Sign up for our FREE Email Newsletter

Monday, October 16, 2017

 

Five Minutes a Day: Roughing Out Your Novel


About a month ago, Sioux challenged us to state a BHAG – a big, hairy, audacious goal. Mine is writing a piece of fiction long enough to require chapters. The problem is that I’m writing two nonfiction books and, thus, the fiction keeps falling by the wayside.


A friend of mine drafted her first novel writing fifteen minutes a day on her lunch break. But that just didn’t feel do-able. To put it simply, I’m a full time writer who doesn’t have a single full time work day. I’m hoping that will change soon, but it is going to require some help from outside. So right now I’m learning to work around it.

Fifteen minutes a day is impossible but five minutes a day is do-able. But is it enough? Can you really rough out a novel in five minutes a day? I wasn’t sure but it wouldn’t hurt to try. For the last month, I’ve written five minutes a day on my novel. Most days I don’t get to it until bed time but I pop in here and do those five minutes.

But is it enough?

A month ago, I had two chapters or 1000 words. Today, having worked five minutes a day for a month, I have 6,400 words.

They won’t all make it into the final draft. One chapter wandered off in an odd-ball direction. You know how it goes. The whole chapter, you’re type-type-typing, but something feels off. I realized I had no clue how to get from the end of this chapter to the end of the book. I’d written myself into a corner.

That’s when I looked at my outline. It’s a lot like looking at the map after you get lost. I had definitely taken a wrong turn. And that’s okay. A rough draft is rough. Brilliant statement, yes?

The point is that I managed to keep writing even during the week that I drafted 12,000 words on one of my nonfiction projects. Fifteen minutes a day? Impossible, but five worked.

Part of what makes it work is acknowledging that this draft is truly rough. I don’t go back. I just keep moving forward. And that’s okay. When I write later today, I’ll just ignore chapter 10a and start at the beginning of chapter 10b. I’m not deleting the messed up chapter because I actually need part of it. I’ll just keeping moving forward and sort things out in the rewrite.

NaNoWriMo is coming up. It’s a great idea if it works for you, but not everyone can draft that many words in a month.

But five minutes a day? You can do that. And in a month you’ll have about 5,000 words. Keep it up and your word count will reach even higher.

5 minutes. You can do it.

--SueBE

To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins January 8th, 2017.

Labels: , , , ,

8 Comments:

Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--It was Renee's idea--the BHAG--and what a brilliant one.

I am in awe. That many words in just 5 minutes a day? I don't think anyone can honestly say, "I don't have five minutes to write."

Amazing.

9:56 AM  
Blogger MP said...

It's hard to believe that 5 minutes a day can work, but you're selling it! Pretty cool.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

That's amazing, Sue! I can't imagine writing five minutes a day and getting more than a couple of sentences down because I tweak on sentences over and over while working on them. You must show up to the page mentally prepared I'm guessing? Like doing some prewriting in your mind before you show up to the page? Either way, it's impressive.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Renee, of course! My apologies!

Yep, just five minutes. But no fiddling with those sentences. This is a rough draft. R-O-U-G-H.

I tend not to call it pre-writing. I "noodle it over." But once I've done that, I can fly through a page in about 10 minutes.

I suspect I take a higher than average number of rewrites to make it pretty though.

Thank you for the kind words, Ladies!

--SueBE

7:59 PM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

This sounds like a great plan--but I'm not sure if I could stop at five minutes if I got into a writing groove. It would be hard! Very inspiring, Sue!

5:17 PM  
Blogger Mary Horner said...

I'm working a lot this semester, but even I can come up with five minutes, thanks for the reminder that the important thing is just making it a habit.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I truly hope this helps someone else move forward with their own work. Last night, I hit the end of the first draft - this is a young middle grade novel for readers approx 10 years old so it isn't very long. But my first thought was "Oh, no. Now what will I do?" My next step will be letting this chill for a while. So on to a picture book on symbolism that I've been noodling over.
--SueBE

5:06 AM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I truly hope this helps someone else move forward with their own work. Last night, I hit the end of the first draft - this is a young middle grade novel for readers approx 10 years old so it isn't very long. But my first thought was "Oh, no. Now what will I do?" My next step will be letting this chill for a while. So on to a picture book on symbolism that I've been noodling over.
--SueBE

5:07 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts