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.
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.