Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge – Welcome!

It’s August! That means the Fourth Annual Write Fifteen Minutes A Day© Challenge is here!

Get ready to scribble!

The rules are simple. In fact, they aren’t even rules. They’re more like guidelines, the Pirate Code of Writing.

1. Commit to write for 15 minutes a day for the entire month of August.

2. Just do it.

Seriously. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to sign up anywhere, or meet minimum word count goals or complete a whole freaking novel in 30 days. You can write fiction, non-fiction, memoir, or poetry. Personally, I don’t think blog writing should count because that is immediately published and you always have your audience in mind. I think this month should be a chance for you to go deeper inside yourself. But if blog writing makes you happy, go for it.

Just. Write. Every Day. This Month. 15 Minutes.

This is not the time for editing or outlining. Just keep your pen, pencil, crayon, or fingers on the keyboard moving for 15 minutes. You can use the entire time to write “I don’t know what to write and LHA is crazy” the whole time if you want.

I’ll give a prompt a day for anyone who is feeling stuck. But you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.

I would love it if you guys checked in with me by posting in the comments section. Tell me where you wrote today or for how long, or what you were working on. Tell me what kind of resistance thoughts cropped up as you were writing, or trying to start writing. Tell me what it felt like when the 15 minutes were up.

I will be doing the same thing. I’ve been juggling several books in my head this year; it has not been pretty. And we’ve been renovating our house. I will try very hard not to whine about that. (BUT IT IS TEMPTING!) And it’s August, so it’s hot. And I leave for the SCBWI national conference in a couple days. And…



You see, it’s always something. ALWAYS. There are always things that will get in the way of your writing. Writing can be uncomfortable and awkward. That’s why we procrastinate about it. That’s why we often choose to put writing as our last priority instead of in the top five. We like thinking about writing, and talking about writing, and blogging about writing, but when it comes to the actual writing? Too often, we allow life to get in the way.


I’ll cut some slack for certain groups of people. If you have a new baby in your home, if you’re recovering from major surgery, if someone you love has recently died, you have all my compassion and permission not to worry about writing until your life settles a bit.

But the rest of you?

You can easily carve out fifteen minutes every day to write. You could probably find more time, but I think baby steps are more fun and effective then setting massive, unobtainable, sure-to-backfire goals. This challenge (known as WFMAD for obvious reasons) is about support, not scolding. I like to focus on how we can pick ourselves up off the ground, instead of focusing on the fall.

I can’t promise you a book contract, but I will promise you this: writing every day will help you find yourself again. Writing every day will restore creativity to your life. Writing every day will help you discover balance and bring in more opportunities for happiness. Honest!OK, that’s enough blathering.

Ready…. Disconnect from the Internet (as soon as you finish reading this post!)

Set… Turn off your phone and tell your family and friends not to interrupt you for fifteen minutes, unless there is a fire or someone is bleeding from an artery.

Today’s prompt*** Why do you need this challenge? What project have you been afraid to start? Think back on the past six months. What were your time sucks? Why did you allow yourself to go days or weeks without writing? And what will you do differently this month to give yourself the gift of at least fifteen writing minutes a day?


***LEGAL STUFF: These prompts, like all the rest of the stuff I write for WFMAD and my blog entries, are my material and, thus, under my copyright. You have permission to reproduce them for classroom use only. Yes, you may link to these posts. Spread the word! The more the merrier!!

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  1. Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Did it. And, it was great. I must say that I have been writing more these days – if you count blogging – but you’re right about blogging; it’s just not the same. It’s not ‘free-writing.’ I enjoyed my 15 minutes, stuck to the prompt, but thinking about some fiction in the days to come. Thanks for doing this AGAIN, Laurie.

