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.

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

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!!

76 Replies to “Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge – Welcome!”

  1. I’m so excited to start this – I made vanilla cupcakes this morning whilst dancing around the kitchen and waiting for your first WFMAD post to appear, it certainly helped set my mood. Last year I only managed half the month, I had good reasons but this year is brighter and fresher and I mostly I write every day now. Sometimes I need a good kick up the backside, sometimes I’m too busy and tired to write etc. etc. etc., but this this is the perfect opportunity to explore my characters and, of course, myself.

  2. I’m in! Thanks for the kick in the pants, just what I needed. Now I’m getting off line to put my 15 minutes in. Last November I wrote a poem a day for the entire month, kept going through the end of the year and got a book out of it. So, one never knows……

  3. I love this! I can’t believe August is here! Every morning in July (and I’m continuing this in August), I have been writing from 8:30-11:00 in the morning without phone or email interruptions. Trying to get my memoir buttoned up before grad school starts. Glad to see others will be joining me in the writing endeavor every day, even if for only 15 minutes. 🙂 Good luck to everyone.

  4. Fabulous idea! I really need this and I am going to start today! I am probably not going to check in much, but I have at least 3 ideas for manuscripts in my head and I need to get working. This will force me to make some progress!

  5. Funny – yesterday was my birthday, and one of the goals I set for the next year is to write more. If I can stick with this challenge, it’s more likely to happen. You’re right – busy as life can be for me (teacher, band director’s wife, two busy teens), I can find fifteen minutes! Thanks for the nudge!

  6. Just yesterday I was out for a walk at dawn, and I remembered how a few summers ago I used to do that and look forward to your morning posts. Every day, there they’d be. Yours was the first author’s blog I followed, and to have any such connection outside of WD was like living next to Stephen King and knowing he’d be on his porch and have new tips for me every time I dropped by.

    I’d forgotten it was an August tradition, and so was just as surprised to see your post in my Reader as I am delighted to begin this again.

  7. The instant I sat down to write, my girls came out of their rooms, where they had been quietly occupying themselves and now desperately need my attention all of the sudden. Looks like I have a good start for today’s prompt! Now to find 15 minutes…

  8. I love to write!! Having my journal with me in between my college classes will be just the perfect amount of time to write daily, no excuses!I am absolutely elated!!!

  9. Your photos are gorgeous – just flicked through some, I especially love your ‘Lake George Series I’ gallery, absolutely stunning.

  10. I’m in. I have a few stories knocking around up there but, I have never implemented much “BIC” for writing. As soon as I finished reading the post I got to it! Day 1, 15 minutes written. I have a page and a half and a realization that I have a lot of research to do.

    Thank you for starting this! Happy August 🙂

  11. I read your blog each year and have a list of reasons (excuses) why I will just “think” my entries while working instead of taking the time to write them. Bottom line–why would I ever think my students will do this if I can’t commit to do it?! I am not sure where it will take me and don’t have a focused topic, yet. I realize I have to just start somewhere and stop finding excuses….I will start with something I know right now……taking my “baby” to college in 18 days! That, and the mixed emotions should fill the 15 minutes easily. Off to write…………

  12. I am going to take your challenge. It gives me ‘permission’ to take time to write when there is so many other things clamoring for my attention. What a gift to myself.

  13. This might be just what I need. I’m wrapping up revisions on a novel, but one or two others keep hounding me. This challenge will help me carve out the time these children of my subconscious need.

  14. I’m a quilter and bookseller, but I’m now going to write for 15 minutes a day. I wonder what I have to say.

  15. thanks, Laurie. 15 minutes is not a long time but it is amazing how much time we can spend procrastinating instead of just DOING the writing! i spent my time writing a few paragraphs of my neglected novel and now i feel WONDERFUL! i may go back and write some more- but even if i do not at least i know that i can block out a few minutes a day to write a few hundred words and keep the mind moving and the fingers tapping on the keyboard.

  16. I’m in! I have a lot of different kinds of writing to do right now, but at least one of them will get fifteen minutes of attention every day this month.

  17. Time isn’t my problem. Motivation is, so thank you for this challenge. It’s easy to forget that I need to write for myself and not just for publication.

  18. I’ve not heard of this before…but fifteen minutes a day? shouldn’t be that hard…i hope…thanks for the challenge!

  19. Happy to join in, again! I’ll be posting your blog links on the Mobile Writers Guild Facebook page daily to encourage others. 🙂 Hopefully some will take up the challenge and post. Look for “MWG member” in the comments.

  20. I’m looking forward to the challenge! I just assigned my English 101 students their final exam, a self-reflective essay. I was catching up on blog posts as they typed their essays and came across the challenge. What a perfect time for me to begin! I’m logging off now….

  21. I cannot tell you how nice it is to hear this:
    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’m not the only one who does this?? Published authors think this way??

    There IS hope for me after all!

    Challenge accepted. 🙂

  22. Okay, you’ve made me feel sufficiently guilty for my own whining that I’m taking the challenge! Besides, my “time sucker” is going back to school on August 9th, so my productivity should go way up then anyway! (That’s my teacher husband, BTW, and not my daughter! She could stay home as long as he goes back to school!)

    Can’t wait for your visit with the Mobile Writers’ Guild this fall!

  23. I wrote for 17 minutes with no problem. I thought that I would post each day to my blog (and I still might do that) but for now I’ve created a google doc that I’ll use each day. Feel free to check it out here: http://bit.ly/WFMAD

  24. Just did my 15 minutes and it feels so GOOD! to write like this.

    For the last 6 months, even more, I’ve been working on the first draft of a novel, whose idea was brewing in my head for two years without any actual realization. I’ve written snippets, spinoffs, made rough drafts, but it never seemed to work. It has evolved so much it’s nothing like it was at first. And I want to finish this darft this month, hopefully before my birthday (ambitious, that). So… yeah. I’m 58,876 words in, and 556 were written in those lovely 15 minutes. So THANK YOU!

  25. I’m a building principal and we are moving to Writing Workshop this fall in the district. How can I expect teachers and students to write if I don’t?? I’m in!! I loved to write long ago when I was teaching WW so I know how wonderful it is. Going to issue this challenge to my AP also. Thanks for taking this on. Jackie

  26. Okay, I’m in! I have been doing some Slice of Life stories this summer, and they have taught me so much to bring back to my students. I know that I will learn a lot from this also. Thank you for the challenge!

  27. It’s been almost thirty minutes now, so I’ll take a break from writing and tell you all about my first day with WFMAD. (I first thought that it meant We’re F*ing Mad–which we probably are, but that’s beside the point.)
    I’m working on my second novel, which is kind of a re-write of the first. I’m so glad that I decided to start because now I don’t want to stop writing, whereas for the past week, I couldn’t even get myself to open Microsoft Word.
    Thank you for the kick in the butt! I hope I can persevere through the entire month.

  28. It’s my third year in a row doing this. So excited–I’ve been working on the same manuscript for over a year now and now that the rough draft is revised I feel I can start a new project. I just wrote for an hour, it felt so good. I feel so ALIVE! 🙂 Heehee, thanks Laurie for this. Can’t wait to see where this month takes us.

  29. Hi, Laurie. I am a teacher and still have a hard time making time to write everyday during the summer. I met you at Whispering Pines and you spoke about 15 minutes a day then. I often write more than 15 minutes when I write but this month, I will be writing every single day for at least 15 minutes. I’m working on a mid-grade novel and need more discipline. Thank you for hosting this. And, by the way, I just finished Chains and am starting Forge. I love them and will be using them in my Unit on the slave trade for my 5th graders. Thanks, again!

  30. ARRRGGHH! I thought “this is a great idea! such a manageable way to start prioritizing my writing! my toddler is napping, I’m just dinking around on facebook– I’ll start right now!” And I did. Exactly 9 minutes later, Jasper woke up.

  31. Thank you so much for this–I just returned from teaching a writing workshop and on our final day, we discussed ways to keep up the writing. I think this is a great way to do it. I’ve just sent it to all my participants. And I’m committing too! You betcha! Thank you!

  32. I’ve already started! I’m also attempting to do @CampNaNoWriMo this month, so I’ve already accumulated 5,307 words. I’ve decided that I MUST find time to write as I’m much more pleasant to be around when I’ve had time to put my ideas and thoughts on paper (or in a file on my laptop, I guess). I’m also preparing for a new school year that begins in 15 days, plus squeeze in a long weekend family trip and get my children ready for school as well.

    I’ve decided that I need to finish this WIP this fall, so that I can move on to other ideas/stories that are simmering on the back burner in my mind. I hope to apply for a mentorship program, writers workshop/residency for next year, etc. to begin furthering my writing career.

    Best of luck to everyone who is participating in the WFMAD this month! We will be successful!


  33. This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you, and you can certainly count me in!
    Great motivation.
    15 minutes, that’s not so long, I can do that……I WILL do that! : )

  34. Okay, I’ve been terrible about writing this summer. Going outside gives me so much peace, I fail to pick up the pen. I do compose a post on a blog now and then and am writing a story for children, but I do need to just write, too. I will write in my writers notebook so I cannot go back and revise and revise!!! This takes up too much creative time if that’s what you call it sometimes!!! I’m hoppin’ on the train!! Tam

  35. Love you, Laurie, and every single thing you write!! I have been working on a young adult book for a while that my graduate professors have said is “great,” but I’m at a point where I’m stuck, and I don’t know where to go from here. Any advice? Thanks for the challenge!

  36. Ok, I’m in. But, really, for me, I think a bl0g should count. Why? Because I’m completely new at blogging. So, any new venture in writing should count – I think. But just to be on the the safe side, I’ll write for 15 min. in additon to blogging!

  37. All right! So this means the days that I already write, I…well, you know. Write. But the days where I don’t, I can certainly manage 15 minutes. Right?

    Right?? Especially as right now I’m reading everyone’s comments instead of writing. And writing this comment. And…ok. I get it. I’m outta here.


  38. I have the same issue, believe it or not, with my 18 year old son. Someone suggested that perhaps he was curious about what I was writing. Could you try telling them what you’re doing and see how that goes?

  39. Alright! Day one begun on the back porch on my porch swing – Not to hot, not to windy for once. A beautiful way to start. I must have been waiting for time like this, a challenge like this; the words flew out of my pen into my writer’s sketch journal. I knew it was 15 minutes when my beautiful 9 year-old muse and alarm clock came out to ask for ice cream. Here’s to tomorrow!


  40. Thank you so much for doing the Write Fifteen Minutes a Day challenge–I’ve been rambling around doing some writing, but not being very focused, so this is what I need. Plus, I’m starting back at my day job this week and determined to stay focused on what’s important–my writing—even when I’m working at something else during the day, so again, this is what I need.

    I’m posting this comment AFTER doing my 15 minutes, which turned into an hour, so I’m very excited. One day down, 30 more to go!

  41. 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.

  42. 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. 🙂

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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!!

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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….

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

  51. Musing–
    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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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!

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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. 🙂

  57. Pingback: A new character
  58. 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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