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Writing 5 Minutes A Day

writing 5 minutes a dayI work with two women who I call my accountability partners. We generally meet once a week to talk about our businesses, get feedback and generally support each other. We’ve been meeting over coffee on Friday afternoons for several years now and continue to do so because it works for us.

One of the gals is an interior designer and the other safety engineer. It’s amazing how well we can understand each other’s problems and solutions and celebrations even though our businesses are wildly different.

A couple of weeks ago I was complaining that I didn’t have enough time to get the projects closest to my heart done. They both pushed back and I didn’t like it a bit.

The safety engineer said something like,”Anne, why don’t you write the family story five minutes at a time?”

The designer immediately piggybacked with “You could get that blog it done the same way.”

I was furious and told them both so. I also recognized that I was way overreacting. After all they were making a suggestion – that’s all. And I was the one who to ask for help.

So I agreed

Admitting that I was overreacting, and that I wasn’t going to get over my snit right that moment, I grudgingly agreed to try five minutes a day on each project for one workweek. Fortunately they both love me and were willing to just let me fume.

I spent much of that weekend muttering to myself giving all the reasons I shouldn’t have to try doing something highly creative and dear to my heart at a mere five minutes a day. After all I have had the luxury of working full-time on a book until it was done. It was great.

Writing 5 minutes a day

That Monday morning before I did anything else at the computer I started Toggl,the free and great timekeeping program I use  and opened the file on the family story. That first five minutes was mostly spent reentering the project.

It had been several months since I looked at it. I read the table of contents and went to the end of what I had written and read that section. The first thing I realized was I needed to check one of the facts I was using. I knew I didn’t have time to do it decent job of that in 5 minutes, now down to something like a minute and a half. After a moment’s thought I simply highlighted the questionable detail and yellow knowing that would signal me to come back later and make sure what I was saying was true or right.

I was actually rather tickled I’d quickly come up with a solution. Marking triple x – like this: xxx

That’s my way of letting me know where I am in a long manuscript. I can do a quick search on ‘xxx’ and be right where I want to be. I hit save and stop the clock. I’d actually run just over six minutes.

I moved to the blog. Some of you may vaguely remember that I have a blog called WhenGrandmotherSpeaks.com. I love what I’m trying to do there and I never seem to get it done.

Unlike the family story, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to write about. Since writing five minutes a day was what I was doing I decided to write about that. I’m into this writing 5 minutes a day now for the second week and I thought I’d actually publish the blog post today (which is quite different than this one). I got snarled in a technical issue and decided to postpone the issue until tomorrow where I think I can solve it in about five minutes if I can I’ll proofread and probably hit the publish button.

What I’m learning

The very first thing I learned with this exercise really surprised me. Part of the reason I was chafing so much at the restriction of five minutes day was because I know in my soul both of these projects deserve more time than that. I began to see just how important they are to me and in truth I don’t have much more than five minutes a day to devote to them – at least not now. I recognized I had been hiding their importance for myself simply because of my time restraints.

The next thing I learned was that I can get more done in five minutes than I ever imagined. I know I write well and easily much of the time. After all I’ve been doing it for more years than I care to admit. But five minutes is not very long. unless you’re waiting for water to boil or a new romantic interest to call.

I don’t know how this will end. I am considering taking some steps that will free up some time for me. And much as I hate to admit it only six days into this process I’m looking forward each morning to five minutes on each project. My friends and advisers were right.

Have you ever tried writing only five minutes a day? I’d like to hear about it if you have or any recent action you have to this post. You can tell us about it in comments.

Write well and often,





{ 7 comments… add one }
  • jorgekafkazar

    I’ve done something similar, fiddling with a play m/s for a few minutes every week. When a theatre group announced a 10-minute xmas play contest, I found I already had 9 pages, enough to finish before the short deadline.

    • How nice… that means I’m keeping great company… good to hear from you, Jorge.

  • It is true to write something about anything can really change your thought and change in you.
    I also do and write something in a day for in my dairy.

  • I’ve done this with drawing, painting, and writing and the time creep actually has turned out to be one of the benefits, because really, most of us really have more time than we believe we do . . . and 10 minutes a day turns out to be about 5 hours a month . . . and that adds up to some significant progress, even if your schedule never allows for more. And once we turn our attention to a project, or gaining a new skill, it comes into focus and we find ways to carve out more time for it. It’s worked well for me and for a lot of my clients — sometimes I think it is as much about overcoming resistance (even wanting ideal working conditions can be a sort of resistance) as it is about finding time.
    Paula recently posted..Creative Space / Creative’s PaceMy Profile

    • Well said, Paula… and you’re right, the time creep can be a good thing although I hadn’t thought of it. I’m getting intrigued with how much I can actually get done in 5.

  • Tina

    I haven’t done it with writing, but I have done it with drawing. My drawing skills improved dramatically over the course of a year. My biggest problem is that once I start drawing, I don’t want to stop. So five minutes becomes 15 minutes. Congratulations, Anne. Looking forward to what you’ve written in five minutes!

    • Yes, Tina, I find time slippage when working on these projects too. Thanks.

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