What can you do in 15 minutes a day?

For some people, the idea of writing for 15 minutes seems unimaginable. It’s such a long time!

For other people, 15 minutes seems like barely enough time to accomplish anything.

Regular readers know that I made a commitment 233 days ago to write for 15 minutes a day, every day. Many days, I go longer than that—usually writing until I finish a blog post. That’s 45 minutes, maybe an hour or more, depending on how long I go.

But today I thought I’d give you a demonstration of what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes of writing. The Gods of SEO won’t like it if we end up at less than 300 words, but the Gods of SEO can take a break for one day.

So before I started writing this, I set my timer for 15 minutes. Aaaand…we’re already 5 minutes in.

15 minutes — an arbitrary goal

Some writers, like my virtual colleague Beth Dunn, prefer to structure the daily goal in terms of word count. And she has a point. If you’re the kind of person who will stare at your blank computer screen until the elusive Muse forces your fingers to start hitting the keys, then you probably want to commit to a word count.

I rarely find myself at a loss for words, but I often feel time moves at a turtle’s pace, especially when I’m not fired up by the subject. So I like the discipline of making sure I write for at least 15 minutes.

Before my time runs out, I want to remind you that I’m hosting a challenge for those of you who’d like to try out a daily writing practice. Jumpstart 2017: The 5×15 Writing Challenge is—remarkably—just what it says. A challenge to write for five days in a row, 15 minutes a day in the week leading up to the new year (December 26th-30th, to be precise).

Why wait until January 1st to do something productive for yourself? Complete the challenge and you start the new year with a win—and I think pretty much all of us could use a win right about now. And when you complete the challenge, I’ll donate your $15 registration fee to a wonderful nonprofit that supports girls’ literacy around the world. (If you don’t complete the challenge, I keep the money. But, really, I’d much rather fund some literacy programs.

To get more information or register for the Challenge, click on over here.

Fifteen minutes of your time for five days and you’ll not only do something transformative for yourself, you’ll help Room to Read transform the lives of girls around the world. A win-win.

[And that’s a wrap.]

Want to write better? Write more.

Do you want to write better?

While I hope this blog gives you some tips and ideas to improve your writing, it’s only a partial solution.

to write better, write more often
I keep track using the Streaks iPhone app

Nope, to really write better you have to write—not necessarily better, but definitely more often.

I’ve been writing for at least 15 minutes every day for nearly eight months (it’ll be 231 days after I finish writing this). And even though I’ve already won awards for my writing, I honestly believe I’m writing better now than ever before.

To write better, aim for completion not perfection

Is everything I write spectacular? I can answer that with a confident and resounding No. But the good stuff has been getting better—and maybe the bad stuff less bad, but that’s not really the point. The point is the discipline of sitting down at my computer (most days it’s the computer) with my fingers poised over the keys. I set my alarm for 15 minutes and it’s off to the races.

I’ll have plenty of time later to contemplate the merits of what I write. You should never edit as you go, anyway. So the discipline is just about getting the words out of my head and into some storage medium, whether analog or digital.

A new discipline for the new year

If you’re serious about improving your writing skills, don’t let this goal end up as just another unfulfilled New Year’s Resolution. Get a jumpstart on it in the last week of the year and roll into 2017 on a winning streak.

write better - this challenge will help
The Challenge is simple: Write for 15 minutes a day for five days in a row. You don’t have to write well—as I said, no one writes well all the time. Just write.

To give you some incentive to commit to the challenge, registration will cost you $15. But when you complete the challenge, I’ll donate $15 in your name to Room to Read, a fantastic nonprofit that supports education and literacy for girls around the world.

Want more information? Click here.

Ready to register? Click here. (Yes, it’s the same link.)

Tell your friends. Support each other as you develop great writing habits. And let’s make 2017 a year of transformation for all of us.