14 Sep

Inching Toward Your Writing Goals With 15 Minutes a Day by Shawndra Russell

ShawndraRussellBioPicInching Toward Your Goals: For ANY writer writing ANYTHING!
Guest post by Shawndra Russell

****Giveaway Alert! At the bottom of this wonderfully inspiring post about an easy way to increase your word count each day, Shawndra is giving away one e-copy of How To Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days. Margo has had a chance to read the book, and it has some great tips for people who want to break into freelance writing!

Many of you that follow The Literary Ladies blog have your own publishing dreams, and I’d like to share the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my experience publishing my women’s fiction title, Couple Friends, and my recent release, How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days.

Inch toward your goals daily.
We all lead busy lives and our writing time often gets shoved off the to-do list when things get hectic. Yet, carving out time every single day—even if only for 15 minutes—will get you down the path toward your publishing goals whether you hope to publish a novel, get an article published in Oprah’s magazine, or write your first how-to e-guide.

Here’s the math:
15 minutes can equal 500 words (if you let the words flow and silence that inner critic!)
500 words X 365 days per year = 182,500 words
Recommended range for novels is 70,000-100,000

So in just 15 minutes per day, you could write enough for one novel in a year. In the case of my how-to guide of about 20,000 words, this daily practice would equate to about 8 e-guides.

What if we doubled that production to 30 minutes per day (or two 15-minute sessions)? That could equal enough words for two novels or 16 e-guides! And what if we mixed in some higher production days? Adds up to some impressive numbers, right?

Couple Friends cover screenshotThe Power of NaNoWriMo
I first learned the power of this commitment during my first NaNoWriMo in 2011, which resulted in the first draft of Couple Friends. Signing up to partake in their challenge to finish writing an entire book in 30 days makes you realize that you CAN stick to daily writing goals because it’s up to you to make it a priority.

Now, keeping up with that pace of about 1,700 words/day during NaNoWriMo for the entire year would be brutal and could be creatively stunting. Yet, ingraining a daily writing habit into your life will get you one step closer to your goals every single day, which is all any of us can really ask for anyway.

Daily Writing Makes Finishing Less Daunting
Since that first stab at NaNoWriMo, I started a digital marketing and writing business that has been thriving over the past six months. Translation: even LESS time for my writing. So, some of my projects fell by the wayside until some missed marketing opportunities forced me to finally complete How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days.

Unfortunately, I had taken a couple of months off my daily writing habit—and with the e-guide only needing a few hours of polishing before I could publish it. Each day I didn’t work on it, the project loomed larger and larger instead of just being a natural (and much less scary!) part of my daily routine. This experience definitely reinforced the importance of sticking to a daily writing habit as an effective way to inch toward my goals.

Wow! I’ve written how much?!
You will surprise yourself with how much you’re able to accomplish when you stay committed to a daily plan—plus you’ll avoid feeling the discouragement I experienced when I fell off the writing wagon! Just as NaNoWriMo motivates participants to write every day, my e-guide encourages those that are serious about building a writing career, or reaching their publishing goals, to take it one day at a time. How many words can you write before the calendar flips to 2014? How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days

Do you have a timed or word count daily goal? Share with us in the comments! If you are interested in winning the freelancing book, make sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form, too. Otherwise, just leave us a comment about your latest project!

BIO: Shawndra is a digital strategist that helps small businesses tackle their social media and the Savannah correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. Read about her services and work at http://www.shawndrarussell.com.

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  • Shawndra, your math section above has inspired me beyond belief! It’s so simple when you think about it! I am also planning to do NaNoWriMo this year! Thank you for this wonderful post!

    • That’s great to hear! Good luck with NaNoWriMo. My best advice is to create a solid outline in October so that when November hits you can just focus on hitting that daily word count goal. Can’t wait to hear about your experience!

  • In 1998 I started trying to write freelance articles and some fiction. I was a full-time wife and mother, had a full-time corp career, a 1+hour a day round trip commute, I taught Awanas at church, had several elderly relatives I ‘checked on’ each week. After about a year of only getting about 10 hours of writing done a week, I sat down and wrote out where my time went. With all my responsibilities, I found I ONLY HAD 10 hours of extra time each week. Knowing that empowered me, because I realized that on my own I was working as efficiently as I could. I quit my corp job in May 1999, and have been freelancing full time ever since. And in those 18 months of only having 10 hours a week to write, I sold 124 articles. I only wrote one free article in those months, and it was for a cause near and dear to my heart. It’s hard sometimes, but the payoffs are tremendous. When I quit, I knew I could meet every deadline–and the editors I’d already worked with knew it too. Every 15 minute helps. Every one more page helps. And spending a few minutes to pre-think things, so you have a game plan before starting to write that day–even if you don’t get to write until hours later–really helps too, because even when you’re busy doing something else your brain keeps thinking and fine-tuning those ideas you came up with earlier.

    • Hi Joanie: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. You are so right–I can’t believe how much you produced with 10 hours a week. It just shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way!

    • Joanie, congrats on all your success! Your dedication is inspiring and impressive. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is an inspiring post and wonderful reminder that little efforts during the day can have big payoffs. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Julie, thanks for stopping by. :) It really is inspiring, isn’t it? :)

    • Hi Julie, my pleasure and thanks for your comments!

  • Thanks for doing the math on this for me. It really puts it into perspective what you can accomplish if you really want to in just a short amount of time everyday.

    • Hi Ann, you’re welcome! Good luck on reaching your writing goals and thanks for your comments.

  • What a useful book! People say there isn’t enough time in the day but really….

    • You have to know how to use it correctly! :)

    • It’s so true how much you can get done if you really just work a little every day toward whatever goal you’re trying to achieve. It works!

  • So true. I wrote my first novel in a year by dedicating 15 minutes a day to it. Those 15 minutes had to be super productive, so if I thought of something, I’d jot a note on a post-it or in one of my writer notebooks (I have them in the kitchen, bedroom, and in my car), then I knew what I wanted to write about in the allotted time. Thanks for the validation that someone else thinks of writing as a process broken down into tiny chunks of time.

    • I know, Spirit Lady, you are a true inspiration for this process!

    • Absolutely! We think we need these grand chunks of time but that’s just not the reality for so many of us. We’ve got to steal little moments away every day to chase those publishing dreams!

  • Thanks Shawndra, Finally made the decision to get back into the writing game after a number of years off. Been sitting with business cards for 6 months that identify myself as a writer/photoist as I am no journalist. I wrote a novel sitting at a brewpub after work, and I am in the process of learning to do a website that will pair craft beer with trails. (produced a smile when you had helped Anna over many craft beers with her freelancing) Having been in the tourism industry, and traveled the West, I seek out brewpubs where I find the most passionate people talking about their favorite outdoor activities, mine being trail running. Landed my first gig last week, pairing local cheeses with two local breweries in Colorado. Even arranging a tasting party! You are correct though, good writing comes in small increments of time – even 30 seconds. Best line of my summer was – we meet our friends by accident, we get to keep them on purpose. Look forward to buying your book on freelancing. dg

  • It was a very interesting article and I know, heard, read that you must write every day. Once I start I get into it. It is the beginning that gets me. I just have to be more disciplined on myself. Thank you for the opportunity to write a little something. Glenn

  • Oh one more thing sorry I missed the contest :(

So, what do you think?