Writing in “snippets of time”

Half of my teaching programs are on spring break this week. I intended to take time to write, revise, and work on projects. Instead, life has gotten in the way and I’m writing in snippets of time. I’ve shared this method with workshop students, who often express how they struggle in finding time to write. The “snippets of time” suggestion is simple: if you can carve out 15-20 minutes here and there, you can write a few paragraphs at a time until your draft is finished. Then you revise 20 minutes at a time.

Basically, if you badly enough want to write, you’ll find time, even if it’s snippets of time. My writing students appear dubious. Have I really done this?

I have. A one time it was the only way I could  make progress on my writing. During a five-year stretch, when I worked a full-time day job, I used my “snippets” during my lunch break. Later, when I found a job that allowed me to arrange a 4-day work week, I still used the “snippets” to work on one magazine article a week. At this job I received an entire hour as a lunch break. Though I didn’t need an entire hour to eat, I did need to get away from my desk. I began walking the two blocks to the local library and spent the rest of my lunch hour researching the next article topic, reading a book about writing, writing a few paragraphs, drafting a cover or query letter, or researching markets. During the weekend I revised the draft written throughout the week. Every Monday on my way to work I’d mail off a manuscript or query letter.

Eventually, the credits added up, led to other writing credits, and finally to my first book series: Kids Throughout History for the PowerKids imprint of Rosen Publishing. When I took on that project, I left that 4-day-a-week job for a half-time job at the District Library in that town. That job offered resources and encouragement from library staff and patrons. I doubled my output of writing—and accumulated bylines.

Now that I write full-time and teach part-time, I still use snippets on occasion. This method comes in especially handy during Season when the number of writing workshops I teach increases and it seems I’m teaching more than I’m writing. I can always find 20 minutes here or there to create a paragraph or a page at a time because writing is that important to me.

So, begin to think about when you can find 20 minutes here or there and see what you can accomplish in “snippets of time.”

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2 thoughts on “Writing in “snippets of time”

    • Exactly, Gwen! Sometimes, it is the only way. It’s also a good routine to make progress when you have several different projects going at once. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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