The best piece of advice I have received as a writer.

Just write every day of your life. READ INTENSELY. Then see what happens: Ray Bradbury.

I first came across this quote when I joined a Facebook group called Ninja Writers. As a closet writer and NANO enthusiast for years I was intrigued by this. One of the first things that we were challenged to do was write and read for ten minutes every day. Just ten minutes? It doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? Having starved myself of good books for the longest time due to the usual excuses (too busy, too tired, etc.) I decided to give this a go in order to rekindle my love of books and to establish a daily writing habit. Over the course of a month, I did this every single day and I was amazed to find out the following things:

> After the ten minutes was up, I did not want to stop. It turned out that picking up that book and writing that first line was the hardest part. Too often I had put off my reading and writing due to laziness, or in the case of my fiction, a lack of confidence. I rediscovered that these are activities THAT I LOVE, and that it was ridiculous that I had not been including them as a part of my life up until now.

> Reading is a habit for life. As a kid, I was that girl who would take out a bag full of books from the library and have them all back to swap in the next week or two. Reading took me to my happy place. My imagination was swept away and my heart was captured by all of my literary friends. Whether it was my getting older and busier, or my shift of focus into writing terrible, terrible fiction, my consumption of books became less and less until I was hardly ever reading for pleasure anymore. Consuming stories daily has reminded me of the joy and wonder found within stories. Reading is a habit we can carry throughout life. Now that I am spending less of my time in front of screens, I am consuming an average of two novels a month and I am much happier for it.

> Immersion is key. I believe that being exposed to great writing, makes you a better writer. Being exposed to a wide range of writing does wonders in teaching you about storytelling, genre, mechanics, tone, pacing and that is just the beginning. In order to push myself as a writer I recently joined another Ninja Writer’s initiative: The 1000 Day MFA. For 1000 days we have to immerse ourselves and achieve the following: Read one poem, one essay and one short story a day. Read (at least) one novel and one craft book a month. Watch three movies a week (episodic TV is also fine). Write one short story a week. Write one novel a year. I cannot emphasize how much this exposure has broadened my horizons and helped me to learn how to write.https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmedium.com%2Fthe-1000-day-mfa&h=ATOTFmdJpv1eghuayDyuc8v1zCQEOCxh_2TRa9Mfr1IrYPEkL3kwf1Ta3CgdPkRfSPx1avlR1D9YReLdSCkOwofUgfKgqJx7dJncju58HttX6sH0Lkz1Hfpob57ZVOk2xUk5

> Every bit adds up. Not only has establishing a daily writing habit done wonders for my discipline, it has shown me that I can achieve what I never thought possible. I actually have a fully realised plan for a novel and I am 20K deep into my first draft. For the first time ever I believe that this is something that I will finish. I am regularly coming up with and finishing short stories (one of my biggest weaknesses in the past has been never finishing what I start). Due to writing every day, the regular practice means that I am producing more and that I am visibly getting better. That does wonders for inspiring confidence. My extremely introverted self is starting to find the courage to share my stories and (gasp) dabble with blogging, and I am so thankful that I have been able to find my voice.

I realise that many of us are time poor. Even so, I recommend that all aspiring writers try to find that ten minutes of reading and writing a day. It has changed my life. More important, I believe that we should all devote some time into doing what we love.

Learn more about Ninja Writers at www.whatisaplot.com

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