Thursday, July 18, 2013

Every Minute Counts

My children are deep into the Half-Price Books summer reading program where the Top Reader is determined by the number of minutes read over the course of June and July. In seeking the grand prize of a $20 gift card (think of all those glorious books!), they know that every minute counts.

As of July 14, these are the tallies of minutes read since June 1 ~

13yo ~ 5,850 minutes
11yo ~ 5,170 minutes
9yo ~ 2,675 minutes
7yo ~ 890 minutes
4yo ~ 670 minutes
2yo ~ 590 minutes

While life as an adult has prevented me from amassing these amounts of minutes, I, too, have been known to sneak in minutes of reading…while stirring supper, brushing my teeth, sitting in line at the ATM. I even tried reading while driving when I was in college, but that’s not exactly conducive to concentration on the printed page.

But what about with writing? What if I snatched and sneaked and stole every spare minute for writing?

What if I jotted down a bit of dialogue whenever I passed my computer…a bazillion times each day?

What if I brainstormed ideas for setting while rolling biscuits and then wrote it out during the ten minutes of baking?

What if I made mental notes for character names and quirks while picking up after the two-year-old and then scribbled them out as he pulled all the toys out again?

What if I moved my laptop to the dining table and, in between discussing O. Henry with the eighth grader and diagramming sentences with the sixth grader, I added a few sentences or even paragraphs to my WIP?

What if, while my husband watches yet another Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, I sit next to him on the couch and research a few details?

What if, instead of quizzing the fifth grader on insect heads, abdomens, and thoraxes (Blech!), I edited my chapter five? Well…we do need to fulfill our commitments, don’t we?


When my moment comes and I get that call, I want to be ready with bunches of books and fleshed-out ideas.

Every minute counts.

Q4U: How do you make your minutes count?

Meghan Carver is a 2013 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the author of several articles and short stories. After achieving a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Millikin University and completing a brief stint in immigration law, Meghan heard God calling her to be at home. Now homeschooling her six children with her college professor husband, Meghan has returned to her first love of writing. She blogs about homeschooling and homemaking at


  1. Hi Meghan! Thanks for a great post. Loved the photo with all the Nancy Drew mysteries! I've always been a devotee and that titian-haired sleuth jumpstarted my love of reading one summer (I even paid homage to her in my debut novel). As far as making my minutes count in terms of writing, I transfer my WIP to my Kindle and I'm constantly stealing minutes here and there throughout the day to read and make notes. I can't tell you how many times during the day I mull over characters and their stories. I love those moments of inspiration when you stop and write something down to incorporate into the manuscript. I try to get in at least an hour (at the bare minimum) for writing or editing each night and try to work on blog interviews on the weekends. I don't like bumper stickers, but if I had one on my car, it'd say, "I'd rather be writing!"

    1. All of those Nancy Drew's were acquired in previous year's Half Price Books summer reading clubs, and now they are being used to contribute minutes this year. It's a wonderful cycle.

      Too often I find myself musing over my next blog post when it should be time spend on a novel. More self-discipline needed, so I like your idea of leaving blogging to the weekends. Thanks!

  2. Thanks very much, Meghan. I spend too much time playing Spider Solitaire and Mah Jong Titans and Hearts on the computer or else commenting and sharing everything on Facebook. I needed that kick in the rear. Thanks for the encouragement.


    1. I wouldn't call it a kick in the rear, Jeff, but I'm glad it was helpful. :)

  3. Great picture! And AMEN to those awesome examples you shared! :) I've always used semi down time like washing dishes, peeling potatoes, stirring a pot of something--all those times when your mind is only semi needed or engaged in the task at hand--to ponder what's next, how to amp up the tension, or to get a little one-on-one time with my characters. Those stolen moments waiting in line or between tasks can add up to a lot of good, productive writing time. Oh--folding laundry and matching socks are great thinking times too!

    1. Maybe folding laundry would be a good time to brainstorm your character's appearance or their clothing preferences and what those selections say about them? More great ways to make the minutes count, Beth.

  4. Really fun post, Meghan! I'm new to this blog, but your article definitely has me wanting more. I love your spunk and creativity.

    Making my minutes count, for me, means working on my WIP during commercials of my favorite TV shows. I only have shows one day a week right now (the NBA is in the off-season), so I have lots more time to write with little distraction. But I still manage to squeeze in more time during commercial breaks sometimes.


    1. It's amazing what you can accomplish with just a few minutes here and there, isn't it, Andrea? Thanks for reading!

  5. I can "brain-write" that is create scenes, but when I try to multi-task while doing other things such as cooking or driving I don't do either thing well. I do grab those moments to read using audio books, otherwise I seem to fall asleep before I get more than a couple of paragraphs read. Good topic for discussion.

    1. Reading/listening to audio books is an important part of writing and an excellent use of those minutes, Mary. Thanks for participating in the discussion.

  6. As a homeschooling mother, you have to know more about time management than the CEO's of most major corporations! Thanks for sharing these true-life insights, Meghan!

  7. What a great piece, Meghan, and what a convicting one! Thank you. I love your catalogue of redeemed moments. Much pre-writing takes place under the guise of washing dishes, vacuuming, sweeping the patio, and folding the laundry. Key is keeping pen and paper within reach. Oh, and I love, love, love the photo!

    Write on!
    Because of Christ,