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A Few Short Minutes: Writing Every Day

Guest blogger Diane Stark is a former teacher turned freelance writer. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms and MomSense. She is the author of Teacher’s Devotions to Go.

My dad loved football.

As a little girl, I would do everything I could to gain his attention while he was watching the game. I’d stand in front of the television, offer to get him a snack, ask him questions about the game, anything to get him to glance my way. My dad would try to ignore me, and then call for my mother to come and get me, and finally, in desperation, he’d promise to take me for an ice-cream cone if I’d just sit still and be quiet for the last six minutes of the game.

“Six minutes? What can happen in six minutes? Can’t we just get the ice cream now?” I’d ask. “The Dolphins are winning by fourteen points. There’s no way the other guys can catch up in just six minutes.”

My dad would just sigh and shake his head. “A few short minutes can change everything” was his answer.

I haven’t watched football with my father in more than a decade, but I’ve never forgotten his words.

A few short minutes can change everything.

Those words are true about more than just football.

A touchdown is nothing more than getting the ball across the field, yard by precious yard. A novel, or an article, or even a poem is nothing more than our thoughts and our research, written down one word at a time. Either can happen in tiny increments or in one long burst of energy. How it happens isn’t important, but only that it does.

A few short minutes can change everything.

A football game. Or your writing career.

Six minutes is more than enough time to accomplish one small step toward improving your writing career. It’s plenty of time to locate writer’s guidelines on the Internet. It’s enough time to learn something new by reading an article in a writing magazine or on a writing website, or to study an article in your target publication. It’s more than enough time to sign up to receive a writing e-zine or to read one that you’re already getting. It’s enough time to write down a great idea or start on a character sketch. You can begin an outline or locate an interview source online. You can even type a paragraph or two. It’s enough time to take a step in the right direction.

Six minutes may not sound like a lot of time, but it’s too much time to waste. Most writers have to scrape for extra time; we grab it whenever and wherever we can. Just a few minutes a couple of times a day can add up to several extra hours of writing time each week.

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A few short minutes can change everything.

Think about your daily schedule. How many minutes do you spend waiting for something or someone? We wait at the doctor’s office, we wait to pick up our children from school and sporting events, we wait in traffic, we even wait for water to boil. Don’t waste those short blocks of time. Instead, use waiting time as writing time. Keep a notebook or small tape recorder in your car and use those minutes to get down a few paragraphs. Even if you just spend your wait time thinking about your writing, rather than about how terrible traffic is, you’ll be more prepared to write the next time you have a few minutes. You’ll also feel a lot better.

What about your television watching habits? We all have our favorite shows, ones we’d feel deprived if we missed. But what about the shows before or after your favorite? Do you really need to sit and watch them too? Why not write during that time? See how much you can accomplish during the commercial breaks. You may surprise yourself.

A few short minutes can change everything.

In football, in writing, and in life, every big play starts with a decision. A decision to try. To work hard, no matter what happens. To keep trying, even when a 300-pound defenseman—or a less than tactful editor—tackles us to the ground. We get up and try again on the next play.

As many times as it takes.

We just keep plugging away, minute by minute, yard by yard, knowing that someday soon, we’re going to score. Big time.

So no matter how much time you have to write, use it wisely. Don’t waste those extra minutes. They can make a huge difference in your writing career.

Use those extra minutes in your life. Use them to change your life.

Remember, a few short minutes can change everything.

One Response to A Few Short Minutes: Writing Every Day

  1. I remember when my kids were little, I used those wait minutes to catch up on sleep, or just resting. Your advise is sound. Those minutes do add up. By the end of the day, I would get the rest I needed to get through the sleepless nights with the kids. Ha! Ha! Writng in divided minutes will add up also. Keep plugging away, and you might very well score big time in the writng world. Thanks for your enjoyable article. Happy writing to all.

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