How To Avoid Becoming A “One Day” Writer

By Jennifer Blanchard
Back when I was preparing for NaNoWriMo, I read “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month, and he mentioned something in the book about not being a “one day” writer. And what he said is so profound, I felt the need to share it with you.
[As a sidenote, if you are interested in participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but aren’t sure what to write about, check out Baty’s book. It’s loaded with great information about how to get from day one to day 30 with a completed manuscript. It’s definitely a NaNoWriMo first-timer must-read!]
In Baty’s book, he says:

“Outside of writing classes, we never quite get the professional-grade push we need to tackle big, juicy, creative projects like novel writing….We’re slammed at work and busy at home…there’s barely enough time in a day all our mandatory obligations, so optional activities like novel writing, journaling, painting or playing music…are invariably left for another day…which is how most of us become ‘one day’ novelists. As in, ‘One day, I’d really like to write a novel.’ Problem is that that day never seems to come, and so we’re stuck.”

I’m sure we can all attest to what Baty is saying. It’s hard to find time for the things you want to do because there are so many things you need to do that come first. But in order to avoid being a “one day writer,” you need to find time–fifteen minutes a day, whatever–to get your writing done. (This is yet another reason why NoNoWriMo is such a great invention. It gives you a 30-day deadline in which to complete a 50,000-word novel.)

And actually, that’s the main way to going to get your novel written–by setting a deadline. I know I talk about this pretty often, but it’s a major factor in being a novelist, especially if you’d like to eventually write fiction for a living.

So to get you started on the path to no longer being a “one day writer,” here are 3 tips:

  • Set a Deadline–Since I just mentioned this, I thought I’d reiterate it. Although it’s sometimes difficult, setting self-imposed deadlines and meeting them will get you on writing faster (and better) than any other thing.

And don’t forget to reward yourself. If you hit a deadline–whatever it may have been–reward yourself. Take the day off from work and get a pedicure, go buy that new book you’ve wanted to read, get yourself something from your Amazon wishlist, anything that will make you feel rewarded and special, which will make you want to keep writing.

  • Step Away from the TV–If you’re going to get your writing done, you need to make time to write, which starts with blocking out all distractions. And a good distraction to eliminate first is the TV. Without even realizing it, TV has taken over much of our free time.For example, the other day I got an e-mail from a writer friend. She was talking about how she “really wants to write her book, but can’t find the time.” So I asked her, how much TV do you watch each night and she said, “Oh, about 4 hours.” Bingo! That’s 4 hours she could be writing.Obviously going cold-turkey on the TV time is not going to keep you away, but maybe, instead of spending 4 hours watching TV each night, cut back to 3 hours, and spend the fourth hour writing.
  • Leave Your Inner Editor at the Door–This is one of the biggest things you can do to avoid being a “one day” writer. Many times writers stop themselves from actually writing because they’re afraid it won’t be very good.This is a common fear for most writers, so don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself falling into this category. The important thing is you recognize it now and can take steps toward actually writing.One thing that I do which seems to be pretty helpful is I drew a “Turn Off Inner Editor” ‘button’ in my writing notebook. Now when I’m sitting down to write something, I first open my notebook and “push” the ‘button.’ Once I give myself permission to turn off my inner editor, I am able to write more without judgment.

So Procrastinating Writers…what say you? Are you ready to become a writer, rather than a “one day” writer?

17 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Write

By Jennifer Blanchard

One of the most common excuses many writers give for why they procrastinate is “I don’t have the time to write.”

True, people are busier these days then they ever have been before–we’re multi-tasking machines, filling every second of our days with a task of some kind, always so busy….blah, blah, blah.

If you stop for a second and take a look at your day, I bet you can find at least 10 minutes somewhere that you can write (and you could probably even find a few 10-minute blocks of time).

You don’t have to be writing all day every day in order to get your writing done. You’d be surprised how efficient you can be when you only have ten minutes to write (especially if writing is something you truly love to do).

Inspired by the blog post, 10 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Write, on, I am going to give you 17 ways you can find at least 10 minutes to write everyday. So here they are…17 ways to find 10 minutes to write every day:

  • Before you get out of bed in the morning–when you wake up, roll over, turn on your light, grab your notebook and write for 10 minutes (this is an exercise called “Morning Pages“).
  • While you’re waiting for your girlfriend/husband/kids to get out of the shower so you can get in.
  • While you’re waiting for the coffee to finish brewing
  • While you’re waiting for your kid’s school bus to come.
  • While you’re sitting in traffic–I don’t condone you write while you’re driving, but if you are sitting in traffic that is completely stopped (which happens a lot when there’s an accident), it’s ok to grab a notebook and jot a couple ideas down. (Just be sure to watch the road for when the cars start moving again.)
  • As soon as you get to your desk–when you get to the office, instead of spending a half hour checking your e-mails, take a quick glance to see if there are any e-mails that need immediate response, then grab a notebook or bring up a Word document and spend 10 minutes writing. You can always go back to the less-important e-mails later.
  • During your morning coffee/smoke break–bring your notebook with you and write.
  • During a meeting–yes, we all know that most meetings are a waste of time, so if you find yourself in one of these meetings, jot down some notes for your next story or poem.
  • On your lunch break–if you’re not using your lunch break to run errands, grab your laptop or notebook and head outside or to your company’s breakroom (or stay at your desk) and write while you eat (you may even get more than 10 minutes of writing time at lunch).
  • During your afternoon coffee/smoke break.
  • As soon as you walk in the door from work–yes, dinner needs to be made and there is homework to be done and a Girl Scout’s meeting and spending twenty minutes on the treadmill before bed. But before you do all that, take 10 minutes and write. Just getting down on paper those poem ideas or that great opening line to your next short story you came up with in your morning meeting will help you put your focus on the rest of your evening, while also keeping your writing on the back of your mind.
  • While dinner is cooking–unless you’re a beginner, you’ve probably mastered the art of making dinner. That also means you’ve got at least 10 minutes of time–while the rice is cooking, while the burgers are grilling–to write.
  • After dinner before you settle in to watch your favorite TV shows.
  • During the commercial breaks of your TV shows.
  • Before you go to bed–just quickly before you go to sleep, write for 10 minutes.
  • In place of watching a TV show you’ve already seen–you know what I’m talking about because we all do it: watching reruns of a show you like because there’s nothing better on. Instead, write for 10 minutes (or longer!).
  • After you put your kids to bed–once the little ones go to sleep, write!

So as you can see, there are plenty of ways to find 10 minutes in your day to write. No excuses, put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write for 10 minutes today.