Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 30: The 30 Minute Challenge


Goal setting

  1. Do as many of the 30 minute challenges as possible

Breaking it down 

Taking on the challenge

Here in South Africa, we have a few public holidays coming up. I’ve decided to shake up my writing routine. I’ve come up with a fun challenge for Week 30 of writing a novel in a year. Why not take the challenge?

  1. This week, write for 30 minutes a day or write 300 words a day – whichever comes first. Write without distraction, pausing, or censoring your writing. Keep that hand moving!  You can make this a challenge in your writing group – or set a date with another writing friend to meet at a coffee shop.
  2. Take 30 minutes to plan or outline a scene in your novel. Aim for 3 scenes a day. I call this ‘the breakfast, lunch, and  dinner’ approach. Plan one scene in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Don’t worry if the scenes are not in sequence.
  3. List 30 things about a character in your story. For example, ‘Jena passed out on her first photo shoot’, ‘Matt still keeps photos of his first wife in a file on his MacBook.’ When you’re done, circle the most interesting and cross out those that are boring.

Speedy synopsis

Without looking at your longer, detailed synopsis, open a new document on your computer – or tear a couple of pages from an exam pad. Now re-write a synopsis of your book. Set yourself a limit of 30 minutes.

When you don’t have the luxury of time, you won’t dawdle. You’ll get down only the main points of your novel. You’ll have to find short thumbnails for your characters.

Focus on:

  1. inciting incident
  2. 3 major plot points
  3. climax

If you’re already satisfied with your synopsis, you can try writing the blurb for the back of your novel. How will you seduce the reader into buying the book? How will you set up the main ‘hook’ of your story? Set a 30-minute time limit.

The 30 Minute Writing Challenge

In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises we write out affirmations – positive statements that will motivate us in our journey to embracing our craft or rediscovering our creativity.

  1. So another great idea is to write out writing affirmations on index cards or Post-It notes – keep them in your wallet, or stick them up on the fridge. Write out as many as you can in 30 minutes.
  2. You can also spend a quick 30 minutes on tidying up your study or writing space.  Get organised – file or shred papers you don’t need, make sure you’re working on the right version of a file, sharpen some pencils and, most important, do a backup of your files.
  3. And your final 30 minute challenge: do 30 minutes of research on your novel. Take this time to set up a call or interview with a subject matter expert or do some surfing on the Net.

Timelock — 30 minutes

Write whenever you have 30 minutes to spare.

5 Quick Hacks

  1. Get 30 minutes extra sleep or exercise – whichever most restores your soul.
  2. Read the first 30 pages of a new novel. Write down how you think it will end. Or read the last 30 pages – and write down how you think it started.
  3. Write a summary of your book that can be read in 30 seconds.
  4. Come up with some other 30-minute challenges – and post your challenge on social media.
  5. Drive in your car (or take a bus or train) for 30 minutes. Where do you land up? Write about this place or event.

Pin it, quote it, believe it:

‘For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight hours of sleep and eight of work.’ — Doug Larson

Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 29: 3 Things To Remember About Dialogue
  2. Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 28: Breaking Up Chapters & Scenes
  3. Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 27: Theme As the Engine Of Plot

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This article has 0 comments

  1. Karen Runwright

    Great ideas here. I’m going to use a couple of them with the writing group I’ll be hosting later today.

  2. Irene Loots

    Love the assistance

  3. Anthony Ehlers

    This was a fun post to write. Glad you’re enjoying it!

Comments are now closed.