15-Minute Method and Mindset
for Establishing or Maintaining
Your Writing Practice
By A.Y. Berthiaume
I’m a mom who works full-time and a writer. Unfortunately, writing always comes third. Not because I want it to, but because it must. Additionally, over the last six months, I started my own business and so on top of the already 2 full-time jobs, I added a third. Which left writing, of course, fourth. While working two jobs is temporary, it hasn’t allowed the same opportunity for writing as before.
When it was just mom life, work life, and writer life, I could still find decent chunks of time to write either on lunch breaks; after my son was in bed; or (especially) on nights and weekends he wasn’t with me. Sometimes I could even get a couple of hours in. I became pretty darn proud of my regular writing practice. I was keeping track of my word count on a weekly basis to hold myself accountable. I was uploading a new post to my blog every Monday. And I was contributing to two other blogs on a regular volunteer basis. None of these have been realistic maintain with my triple-duty schedule the last handful of months.
Yet, I couldn’t just let go of my writing practice. It took me years to get to the point where I was finally writing regularly and taking myself seriously as a writer. I worried that if I just stopped fitting it in because I was too busy or too tired (both true, however) then once I shed one of the jobs, I wouldn’t actually start back up. Heaven knows I already gave up on trying to find time for working out. So how was I to keep up my writing practice against these issues of time and energy?
I call it the 15-minute method and mindset.
Instead of trying to hold myself to unrealistic standards and expectations that I continue to produce and perform the same level of writing I was before I had the second job, I shifted my mindset. It no longer was about specific word counts, self-imposed deadlines or expectations.
Instead, the only thing I aimed for was to write each day for a little bit. It hasn’t worked out that I’ve written 7/7 days. It’s been more like 3 or 4. But even when I was diligently going after 3,000 words a week, I was probably doing this in 3-4 sittings versus writing every day. So that was the only goal. Write a little each day with the hope to get 3-4 days out of the week.
With my mindset shifted to ‘just write a little’ as the only goal, it was a much easier goal to attain. Stripping away a concerted amount of words meant I was no longer trying to find a certain length of time to write, knowing it would take me on average ‘x’ amount of minutes to write ‘x’ amount of words. No, instead, I started to look for a few minutes strung together to get a paragraph or two. Organically I found my way into 15-minute sprints. Choose a topic, story, quote, prompt, piece of inspiration and just go. You can get a nice chunk written in just 15 minutes if you’re not censoring yourself.
Back to Mindset:
So here are the other things you have to train your brain to not do in that 15-minutes:
• Revise as you go
• Perfect each line or word
• Attempt to finish the thing you just started
• Determine what it will be used for (post, chapter, a new novel, etc.)
• Expect to go back and finish it tomorrow
You have to let the 15-minutes just be 15-minutes that you showed up for yourself as a writer to writer. That you put some words down. That you didn’t give up or make excuses. And sometimes you’ll honestly feel better about those 15-minutes than the 2 hours you just spent staring at the blank screen too scared to start to begin with because you wanted to get it just right.
Fifteen minutes a day. That’s all you really need to get started in developing a writing practice OR in keeping the one you started but have to curb a little while life throws you curve balls.
Try it. You’ll be surprised. As surprised as I am about the fact that I wrote the first draft of this blog post in just fifteen minutes to tell you all how powerful it can be to spend just that amount of time writing something.
Writing something is better than not writing anything. So, find your 15-minutes. Flip your mindset. You got this.
A. Y. Berthiaume is a native Vermonter, aspiring writer, practicing feminist, recovering middle child, hobby junkie, wannabe superhero, and a mom who’s pretty sure she’s just “winging it” most of the time, but hoping she makes it look good. Though she loves the ‘f’ word for its versatility, you won’t find it in any of her LVW posts (because those are the rules). You can find some of her other writing on the Burlington VT Mom’s Blog (you won’t find the ‘f’ word there either). Berthiaume holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Northeast Ohio Masters of Fine Arts Program. Writing for League Lines Live provides the chance to offer other members of the writing tribe honest (and hopefully humorous) accounts of the trials and tribulations of aspiring to be a writer even when everyone else already thinks you’ve made it. Having only recently discovered her writing voice and made the decision to write under her own name, Berthiaume offers the following advice to her fellow word-wielding friends: Be brave. Be You. It’s time. Visit her at www.ayberthiaume.com.
Headshot credit @luannbaileyphotography
Clock by Tristan Gassert, Schedule & Coffee by Estee Janssens, and "Hustle" Phone by Fernando Hernandez, all on Unsplash.com