30 Minutes, 30 Days: This Practice Can Help You Become a Better Writer

30 Minutes, 30 Days: This Practice Can Help You Become a Better Writer

I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of waiting for my muse.

I’ve waited while drinking a third cup of coffee. I’ve waited while listening to mood music. I’ve waited while reading someone’s else’s work. I’ve waited while killing time on the internet.

But, quite often, my muse lets me down. She must have a very exciting personal life because she rarely visits. In fact, I can count the number of times in my life I’ve been inspired to write on one hand.

In September, I took matters into my own hands and set an ambitious goal.

I wrote every single morning for 30 minutes.

No days off, no excuses, no matter what.

And guess what? I did it.

I wrote when I wasn’t feeling well. I wrote after four hours of sleep. I wrote when I should have been vacuuming, doing laundry or cooking. I wrote when I had projects due. I wrote standing at my kitchen counter. I wrote in my office. I wrote with my daughter sitting on my lap.

At first, I told myself I wouldn’t be able to do it.

After all, I take care of a toddler all day. My first responsibility is being a mother. My second is running a small business.

I didn’t have time to add an extra 30 minutes of personal writing into the mix.

But here’s the thing: I did have time.

It was time I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram or Facebook, watched random YouTube videos, read Medium articles or checked headlines on Huffington Post.

I had that time, and I bet you do too.

Here’s what I learned: I don’t need my muse. She can visit if she wants, but her presence is not necessary for me to create.

In 30 days, I:

  • Published nine new posts on my blog, Freelancing Mama and drafted another 21 posts.
  • Planned out my content until March 2017.
  • Completed 30+ pages of an ebook on becoming a virtual assistant.
  • Decreased the amount of time it takes me to write a post
  • Gained more confidence in my abilities.
  • Discovered my well of ideas would not dry up if I dipped my bucket in every day.

I finally felt confident enough to call myself a writer; I am a writer.

Here’s how I made it happen.

Each morning, I sat down and turned on a timer. I’d spend 30 (mostly uninterrupted) minutes writing. I didn’t check my email, Facebook or any websites.

I used Toggl to track my time and Brain.fm to keep me focused and drown out the sounds of toddler morning TV. If I needed to take care of something, I paused the timer, did the task as quickly as possible and went right back to writing. On the weekends, I was able to hole up in my office while my husband took care of our daughter.

I realized I don’t need perfect conditions to write. I could stand in the middle of the tornado that is my kitchen and write as if I was at Walden Pond. As long as my mind was peaceful, it didn’t matter what my surroundings were like.

Want to create a daily writing habit? Set yourself up for success with these tips.

1. Get an accountability buddy

When it comes to meeting your goals, having someone hold you accountable can make all the difference. You don’t want to disappoint someone who believes in you.

I’m a member of an awesome Slack group called #JustWrite. My writing streak started with a week-long challenge from Sara Frandina that I liked so much, I didn’t stop. Every day, I let other members of the Slack group know I completed another day of writing.  Knowing the group was waiting for my daily check-in kept me accountable and gave me encouragement to keep going.

2. Choose to make writing a priority

As soon as I decided to pursue this journey, I knew it wouldn’t work unless I made it a priority.

I couldn’t let my to-do list dictate my morning. I was going to write whether I had one or 100 projects due that day.  In the grand scheme of it, thirty minutes was not going to make or break my business, but it could make or break my writing process.

3. Sit down and write.

At some point, we just have to do it. We can’t wait for perfect conditions, or the mood to strike, or the planets to align.

One my favorite quotes about writing comes from Anne Tyler; she says “If I waited until I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.”

What’s next?

Not only did writing every day produce tangible results, but it improved my life in other ways.

I was more motivated to meet goals that had nothing to do with writing like cooking homemade meals and going on a walk in the evenings.

Completing these 30 days also gave me a huge boost of confidence. In fact, it inspired me to submit my first guest post – the one you just read!

So, what’s next? I’m going to keep going. I plan to write every day for the rest of the year.

Then write every day of 2017.

Will you join me?

Filed Under: Blogging, Craft
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111 comments

  • Great article! And what you said is so true. If I only wrote when inspiration struck, I’d have to carry a pen and paper into the shower with me! As a freelance copywriter, I have deadlines to meet. So I have to write — even when I don’t feel inspired. Usually, getting words down on paper — any words — helps get the creative juices flowing. You can always go back and edit. Just write, write, write!

  • Nancy says:

    This summer my husband were nannies for our two grandkids (loved it) and an already busy summer was squeezed even more. What I discovered, however, is that I can write in snatches, not just stretches. I was able to stick to my two posts a week on my blog, as well as meet my goal of writing 6 chapters for my spiritual memoir. I’m having trouble this fall, however, and needed this reminder of how productive I can be writing in snatches of time.

  • Lisa Evola says:

    I’ve actually joined the write 31 days group for the month of October and nanowrimo for November. Both provide accountability and inspiration needed to get back onto a regular writing track. Hoping that two months of it will carry me through till spring when my garden start to sing it’s siren song 🙂 that for inspiring us!

    • Erin Sturm says:

      That’s awesome, Lisa! I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago. I still have a novel waiting to be edited. 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting!

      • Tommy Reynolds says:

        Erin,

        Thanks for the muse! I just started a new job that requires an hour and a half drive, VA an hour bus ride. That will no longer be my excuse to not write. Great idea!

        Best of luck with the book. Are you still liking for and editor? What is the Bon about?

        • Tommy Reynolds says:

          Erin,

          Thanks for the muse! I just started a new job that requires an hour and a half drive, vs an hour bus ride. That will no longer be my excuse to not write. Great idea!

