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Ten Minutes at a Time - Guest Post by Shameez Patel Papathanasiou

Ten Minutes at a Time - Guest Post by Shameez Patel Papathanasiou

Do you have a story in your heart, but can't find the time to simply sit down and write it? Listen to the following advice from Shameez Patel Papathanasiou - author of the exceptional fantasy debut, The Last Feather.


Whenever anyone learns that I’ve written a book, their first question is always: Where do you find the time?

And you know what? It’s a really good question.

Like everyone else, my days are packed. I have a job, a toddler, a family to see to, and to top it all off, Marvel won’t stop releasing movies and TV series. For years, I couldn’t find an hour to myself to write out the scenes that played in my mind and instead, I tried my best not to think of the characters that had taken home in my heart.

Until NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo takes place in November as the National Novel Writing Month. It’s a non-profit organisation that encourages writing by challenging participants to pen 50 000 words during the month of November, which equates to approximately 1 667 words a day.

Fifty thousand words in a month seemed impossible until I realised that those words don’t need to be perfect. A manuscript will (and should) go through multiple revisions before it’s printed and bound as the perfect book. NaNoWriMo helped me break through the barrier of getting stuck on a sentence that wasn’t perfect and as soon as I allowed the story to flow out of me the way it played in my mind, the words ran free.

While I still don’t have an hour to myself, do you know what I do have? What you have?

Ten minutes.

Ten minutes before bed. Ten minutes while waiting in the doctor’s office. Ten minutes while your rice is cooking. You can find ten minutes somewhere and in ten minutes (with some practice), you can type approximately 250 to 350 words.

Let’s do the maths. YAY MATHS.

Ten minutes = 300 words.

A chapter is roughly 2000 words, which based on the above, would take about seven ten-minute sessions.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

In a week you’d have a chapter.

In a few months you’d have a first draft.

A first draft that would likely be the worst version of your story, but it will exist for you to nurture and grow into the beautiful book it will end up being. And whether you’re hoping to publish it traditionally or to self-publish, you won’t do it alone.

Every manuscript will benefit from beta readers and critique partners and this process will be incredibly joyful and terrifying as you realise that reading is subjective. But remember, it’s your story and only you can decide what will make it better.

Soon, you’ll see your story twisting and bending and breaking into the book you wanted to write, which is hopefully the book you wanted to read. Once you’re there, you’re ready for the next step: Finding an agent or publisher.

As a South African writing genre fiction, I knew my options were limited as most local publishers are naturally interested in fiction with a South African flavour and all I wanted to write about was magic, monsters and a lot of kissing. Because of this, I dove into the trenches in an attempt to get published elsewhere.

And I found agents hungrily looking for fantasy manuscripts and small presses open to submissions directly from authors. The best part? Most of them were open to novels written by authors from anywhere in the world.

So, write the story!

Edit it!

Submit it!

Do your best and hope for the best because no one else can write your story.

And I can’t wait to read it, you know, after I’ve caught up with the endless list of Marvel shows.


Buy The Last Feather here



Shameez Patel Papathanasiou lives in Cape Town with her husband, child, and two cats named Turbo and Charger.

During the day she juggles her time between taking care of her daughter and working as a civil engineer — but at night she writes fantasy and romance.

She considers herself a professional binge-watcher and fangirl. Don’t be surprised should you bump into her dressed as a Hobbit or Lady Loki and should you need anything from her, offer her a choc-chip cookie and her heart is yours forever.

Find her online:

Twitter: Shamz04 | IG: shameezwrites |

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