  2. Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Laurie! Day one completed. I used a cool application for my computer called Omm Writer that some other folks might want to check out. No plan yet for what to write *about* or what style…but I’ll get there. 🙂

  3. Musing Minnesotan
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I am committing to this so I push my teaching of writing to another level this year. I write some of the pieces I assign my students, but find it hard to commit to the Writer’s Notebook writing. I am hoping this will push me to form a habit and continue throughout the school year. Carmen Agra Deedy told me at a Literacy Conference that I have a picture story inside me ready to come out. I hope so!

    • Posted August 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Same here. And sometimes when I am doing the writer’s notebook with the students, it feels like an act. Like I am on stage. I want my writing to be organic like I want for my students’ writing to become.

  4. Shawna Lynn
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I need this! Yes, I know you know I need this, but I reiterate for my own sake. I need this! I am overwhelmed by plot bunnies (I’m sure you understand how the best and worst of them multiply like, well, you know) and the characters screaming for my attention have become deafening. Yet I put off writing every day. Yes, I love to think about writing. I daydream about my unwritten stories when I really ought to focus upon more important tasks, like counting back correct change at work. But when I sit down, the task of just putting one word in front of another when my muse is not singing new bunnies and characters into my ear is, well, it’s odious, tedious, monotonous, laborious, and a bit like brick laying. One of the tricks is to remember that it really is quite a bit like brick laying, and that’s the whole point. If I just continue to put one word in front of another, one brick on top of another, I might end up with a lovely wall, or maybe a lovely house, or a grand mansion, a majestic castle, the Taj Mahal. Well, maybe not the Taj Mahal (true art is never duplicated), but I could settle for a castle. Last night, I listened to a recorded conversation with Neil Gaiman in which he discussed that very issue and gave excellent advice on how to overcome it. It’s the same advice that you have always given. Just write. Even if it’s chicken poo. It can always be revised later. If that was the only source of resistance, I could overcome the challenge relatively easily. Unfortunately, there’s more to the story. I used my fifteen minutes to explore that deeper story.

    Earlier today, I came to a new understanding of why I love to read and write. It’s because I love thoughts and thinking. Reading allows me to explore thoughts that have been preserved indefinitely. Writing allows me to organize and record my own thoughts. So, writing is really just thinking on paper. Revised writings are thoughts that have been reexamined and refined. So, the question is not “Why am I afraid of writing?” It is “What intimidates me about thinking deeply?”

    Deeply thinking about things always leads to confronting things. There are always so many thoughts that never make it to paper, but they are as alive as a garden in the writer’s mind. The darker of those thoughts, the weeds and neglected roses, are the ones that I fear most. They are the things that I have refused to see for so long that it has become easy to pretend like they never existed, until my pen touches paper and I wander into my garden to cultivate my thoughts. Then the brambles snare my hands and force me to look at them. They are the things that shame me, even in the privacy of my own mind. Do I dare to spill them onto paper where others may find them? Nothing written is safe forever. Not diaries. Not even digital journals hidden behind multiple password barriers. All that is written may eventually be revealed.

    I then started thinking about Oscar Wilde. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray last week. Even though the characters and events are purely fictional, Wilde exposes a great deal of himself through the writing. So many of the greatest writers always do, but I could feel his inner torment, his inner shame. From what little I have read of his personal life so far (and I have not had time to delve very deep, so forgive me if I draw an inaccurate sketch), he lived his golden years in London and toured America like a brightly costumed actor upon a stage, but even as he delivered his lines with the sincerity for which the best actors are applauded, I wonder if the criticism of the closed minded world for which he played poisoned him into thinking of his acts in terms of sin. Even where his thoughts in “Dorian Gray” are not explicit, their implications color the rest of the story. While I relish Wilde’s writing and am awed by his mind, I would not want to live his life. London society criminalized him in the end. His anguish is evident through his writing, and I have read that it is even more evident in what he published after his imprisonment. An artist is never very far from his art. Writing exposes the writer.

