Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Straight from the Mouth of 'Blood Moon' Alexandra Sokoloff

"Five Minutes of Writing a Day Equals a Book"

I’ve been a professional author for basically all of my adult life. I started in theater, reinvented myself as a screenwriter, then reinvented myself as a
traditionally published author, and now with the publication of my Huntress/FBI series (Huntress Moon, Blood MoonI’ve reinvented myself as a bestselling indie author. 

Every change in my career has been a terrifying leap of faith, but each change has been something I knew I needed to do to sustain my living as a full-time writer.  Each change has also brought new challenges.  The current challenge is how to write books in my new series fast enough to please my readers and keep them hooked on the series. I look at my calendar and wonder how I am possibly going to get the third book finished by my self-imposed fall deadline.

And just as the panic begins to build to something more like hysteria, I remember something I learned a long time ago: it only takes five minutes a day.  Five minutes of writing a day for one year equals a book.

Did you catch that? I’ll say it again. Five minutes of writing a day for a year equals a book.

Which is what I really wanted to write about today, because I don’t think it’s said often enough that you CAN write a novel (or a script, or a TV pilot....) in whatever time you have. Even if that’s only five minutes a day. If you have kids, if you have the day job from hell, if you are clinically depressed – whatever is going on in your life, if you have five minutes a day, as long as you write EVERY DAY, to the best of your ability, you can write a novel that way.

I wrote my first novel, The Harrowing, by writing just five minutes per day.
My day job was screenwriting, at the time, and yes, it was a writing job, but it had turned into the day job from hell. But fury is a wonderful motivator and at the end of the day, every day, I was so pissed off at the producers I was working for that I would make myself write five minutes a day on the novel EVERY NIGHT, just out of spite.

Okay, the trick to this is – that if you write five minutes a day, you will write more than five minutes a day, sometimes a whole hell of a lot more than five minutes a day most days. But it’s the first five minutes that are the hardest. And that often ended up happening. Sometimes I was so tired that all I could manage was a sentence, but I would sit down at my desk and write that one sentence. But some days I’d tell myself all I needed to write was a sentence, and I’d end up writing three pages.

It’s just like the first five minutes of exercise, something I learned a long time ago. As long as I can drag myself to dance class and endure that first five minutes of the workout, and I give myself permission to leave after five minutes if I want to, I will generally take the whole hour and a half class, and usually end up loving it. (There are these wonderful things called endorphins, you see, and they kick in after a certain amount of exposure to pain...)

The trick to writing, and exercise, is – it is STARTING that is hard.

I have been writing professionally for . . . well, never mind how many years. But even after all those many years—every single day, I have to trick myself into writing. I will do anything – scrub toilets, clean the cat box, do my taxes, do my mother’s taxes – rather than sit down to write. It’s absurd. I mean, what’s so hard about writing, besides everything?

But I know this just like I know it about exercise. If you can just start, and commit to just that five minutes, those five minutes will turn into ten, and those ten minutes will turn into pages, and one page a day for a year is a book.
Think about it.

Or better yet, go write for five minutes, right now. 


Need more writing tips?  Alex is the internationally acclaimed workshop leader of Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, based on her writing workbooks and blog:

Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II:

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