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The Difference 20 Minutes Can Make

Guest blogger, Kelli Russell Agodon

Kelli Russell AgodonAs a writer, undisturbed blocks of time can be crucial for our success. But what if you have kids, a day job, or other commitments that stop you from sitting down for a long block of time to write your bestselling literary novel or award-winning article? Answer: You find ways to do more in less time.

I have learned to never underestimate the power of what can be done in twenty minutes.

Many writers believe they need large amounts of time to make a difference in their work or to finish a project, but if you can learn to break down a larger project into smaller bits, it’s pretty remarkable what can be written in these short periods.

I see these short blocks of time as a way to challenge myself as a writer. Sometimes I’ll give myself a task: Write a poem in twenty minutes, Write a short story in twenty minutes, Write a blog post in twenty minutes. For me, these challenges make me begin. They take my mind away from the overwhelming thought of a 45,000 word memoir and bring it back to an enjoyable short period of active writing.

Once I’ve started writing, I can lose all track of time and sometimes will become lost in the flow of creation. This is how planning to write “just twenty minutes” can help you begin. But if it’s a day when I am not able to write longer, I still have focused those twenty minutes on my work, those words that came during that short amount of time and I remind myself that I am farther along than if I wouldn’t have written anything. And that matters.

Kelli Russell Agodon is the winner of the 2009 White Pine Press Poetry Prize judged by Carl Dennis. Her manuscript, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, will be published by White Pine Press in the fall of 2010. She is also the author of Small Knots (2004) and Geography, winner of the 2003 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Currently, Kelli lives in the Northwest with her family. She is the co-editor of the literary journal, Crab Creek Review.

You can visit Kelli regularly at her blog, Book of Kells or at her author website: www.agodon.com

Want to write for The Writer’s Life blog? Drop us an email at thewriterslife@hercircleezine.com.


Melissa Corliss Delorenzo
Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo is a writer, reader, yogini, mom, homemaker and the Associate Editor for Her Circle Ezine. She loves to cook and take long walks with her kids and is a woman who wants to meaningfully exchange and intersect with other women writers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She is at work on several novels. Melissa lives in North Central Massachusetts with her family.
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