Good Writing Advice: 15 min/day

Today’s gem of writing advice comes from an interview with literary agent Laurie McLean of Agent Savant. The interview is given by Matt Garland of Winning Edits.

Garland asks what advice McLean would give to writers who are “stalled” (stressing, stuck, procrastinating, etc.) in their author’s journey. McLean responds,

“Write every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.”

If you think of writing like speaking a foreign language or playing an instrument, you begin to understand the importance of this: if you don’t keep the skills fresh, they rust. What does any teacher tell you when you’re learning something new? Practice, practice, practice! Repetition is crucial to staying in top form.

On a similar note, McLean adds that it’s important to read in the genres you write. She does not emphasize “daily” here, but if you remember that last bit of advice about having a solid writing-to-reading ratio, you might consider making a commitment to reading each day also– even if it is sliver of time, like the minimum quarter hour McLean suggests for writing.

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5 thoughts on “Good Writing Advice: 15 min/day

  1. Definitely agree with the writing for at least fifteen minutes a day rule – but I say ‘at least’ because I believe more that it´s sort of fifteen, and best a bit more, rather than the stopwatch approach to writing.

    For many years I kept a diary, which I wrote between 400/600 words a day in. Most of it was drivel. Nevertheless, it´s a bit like panhandling, for endless days your pan is going to be filled with dirt, then one day you see a speck of gold.

    A couple of paragaphs from one diary had The Daily Telegraph sending me to Armenia on my first assignment for a big national newspaper. The article didn´t get published, but I soon found myself published in papers like The Independent. What happened since then I don´t know, but I keep on panhandling.

    • I love the panning for gold analogy, Bryan. SO true. Reminds me of a book I read on concepting (for advertisements): the author said that any time you sit down to brainstorm an idea, you should jot at least ten ideas on paper. Statistically, chances are that one or more will be significantly better than the rest! Repetition is another way of getting more on the page.

      That’s wonderful about the paragraphs that jumped from diary to journalism! Well done, and perfect example.

  2. This is great advice. Fifteen minutes may it seem like a lot of time, but I’m always surprised by how much writing I an get done if I set aside a few minutes in the morning or even on my lunch break.

    • Absolutely. It all adds up! I encountered something Cory Doctorow said long ago that has stuck with me, and prodded me every time I’ve tried to tell myself I didn’t have time/place to write (here I paraphrase): All a writer really needs is ten minutes and writing implement.

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