by Vanessa K. Eccles
Here’s how most of my weeks begin:
I sit down to my coffee on Monday morning and write out a list with everything I hope to get accomplished that week. Many of the items have some sort of deadline or include correspondence (emails) that need to be sent that week. Others have no hard-fast deadline other than my own hopeful dates to accomplish them. Week after week, the same thing happens. I get the things I have to get done, but not a lot of the things that don’t have a deadline.
And sadly, the items that tend not to get worked on are my creative projects—like my novels. Outside of NaNoWriMo and its camps, I haven’t been adamant about working on my books for the past two years. This is because the podcast has taken over nearly all my time. And because it’s by far the most successful thing I do, it takes priority to all my other projects.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an article about different writing techniques to boost productivity. I’ve been around a while and almost all of them I’ve tried in some way before, so the article wasn’t very helpful. There was one; however, that really stood out--the process of writing a novel in 10 minutes per day.
I’ve always been a fan of word sprinting, and I’ve learned that 10 minutes is my optimal writing time. But I’d never considered only writing for one sprint per day. The idea seemed totally doable, but I was a bit skeptical. It seemed like it’d take forever to write a book while only devoting that much time to the task.
I decided to do the math. Because I’d already been doing 10-minute sprints for years, I knew what my average word count possibility would be. I average 305 words per 10 minutes. Let’s say my word count goal for my current novel is 70,000 words. If I divide 70,000 by 305, it equals about 230 days, which is a little over seven and a half months.
This made me think…
Though that’s far from Stephen King’s ideal of completing a book in a season, it’s not wildly far off, and it’s much more doable when you are balancing several projects at once (aren’t we all?). So, I decided to give it a try. I made myself a simple little chart on the computer, leaving a space for the date and a space for the word count for that day.
Starting the process, I realized that it reminded me of another challenge I did in 2016—100 Days of Continuous Practice. In that one, I worked on some part of my book every day for 100 days. I wasn’t very successful with that challenge, but it did teach me a few things.
Oh, I hate to admit that last one, especially since I like to pride myself on how fast I can produce creative work. But the real honest truth is… if I force myself to produce relentlessly, I no longer enjoy the journey. And that my friends, I refuse to allow. This method doesn’t put pressure on me, and it allows me to go at a super comfortable pace. I don’t feel forced. I feel excited for the time every day.
With what I’ve learned about continuous practice and the daily 10-minute sprint, I decided I’d combine them to see if I could manage to finally create the daily writing habit that all the people keep talking about.
I have been trying to finish up this book that I’ve been working on since January. It’s been a slow go because I’m juggling other things, but I wanted to make this project the area of focus for this challenge. In the past two weeks, since beginning the challenge, I’ve written 4,316 words.
I know, I know. That doesn’t sound like a lot. In the past, when I was able to devote my time to one project, I’d sometimes write that much in a day. But my life no longer allows me to spend that kind of time to one thing. With the amount of time I’ve spent on it, I’m actually pleased. This allows me to write a chapter every 7-9 days. This allows me to project with some accuracy when the novel will be complete. All in all, I’m thrilled just to be making headway on this while still meeting my other deadlines.
I found out there’s a wonderfully resourceful website, book [affiliate link], and Facebook group dedicated to the 10 Minute Novelists. Katharine Grubb started the movement. Full disclosure: I haven’t read the book and am not a part of the group, but I’m convinced this is a habit I need in my life.
TIPS I’VE LEARNED FOR SUCCESS:
If you’re feeling pressure or guilt for not writing enough, I hope you’ll give this method a try. It’s been a game-changer for me, so far. It still allows me to feel productive while not making me feel overwhelmed.
How do you write your novels? What’s your process?
You May Also Enjoy: