Write 15 minutes every day.

FAVORITE WRITING ADVICE:

“Write without editing in your journal for 15 minutes every day. It will change your life.”

WHO SAID IT:

Katherine Black, poet & creative writing professor

WHY:

Writing steam of consciousness ~ whatever comes to mind, zero editing or judgment ~ lets you open up your mind. It lessens fear of the blank page and the worry of measuring up. It eases perfectionism. It allows you to tap into the subconscious where, IMO, all good stories come from. It allows you to make connections on the page that you might not have thought of but your subconscious knew were there. You don’t show this journal work to others; this is strictly for you. That way there’s no pressure; there’s just simply you writing.

HOW IT CHANGED MY WRITING:

Doing this was really a revelatory act for me. Not only did I learn to loosen up and let myself play on the page but also I learned things about myself that I hadn’t known at all: things about my own process, things I believed were true, judgments I was making, the vision I had for my life, and how I needed to learn to trust myself and the story for starters.

The trick, though, is that you must write whatever comes to mind, stream of consciousness, without editing it or judging it at all. At first it was awkward, and sometimes I wrote over and over: I don’t know what to say. But eventually out of that came what I did want to say. It turns out I had a LOT to say and didn’t even realize it. That was a gift of this exercise, too ~ finding my own voice.

Even if it’s unfamiliar and strange to you, stick with it. Like most things, the more you practice at it, the better and easier it gets. If you write whatever comes to you for 15 minutes every day (even if you don’t consider yourself a writer), if you guard that time as if it’s precious (meaning you don’t make excuses and skip it), if you let your subconscious come out and lead you, it truly will change your life.

So do you write without editing for at least 15 minutes every day? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.

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Shelli Johnson

Writer
Shelli Johnson is an award-winning author and journalist. Her debut book, Small as a Mustard Seed, has been heralded as “a superbly-crafted and reader-engaging novel” that will “run you through an emotional marathon at a sprinter’s pace.” Learn more about Shelli here. Keep in touch through her newsletter or subscribe to her blog.

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8 Responses to My Favorite Writing Advice ~ Write 15 Minutes Every Day

  1. SL_Coelho (@SL_Coelho) says:

    Love this advice, another one to print off.
    NaNo has been great for exactly this reason. Thanks for sharing excellent writing tips Shelli. :D

    • Hi Sandy!

      Thanks, always, for the fab compliment. Makes me smile every time. :) I agree that NaNo is great for forcing you to write, write, write without looking back . . . because there isn’t time. Cheers, darlin.

  2. Susan H. McIntyre says:

    Chronic health issues make my writing schedule variable when it comes to a book or blog. But 10-15 minutes every day has led to ideas for poems. Considering that my next book is poetry, this is a way to capture creative ideas without self-editing. I see a topic, an emotion, an ordinary interaction, and then out pops a poem! Meanwhile, I also see a longer trend toward my idea for fiction. This is a very powerful method!

    • Hi Susan! *waves*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your health, but glad that you’ve found a way of writing that works for you. I just love this: “out pops a poem!” I love when writing happens spontaneously like that. :)

  3. For me, editing is an inherent part of my writing process, for better or for worse. I’ll write and write and write, whether it’s one minute or five minutes, but then my impulse is to go back and read what I’ve written. Not to change it — I’m generally not afraid of dark places — but to enhance it. My process is such that I have to feel good about the quality, at least somewhat, of what I’ve written before I move on. So I guess I do a little of what you suggest. But for this editor, the thought of 15 minutes of writing with total abandon might put me over the edge. :)

    • Hi Dina! *waves*

      I’m a big believer in finding whatever works for you & doing that. :) I’ve just found this exercise to be so helpful in letting my subconscious take over, finding connections that I didn’t even realize were there. Well, if you try it and it puts you over the edge, I’ll pull you back up. :D Cheers, darlin.

      • Awww, Shelli! Your reply made my day. :) Hope all is well with you! And I will try it and report back!!

        • Glad I could make your day. Everything is great thanks! Just wish it would snow. :) Stick with it for a little while; it might take a week or two (or more/less) before you start trusting it & seeing results. Let me know how it goes. *hugs*