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Writing Habits: The 90 minute Sessions -- by Andrew Mcqueen

Since I jumped aboard the #writingchallenge group in June, I've developed some writing habits that have become helpful while jumping back on the saddle.

I know some people can't spare the time due to not "having the time" to sit down and write because of various reasons like day job demands or wishing they have time to write.

How do I handle such diversions outside the craft? Take at least an hour & thirty minutes (90 minutes) a day to write. Did I hear somebody in the third row say "90 minutes? But I can't spare that kind of time to write my paranormal romance novel in a month with just 90 minutes a day." Yes you can.

If there's anything I learned from my writing challenge compatriots is that it's not about the numbers, it about the daily commitment. During my writing sessions I carved out a word count of 2k and the results are amazing.

When writing for just 90 minutes, you're developing good writing habits on days you just want to lay off and binge through Netflix, or in my case, a comic book collection.

Now for what the experience has taught me, it's the following essentials every writer needs:

  1. Commitment. That's what the challenge is about. You're not only putting down the words per page, you're building a sense of commitment to your project as you take an hour & thirty minutes of your time to write.
  2. Accountability. Like any writer, I try to set a personal goal to hit high word count. But at times when I don't, I take a look at my shortcoming(s) and take it as a lesson for when I get back to the next session.
  3. Have Fun with It. Yes. That's what I do when doing my writing sessions: have fun. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but the basic essential here is to enjoy every minute of telling the story you want to tell, friend.

Now before you say you'd love to take 90 minutes to write that novel or what-have-you, but can't spare the time, make the time. See what the results come from it. Let your writing discipline build as well your word count.

Happy Creations!

(Previously posted in Dreaming in my own Words. November 9, 2015)

Posted by Andrew Mcqueen 2 May 2016 at 01:15
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Responses to this blog

Jberkowitz 4 May 2016 at 12:48  
While I agree discipline is a vital component to novel-writing success, it doesn't always work for everybody to force writing. Everybody has their own technique. For me, I need to mull things over before I can make any headway on the page. I need to think through the scene, list what I want to accomplish, how each of the characters are going to react to the situation, how the scene itself is going to dovetail with the story arc and with what happens next. If I sit down to write before I have done this, I end up just staring at the blank page and feeling inadequate.

Also, no, not everyone CAN blithely carve an hour and a half out of their day to do nothing else. I have a family and 2 jobs. When I get home my youngest wants my attention until dinner (unless I am helping with dinner). Then I do the dishes, and in the 2 hours I have left before bed time, I either spend it with my children or with my wife, and I am never going to shut them out during this brief social time we get together to sit in my room alone and work on my personal stuff. I do try to write most days — often I don't. But when I do, it is always after everyone else has gone to sleep. And sometimes I can only get in half an hour. Sometimes more. But I do have to sleep some time.

Nevertheless, a lot of what you say is true, and I can tell you that even with this less ambitious regimen, I managed to write a whole novel in just over a year. And I'm working on my second. As well as a blog. So, yes, absolutely find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. But if you can't manage 90 minutes a day, don't sell yourself short. Maybe your lifestyle only allows for 2 hours a week. Fine, but make those two hours quality time, and don't skip any weeks. Consistency is the key, and setting yourself up to fail by committing to time you can't manage over time is only going to hurt your progress and confidence.
Imjustdru 4 May 2016 at 15:17  
I can dig that, my man.

Some of my Writing Challenge compadres carve out 500 words a day and are making headway with their projects. Most of them can throw it down in 30 minutes, if you ask me, I find that impressive. I can do almost 500 a day but sometimes I wanna push the envelope.
Chenson087 18 May 2016 at 08:03  
I agree. Commitment is key. If writing is a priority, then the writer will find time for it (whatever that carved out allotment of time is for them).
Bramako 19 May 2016 at 06:01  
For me, I sat down on bed every night 10pm with a laptop on my lap and thought "I'll try to write for 2 hours today". I usually put up a playlist containing songs that I had listed to a lot so that I would be able to drone out all other sounds (the music also helps with the sometimes eerie silence) and focus on the story.
Sometimes I wasn't able to write much and would end up shutting down and going to sleep in an hour but sometime I would write on till 3 am and wonder where the time went.

For my novel I had the basic outline of the story in my head together with several key points that I wanted to reach, besides that, I let the characters live their own life, trying to force them as little as possible.
Ltk1986200 19 May 2016 at 06:15  
I'm similar to Bramako in that there are days (sometimes several in a row) when I can't seem to make anything flow, and then there are days (usually late nights) where I can't stop writing, even though I have work the next morning early. I don't have a specific word count or a time constraint. I don't shut myself off when I get into a writing groove, even if I know what I'm writing is probably nonsense. The important thing is to engage my brain and try my best. *Shrugs.* Everyone is different. That's what makes life interesting.
Imjustdru 19 May 2016 at 07:00  
I feel ya'll on various methods. I really do.

My sista Kristy Acevedo blogged about how writing 500 words a day might work for some people. It's interesting.

Jmtver 19 Jun 2016 at 05:05  
Being able to commit time is already a significant step to finishing a novel and seeing it through publication. Thanks for the advice!

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