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The 10-Minute Challenge: A Tool to Move You

Do you ever put off working on your writing project because you feel overwhelmed? And then you put it off for a longer period of time until it becomes such a monumental task that it languishes untouched for months and even …bleh… years?

You scratch around on other minor projects while the story you most want to work on remains unwritten?

Many writers have felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project or what they have to do to finish. Even writing a simple sentence can be daunting, especially in the early stages of a project.

I’ve talked to a number of writers over the years who’ve faced this feeling of overwhelm. I also have had to find ways to stifle that reaction to a looming project.

I don’t whistle while I work, i.e. chores; I think. When I finally planted my pineapple baby after all most *gulp* three years of sitting in water, I thought about this dilemma that some writers face during the 10 minutes it took me to plant. 10 minutes!

This top came from a pineapple I actually grew. My big plant had a baby pineapple that grew to about the size of my palm and fingers. It was sweet and succulent, and I put its top in water to root.

The poor plant top stayed in that water bowl, giving me guilt tremors every time I refilled the water. The last few weeks I’ve had it in my mind to get it planted. Still the top, now well rooted, lingered, looking desperate.

Last night, I decided to throw off my procrastination, found an empty pot, and filled it with dirt. I pulled off the dead leaves and nestled the pineapple top into its new home. Ta-da! 10 minutes! It’s done. Seriously, why did I wait so long?

Time has a way of building up the enormity of a project when that’s not the reality of the situation. It’s a simple solution.

My self-perpetuated claims of planting the pineapple being too time consuming or of having other responsibilities reminded me of how writers often put off writing and eventually let overwhelm get the best of them.

So here is my 10-minute challenge:

  • Select a name, event or place in the project you are working on or want to start

  • Set the timer on your phone or on the stove

  • Write for 10 minutes.

  • See where this leads you. How does it make you feel?

  • Repeat tomorrow. And the next day… (Okay so technically this last step means it’s longer than 10 minutes, but I think you get my meaning.)

I read an article about Jerry Seinfeld’s advice to a young comedian regarding success. Seinfeld told him to write a joke every day, and then cross that day off on his calendar with a red Sharpie. Soon there would be a chain of red Xs. Seinfeld told him, “Don’t break the chain.”

Life, work, family, illness and a mixture of these situations can stymie our creativity and output. So take the 10-minute challenge!

I’ve set my own daily 10-minute challenge for a project that I want to finish. Later I’ll update my blog about how it’s gone.

What can you challenge yourself with for 10 minutes a day? Please share in the comments below.

Time has a way of building up the enormity of a project when that’s not the reality of the situation.

Millard is a writing coach and project development editor. If you’d like to see how she can help you, email her at bonny dot millard AT gmail dot com and ask for a complimentary Project Discovery Call to learn more.

#WritingChallenge #Gardening

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