NaNoWriMo and The Ten Minute Rule
By Patti Larsen
As writers at arms during this insane time of getting as many words out as (in)humanly possible, we’ve all stumbled into the motivation trap that is a low word count (or lack all together) that can make anyone feel like they can’t do it. Maybe all the naysayers were right! The temptation to quietly quit is powerful. Besides, no one will ever know you tried… right?
Sound and feel familiar? You’re not alone. The fear of failure in the face of your writing buddies expanding blue bar can quickly send you spiraling into the realm of giving up. Every year, thousands and thousands of people sign up for NaNoWriMo, fresh faced and excited. How many complete? Nowhere near all of them, not by a long shot. They let their fear of failure get in the way. Fair enough.
I’m here to offer you a tool that will (hopefully) prevent that from happening to you. When the negativity monster (your ego) is screaming at you to stop, that you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, you shouldn’t have bothered trying in the first place, you’ll never catch up now anyway… it’s time to fight back with this simple act.
Allow yourself ten minutes. Yup, just ten. You can commit to that, right? Set a timer, even. No matter how busy your life or how many excuses your ego makes, you can find ten minutes to write. By establishing a reasonable time limit, you give your creative self permission to get to it.
I call it the Ten Minute Rule and it’s motivated me when nothing else worked. I’ve used it again and again, on those days when I waste time on Facebook and Twitter, playing video games and with my cats, when I know I really need, WANT to write but can’t get motivated. Then, I give myself a little shake. “Okay, ten minutes.” Sometimes, that slim amount of time is all I do. The day just isn’t a writing day and I let that go, forgive myself for trying to force my art and go do something that makes me happy.
That isn’t the norm, however. I usually end up turning off the alarm, lost in my work again, often emerging several hours later with three to four thousand words down. Funny how it comes so easy when you give yourself permission to write for ten minutes.
It really does work. So, if you are feeling intimidated, overwhelmed by the big picture, just give it those ten little beats of time. What do you have to lose?