    You have written that you put a little piece of yourself into every character you write. Those who know you well even found bits of you in Lia, even though you have never personally lived the events in Wintergirls. I have heard the same from many, many authors. It fascinates me and frightens me at the same time. So I must ask myself another question. Will I ever be ready to write? I might as well ask myself if I will ever be ready to walk around naked in public while screaming my innermost secrets over a megaphone. Nope! If I wait until I am “ready”, then it will never happen. I just need to commit to BIC time and lay one word in front of another, one brick on top of another, until I end up with something other than a jumbled pile, even if it’s an outhouse surrounded by weeds and roses.

  5. Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m in. I have been giving myself permission to write this year, for me, because it feeds me. I write lots every day for work as a library media specialist and administrator at a small school. But for me? Been blogging, but I get busy… Mostly, though, I’ve been working on a piece which might be fiction, though it’s based on a real person…. Fleshing out character, putting together scenarios from diaries, now I am down to crafting descriptive moments. SO… this month, I will do it. every day, I will. Off to write! Thanks, Laurie.

  6. Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea. I enjoy writing on my Blog, but I do it for myself and not my readers. I need to start journaling as well as blogging , so I think that I will work on a journal for 15 minutes each day. Great idea here!!

  7. Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m in. My writing instruction will only improve if I work on my writing as well. Thank the cyber-gods that someone I follow on Twitter is also taking part in WFMAD, or I would have never known about it. It is 3 minutes until August 2, so I will do 15 minutes in the morning and some other time tomorrow to make up for missing today! I’m excited–Wooo hooo!

  8. Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    This is great. I have a chunk of writing I’ve been avoiding, but I think if I know I just have to tackle it 15 minutes at a time it may seem less overwhelming.

  9. rsblock
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Just ran across this. I, like others, really need this kick in the tail to get moving.
    My challenge has been that I have a very personal story to tell, and have been secretly writing it in blog form. How do you proceed with a project like this knowing that no matter how veiled characters and events end up, the subject will know?
    Regardless, I am moving forward with it finally….

  10. Lauren Hammond
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    This is just what I need to get going! Procrastination is the enemy. I commit!

  11. Posted August 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Today I wrote in my personal journal about a difficult situation that I’m experiencing at the moment. It is reflective and cathartic to write about what’s going on and to let go rather than censor myself as I tend to do when I write personal journal entries. In fact, that is my new mantra in life: let go and do what seems and feels right. I am taking many risks these days by just trusting my instincts, my experience, and my professional knowledge. It feels good and scary at the same time, just like this 15-minute/day writing challenge I’ve decided to take on for this month.

  12. geriola
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m with the program. Just finished Summer Reading Program on Saturday, and I admit I am pooped out. But August will be for me. I plan to keep a journal for the month. I have looked forward to WFMAD all year actually. It is very cathartic to write without editing. When I have been faithful to writing, I really do enjoy going back and reading my thoughts and ideas at later times. Sometimes I even think – Wow, you came up with that idea! lol. Here’s to a good August for all. Thanks, Laurie, for your time and talent!

  13. Kristi
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I did Day 1! I started a story a few days ago on the computer, then last night moved it to my handwritten notebook. I LOVE how stories go when I’m writing by hand, it feels so much more natural to me! I’m planning to write longhand every day this month. Computers are for revising, rewriting, editing, finishing. Notebooks and pens are for starting. 🙂

    Side note: have you ever noticed the smell of a blue Bic Classic Stic (I think it’s also known as Bic Crystal)? That, to me, is the smell of joy.

  14. Posted August 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I blog so my writing would be on my blog, I have a hard time with writing things out.
    This is only getting me more motivated to write more and have fun with it.

  15. Bridgette Wagner
    Posted August 4, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    This is a great challenge! I am off school now for the next few weeks so this is a perfect itme for me to commit to this. My internet has been down so I will be joining in late. Will get started on catching up with the rest of the crew now. 🙂

  16. Posted August 13, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I love this challenge. The school year has already started for me, but keeping up with this should be easy. I’ve blogged about the challenge, hopefully that will help motivate me to keep up with it.



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