Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Writing five minutes a day for a year equals a book

by Alexandra Sokoloff

Happy New Year to all!

I did make a resolution to blog more this year, and I have some essential writing posts planned, focused around rewriting (because come on - anyone who needs basic structure can and really should just buy one of the workbooks). Those of you who did Nano might actually have a full rough draft by now, so this is definitely for you.

But before we launch into that, let's talk about something relevant to anyone who wants to write anything at any stage. And that's finding time to write - and DOING it.

Here's the plain fact.

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 just don't think that's said often enough.


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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.

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. I finished that book, and sold it to a major publisher, in less than a year.

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 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 or 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, write for five minutes, right now.

Alexandra Sokoloff


                                        STEALING HOLLYWOOD

This new workbook updates all the text in the first Screenwriting Tricks for Authors ebook with all the many tricks I’ve learned over my last few years of writing and teaching—and doubles the material of the first book, as well as adding six more full story breakdowns.


STEALING HOLLYWOOD print, all countries 


Writing Love is a shorter version of the workbook, using examples from love stories, romantic suspense, and romantic comedy - available in e formats for just $2.99.

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Leticia Toraci said...

Great post and a question: I have and like your ebook "Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II: Story Structure for Pantsers and Plotters". Any chance of it getting a paperback version?

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Leticia - thank you, I'm glad the book is working for you! Yes, I am trying to squeeze the time in this year to do a print workbook of WRITING LOVE (in between writing two books and a TV series this year...)

But so much of that material is in the STEALING HOLLYWOOD print workbook - if you don't want to wait, I highly recommend you check that out!

- Alex

Unknown said...

Leticia- I have Writing Love and Stealing Hollywood and I HIGHLY recommend just getting Stealing Hollywood in print. I got it as an e-book to begin with, and was damn near writing the book down by hand. It is definitely worth the price. Thank you, Alex, for working so hard to help those of us just starting out.