          Best of luck with the book. Are you still looking for an editor? What is the book about?

  • Brigitte Little says:

    Erin,

    I need this article. I’m a newbie freelancer who is going to school nights while working full-time days. I’m also a single mother. I keep telling myself I’ll get up at 5:30 every morning, but most mornings I just hit the snooze button. I really like what you said about having someone hold you accountable. I’m going to look into joining a writer’s group in my area. You’ve inspired me – my new goal for this week is to get up in the morning and write. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks again and all the best.

  • JOHN MGBE says:

    Please am hungry to get my first writing job.How do I find one.

  • Hailey says:

    This is excellent! I certainly needed to read it–despite my best intentions, I don’t write every day. Thanks for the inspiration and the reminder.

  • Tasha says:

    Great article! Definitely seals the deal on my decision to write daily. I have been telling myself that I don’t have time…however, YES I DO.

    We all have 30 minutes somewhere in our day. I am committing to find and USE mine. Thanks for the motivation!

  • Jessie Kwak says:

    Thanks, Erin – what a great reminder. I’ve been meaning to implement something like this in my own life, but “meaning to” never got anything done, did it? I’ll tackle my first 30 minutes tomorrow. 🙂

  • Nada Sokrat says:

    WOW, I got inspired by your words 🙂
    Thank You

  • Nancy says:

    Hi Erin
    Great post! I’ve been doing the same routine for years and teach it in my writing workshops. (I call it my 30 in 30 technique)
    It works! Anyone can find 30 minutes!
    Nancy

    • Erin Sturm says:

      Thank you, Nancy. That’s fantastic that you’re teaching this method to others! It definitely works and it’s amazing what you can get done in 30 focused minutest.

  • I think a lot of us can relate to this post. No matter our places in life, we are all busy. I, for example have three kids under the age of five and an hour long commute to work. So every second I’m home seems to be spent cleaning. But 30 minutes of uninterrupted time every day with no exceptions (and no facebook or whatever) is so possible.

    I’m printing off this quote and hanging it on the fridge:

    “I wrote when I wasn’t feeling well. I wrote after four hours of sleep. I wrote when I should have been vacuuming, doing laundry or cooking. I wrote when I had projects due. I wrote standing at my kitchen counter. I wrote in my office. I wrote with my daughter sitting on my lap.”

    Thanks for the inspirational post 🙂

    • Erin Sturm says:

      Thank you, Jason! You certainly have a lot on your plate, but that’s great that you think the 30 minutes per day is possible.

      I’m so honored that you would print out my words to use as inspiration! Thank you! 🙂

  • preeti says:

    Hi Erin,
    i am mother of a toddler.as i hv to take care of her full time…so freelance writing is an opportunity for me.i eagerly want to start writing.as i don’t know my writing skills.but i have an interest in it.so i love to practice it.and as said practice makes a person perfect.i will start it.

  • Serkan Secer says:

    Really impressed. Although I do not have time, definitely worth trying. Thank you…

  • Stacey says:

    But what do you write about! I want to write. Just seems like I don’t have anything to say that anyone would want to read.

    • Erin Sturm says:

      Hi Stacey! I’m writing about freelancing and motherhood because those are the two biggest topics in my life right now. In the past, I’ve written poetry and fiction. Write about what you know and what interests you.

  • Erin,

    Your 30 minutes reminds me of the post I just wrote about my hour of power. http://www.writern.net/write-rn-blog/ill-show-you-what-you-can-do-with-one-hour-of-power

    It’s so true how much you can get done! Great job!

  • Devika says:

    It was wonderful reading this. I have been procrastinating, without any valid excuse. I needed this nudge to get me into this 30 min or perhaps 1 hour routine. Thanks

  • Dunia says:

    Loved your article- I read it yesterday and I already wrote twice. I feel determined , thank you so much for the inspirattion

  • Liz Froment says:

    Great tips. I’ve just started a dedicated daily writing practice myself for this month. I’m going for 500 words to start, which takes me anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes depending on my motivation level. I’ve been able to get stuff down and come up with some great blog ideas. So far so good!

  • I tend to get lazy after finishing a manuscript and want to try this 30 minutes in 30 days to see if it can kick me in the butt to stay focused on my writing. It is Sunday, October 16th and I just wrote 30 minutes non-stop on my new manuscript. Hope I stay inspired.

  • Catia crack says:

    Some wonderful ideas — several of which I employ myself, so I must be doing something right!

  • Love that you’ve not only accomplished so much since you started writing at least 30 minutes per day, Erin, but that you’re also inspiring others to do the same! So happy to have you as part of the #justwrite group, and can’t wait to see what the rest of 2016 and all of 2017 have in store for you.

    The benefits of daily writing seem to be endless… 🙂

  • David says:

    This is great advice. I recently started a webs for my blog to be more accountable to myself. I am so glad I subscribed to your newsletter.

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas!!!

  • Robert says:

    In short, YES, I will join you for 2017. I have written and published 500 words a day, every day on Medium.com since September 1. It started as a way just to build up my writing muscle on the advice of my coach. But, I’ve hosted a blog and challenge, encouraged more than 60 other people in a Facebook group, and I am probably building up enough content to last for a while. But content isn’t the end. I’m just getting started

  • Lynne Wilson says:

    I love this article! It’s just what I needed to read today. My motivation to finish my novel has been reignited. I’m going to try your method, thank you.

  • Deon Reagan says:

    Great article Erin I’m serious about pushing my writing potential further and I always dreamed of having a career in writing stories and books and enjoy something I love doing than what I have to do. You have my support and congratulations.

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