When I made the commitment to write 15 minutes a day for the month of May, I was hoping it would keep me on track during a hectic month. And I wanted, too, to see what it was like to write every single day, without exception. (Despite having two published books to my credit, I’d never done this for more than 10 days at the most. I love my weekends.)

I wondered if the daily-writing crowd was right: Would writing every day make me more productive? Would it help me dive back into my work each day? Would it make novel-writing any easier?

So that’s how I started: with interest and hope, and in an experimental frame of mind. And then a few days into May I got some bad news, and suddenly writing even five minutes a day seemed impossible. But a pledge is a pledge, and so I stuck with it, all the way through the end of the month. And this is what I learned:

(1) Fifteen minutes is not my natural interval. I hate opening up the file in the first place — but to shut down after a quarter of an hour? Ouch!

(2) But this is not a bad thing. Because I hated shutting down, I almost always ended working for whatever free time I had left that day — often up to an hour. And I’d happily have taken more.

(3) Which all adds up to progress: modest in terms of word count (~ 10,000 words thoroughly revised), but more substantial in terms of character depth and connection.

(4) And I’m pretty sure that deepening of character was a direct effect of working every day. Even on days when I only had 15 minutes, working for just that little bit served to prime the pump and keep the novel simmering in the back of my mind. And that made new parts of the book come to life.

(5) Fifteen minutes isn’t much, but it can be a lifeline. During a really hard month, working on the novel became my most reliable escape hatch. I don’t know what I’d have done without it.

So will I do this experiment again? Actually, I haven’t stopped — and don’t plan to till the end of this week.

After that circumstances really will force me to take a break, during which I plan to read, read, read whenever possible. But once I’m back on my feet, I plan to kickstart that 15-minute habit up again.