It takes time to write a book
Time is the one resource we cannot get back. This means that to achieve your goals, especially if that goal is to write a book, means you need to invest time and effort into it.
By investing 15 minutes every week, I was able to write and publish my first book with my friends.
How I wrote a book, 15 minutes a week
My friends and I started a group called, “The Writing Prompt Crusaders”. Every week, we would take turns coming up with a prompt and then we would spend 15 minutes writing based off of that prompt. This resulted in poems, short stories, and experimental pieces that we archived into various Google Docs.
We would do this almost religiously every single week. We would give feedback on each others’ work, select the ‘winner’ of the week, and then that winner would provide the prompt for the following week.
First, by using prompts, I had something to write about.
If I felt particularly uncreative, I would look at the prompt and then use that as a guide to push me forward. If the prompt suddenly made me think about a scene with two of my characters, I’d write about that. If I still was unsure about what to write about, I’d go down the ‘stream of consciousness’ route and write about how I couldn’t come up with anything for the prompt.
Second, by using 15 minutes as a time limit, I found time to write.
There are 10,080 minutes in a week, about 3360 of those minutes are spent sleeping, 2400 are on work, which leaves approximately 4320 minutes to do everything else. With that logic, taking only 15 minutes to focus on something that brings me joy was an easy choice to make.
You may argue that “realistically” 15 minutes every week is not possible to cram into your schedule.
Here’s are my thoughts.
An average Netflix episode is 42 minutes long, that’s over twice the amount of time I’m requesting for you to focus on creating content instead of indulging in it. Many YouTube videos range from 10 minutes to 25 minutes, and those tend to be binge-watched just as frequently.
When put into that perspective, I was able to turn to opening up my Google Document to write instead of opening that all too familiar YouTube site.
Third, by collaborating with my friends, I was kept accountable.
Our weekly prompts felt like a game. Similar to the table top game Apples to Apples, everyone was interested in seeing what kinds of ideas would be put on the metaphorical table for the ‘judge’ to evaluate.
It was friendly competition.
On weeks that I felt unmotivated, I would get reminders from my friends to submit my piece of writing before the deadline. I would do the same for the others, playfully taunting them if I knew it would spur their competitive-side, or giving them words of encouragement if that’s what they needed to move forward.
The point was that none of us felt alone. I felt like we were all in it together and we had each others’ back.
Our weekly prompts turned into pages of material
On a week-to-week basis, it did not feel like we did a lot of writing. However in the autumn when I reviewed our results, I realized we had created something special by just remaining disciplined.
We were the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare.
I decided to compile it into a book
I compiled everyone’s prompts into Adobe InDesign. This admittedly took a while, but that’s why I started in the beginning of autumn so I could chip away at this large project piece by piece. I included a table of contents with each weekly prompt being a chapter, as well as other ‘mandatory’ pages books should have like a copyright page, a prologue, and title page. I used another published book as reference for this.
I created the cover on Adobe Photoshop, wanting to have a leather-bound feel. The title of the book was ‘Writing Prompt Crusaders’ and I added in the logo that one of our friends created a while back to add onto the cover. It was simple, yet personalized for our small group.
I then went on Blurb to publish the book. The process was simple, though admittedly pricey.
Writing a book versus publishing a book
While looking back at our Google Docs felt satisfying to see how our fun writing exercises amounted to pages and pages of content, nothing beat the satisfaction of holding the physical printed book in my hand.
As a digital artist, and as someone who primarily writes digitally, I never realized how impactful it is to have your digital work converted into physical work. Suddenly you can feel the weight of your hard work in the palm of your hands and it’s amazing. This was what creating felt like and I wanted everyone else in my small tightly knit group to feel it.
I printed out 4 copies of “Writing Prompt Crusaders Vol. 1”, one hardcover dust jacket book for each of us. I then proceeded to wrap them up and gave them to my friends who were supporting me the entire time for the holidays.
It was amazing to see how excited they were to see their work, the one they only used 15 minutes a week for, turn into a physical hardcopy book. I could see the gears churn in their heads.
If this was something that they could create this book by just writing 15 minutes a week, what else could they achieve if they really dedicated the time to work on it?
Writing takes time, creating takes time.
However, this does not mean you need to spend every waking moment of your life trying to create. You need balance and all I’m suggesting is for you to take 15 minutes every day, or every week, to be like the tortoise and inch closer and closer towards your goals.
Let me know what you think you could create in 780 minutes.