Here are our answers to the questions we’re asked the most. Or, ones we feel we would be asked the most, if people actually asked us these things. Or something.
Q: I’d like to join the Write Despite Challenge, but I missed the January 1, 2013 deadline. What do I do?
A: January 1 is when we started. You can start today. Tomorrow. Pick a date on the calendar. Just commit to start writing on that date for at least 20 minutes a day for one year. Or six months. Or whatever you think you can manage.
Q: I have a blog. Can the writing I put into my blog count as my 20 minutes?
A: That’s totally up to you. We don’t count our blog time in our daily minutes, because the whole point of our writing on a regular basis is to help us complete our projects–the books we’re working on. Is writing your blog your project? If so, cool–use your 20 minutes for it. If not, use your 20 minutes to make progress on your book, or short stories, or poems, or songs, or plays, or Hallmark cards. Whatever you’re writing.
Q: Are you high?
A: Absolutely not. Not today, at least. We did cook this up one night when we were both swilling the sauce, but we’re still on board. And, for the most part, sober.
Q: But how are you going to accomplish anything in only 20 minutes a day?
A: You know how intimidating that jigsaw puzzle looks when you first dump out those thousand pieces and that weird puzzle dust is flying everywhere, and you think, this will never happen? But pretty soon the pieces come together don’t they? And if you only put in one piece a day, you’d still finish the damn thing in, um, a thousand days. Okay, that’s a long time. But it would be finished.
Q: But what if you want to write MORE than 20 minutes?
A: Absolutely not. All writing must stop at exactly 20 minutes.
Of COURSE you can write longer. In fact, picture us cheering you on from the sidelines: “Go writer! Go writer!”
You only need to write AT LEAST 20 minutes. What happens after that is your personal achievement. And, by the way, you’re welcome.
Q: What if you’re just not feelin’ it every day?
A: Not to be rude, but just get over yourself. Books come from work, not divine intervention. To quote Jack London, “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club.”
Q: But what about Christmas Day (or any other biggie holidays you celebrate)?
In his lovely book On Writing, Stephen King tells of how he once lied to a reporter who asked him how often he wrote. King told the man he took Christmas Day off, because he didn’t want to seem like a writing-obsessed freak. But, he admits in his book, he is a writing-obsessed freak and does actually write on Christmas. And we can too! Hey, who doesn’t need an excuse to sneak away from the piles of wrapping and the children who’ve turned from bleary-eyed angels to sleep-deprived demons the minute that last ribbon came off? Retreat to a room–the bathroom if you have to–and write. Because… it’s only 20 minutes!
Q: What if you have the flu?
A: Ask your partner, your kids, a neighbor to deliver a laptop and Nyquil to your bed. Set a timer. If, in only 20 minutes you write a mere paragraph in between nose blowings, you can drift off into that Nyquil coma feeling at least a wee bit better. We promise.
Q: But life intrudes! What if the kids are whiney, the hubby is raging, the wine bottle is empty?
A: Kids must be put to bed, along with hubby, and emergency wine run to 7-11 must be made. Even if you’re the only one up at midnight and your bed is screaming your name, come on, you can last until 12:20.
(But please note: Daily disturbances in your writing are not the same as major life upheavals. If any true emergencies occur–and we sure hope not!–give yourself a break and stop. The writing will be there when you return.)
Q: Okay, but what if …
A: Enough already. We’ll talk more once we get started. Just remember that whatever you have to do to write despite, it can be done because
…and here’s the beauty of it…
IT’S ONLY 20 MINUTES!