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!
This is what I learned by consistent setting and re-setting of my timer:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Day. And 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!
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.