bit possible. At least for right now. It could be that in the season your life is in, to be a writer, we need to start small, we need to have low expectations. We need to just get out of bed. 

When I decided I wanted to write. I started small too. In spite of the fact that I had five children, all eight years old and under, and I was homeschooling them, and we lived in a tiny house, I would do my very best to write for ten minutes a day.

It looked like this: I set the timer on my microwave for ten minutes and then wrote. Once the timer went off, I reset it and emptied the dishwasher or folded a load of laundry or started a meal. I also checked on the children and made sure no one was bleeding. Once that timer went off, if I could, I went back to the computer and got a few sentences out. (Woe to the child who interrupted me while I wrote!)  I did this all afternoon and somehow, everything got done. 

I developed this system because I wanted to do it all. I wanted to give all to my family and pursue my writing dreams.  If I set my timer six times, I would have written for an hour. I believed that something was better than nothing, that this new discipline would pay off somehow, and I would be satisfied with this low expectation. 

And it worked! Eight years later, I’ve written three novels, blogged for six years, wrote countless articles, got my first contract, signed with an agency and now I have big plans for more. I don’t know if I’ve landed on the moon just yet, but I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was. I’m so glad I found the time to pursue my dreams, even when it didn’t seem possible.

Will this work for you? Try it!

1. Set your timer for ten minutes and write to me about why you can’t do this. Don’t stop typing. When the timer dings, look at how many words you wrote. It’s probably over 400.

2. Now write about what you want to be, what type of books you want to be known for, what your biggest passions are. When you’re done, remind yourself of these things that will make you happy.

3. Write for ten minutes on how you can restructure your day so that you can find more pockets of time.  Communicate this need to your family and other obligations so that you can meet your goal. Can you have more than one ten minute session a day? Over the next week, challenge yourself to get in more. If you can’t, don’t worry too much about it.

This website is fully dedicated to the time-crunched writer with big, big dreams.

How can I relieve my stress?
It does. It so does.

Join our Facebook group to meet writers who are just like you. We all have day jobs, lots of kids, many obligations but yet we want to pursue our dreams. We’ll cheer you on as you set that timer and get out of your bed.

And, Big News!

My book Write A Novel In 10 Minutes  is available for Pre-Order on Amazon.com!

You can place your order today!

Release date? March 26, 2015!

How to write a novel in 10 minutes
This isn ‘t the actual cover. But I wanted SOMETHING! #excited