Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

More 31-Minute Challenge FAQs

2013 Dream Challenge Here is a follow-up to the 31-minute challenge FAQs, which I have posted last week here. If you haven’t read the basics on it yet, the month-long 31-minute challenge will start on January 1, 2013 and last 31 days. Meant for anyone with a dream they’d like to work toward, the challenge asks the participants to commit to working toward your dream or goal for 31 minutes every single day. If you want to participate, sign up by leaving a comment here or shooting me an email to katiawrites@gmail.com and please read the earlier FAQs.

If you are already in, are you getting ready? Are you getting excited? Good!

1. Who the hell are you, lady and what are you trying to prove? What sort of an author are you, anyhow? I don’t see any books by you yet.

Yes, I got this sort of question from someone! (re-phrased here for fun and entertainment purposes). In my book, a YA novel, set in the falling apart Soviet Union, a timid half-Russian, half-Jew reunites with her dissident mother after a childhood of missing her, and falls into a dangerous relationship with a boy leading her to question who she is and who she should be. It is not yet published, but I, along with my Namelos editor, are working very hard to make that happen, and we’re making some good progress.

As to who I am? I’m only a person, like you. A dreamer. I am trying to prove that many times we let our dreams fall by the wayside when we don’t give them the time and attention they deserve. Maybe this is important to note: I am not promising you will succeed in whatever you wish for, if you work on it for 31 minutes during one month. Thirty-one minutes is only a start. But you have to start somewhere.

2. Is using the timer to measure the 31 minutes mandatory? timer

Hey, whatever works for you, but I really encourage it. Strongly. It keeps the work urgent. It keeps you on your toes. And it gives you the satisfaction of knowing you have reached your starting goal of 31 minutes that day.

3. What if I want to keep going once the time is up?

Finish your sentence, if you must, but don’t linger once the time is up. Or else, the 31-minute limit will lose all meaning. If you are on a real roll, and have time after the timer rings, you have three options:

a) finish whatever you’re working on without the timer

b) launch right into another 31-minute cycle

c) take a little break on the Internet, or have a snack, or stretch, then do another 31-minute cycle

I’ve done all three — and each method has worked well for me on different days and different occasions. Just experiment and see what works best for you.

clock4. What if I have a full-time job/my kid falls sick/I go on vacation/I have a crazy-demanding project at work?

If you have time to read this blog right now, you’ve got half an hour to spare toward your dream! Wake up early in the morning (in general, I think the earlier in the day you complete at least one 31-minute cycle, the better your entire day will go). I’ve written on vacation too — while traveling with my kids and husband and his large noisy family. I wrote on a plane, on a train, in the remote mountains of Italy, in a hotel room in Paris… (Sounds like something from “Green Eggs And Ham:”  “you can have them on a train, you can have them in the rain… you can write in a box, you can write with a fox…)

5. How should I prepare?

a) decide what it is you’ll be working on;

b) be clear on what counts toward your 31 minutes, and what doesn’t; (For example, if your goal is simply to “write every day,” do you count writing blog posts or emails? If it were me, I wouldn’t, but only you know what’s best for you.) Important: do not change this once you start the challenge.

b) come up with a realistic target as far as how much you want to accomplish during the month; tweak it if necessary as you go along;

c) try to come up with a schedule as you decide on the best time for your 31-minutes.

6. You have mentioned that you accept guest posts for the month of January relating to this challenge. What should I write about, and how long should they be?

I am excited to say that two of the participants already promised at least one blog post each, and I can’t wait! I would love, love, love to see some posts from you guys, detailing your experiences, your frustrations, your difficulties and how you overcame them, what prompted you to participate, how it’s working for you, and/or how you’ve tweaked this challenge to work for you… anything like that. I don’t care much about the length, as long as you keep it between 200 and 900 words, roughly. And send along an image, please. It can be a picture of you, or even just, say, your hands on the keyboard, or it can be a photo of your timer. You can be silly with this, if you like!

And here is the best part: if you submit a guest post, I’ll enter your name into the contest twice!

7. Why are you doing this?  writing every day, and loving it.

Over the last year, I have discovered the joys of writing daily, no matter what. It has become like a drug — a good drug. It’s been keeping me in touch with my life’s purpose. I have heard so many of my friends and others regret not having enough time for their dreams. I am doing this for them. I am doing this for me. I am doing this for anyone who needs it… simply because I think many do.

Have more questions? Feel free to send them!

P.S. Just please be patient with me in the next few days, as I will be traveling for Christmas with my family. If you don’t hear from me right away, either here via the comments, or by email, you will, eventually. Thanks, everyone, and enjoy your holidays!


December 21, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. If this proves to be as motivating as I hope it will, I may decide to do 28-minute challenges in February, etc.

    Comment by Jody Bilbo Staton | December 22, 2012 | Reply

    • Ha-ha, I never thought of it that way. I was hoping you could just keep on going with the 31-minutes beyond January, or increase (or, I suppose, decrease) it as you see fit. But actually, this is a cute idea. I like it! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | December 22, 2012 | Reply

  2. Thanks for this.

    Comment by AH | December 22, 2012 | Reply

  3. Okay. You are on my blog. Now it’s too late to turn back.

    Comment by Jessica | December 23, 2012 | Reply

  4. I’ll mention this on my blog Friday.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | December 25, 2012 | Reply

  5. That’d be fantastic! This challenge seems to be really taking off 🙂 Between the comments and the emails, I haven’t even had time to count all the participants. Thanks, Medeia!

    Comment by Katia Raina | December 25, 2012 | Reply

  6. So I already started on this challenge. My personal challenge is to spend the 31 minutes writing short stories. Since sometimes I get stuck, I work on different storylines in the same session, and when I’m really stuck, I actually stop in the middle and resume later at night, but I call a day complete only when I do 31 minutes of continuous writing. So far not so bad. I’m naming the word documents I work in as “day 1” followed by the date, so that when I take a screenshot you’ll get to see how many days I worked and if they were continuous or not. I’m not in to win as much as I am in for the challenge, so I have to admit, I’ve skipped one day already but the rest have been fun. Thanks for the idea. I wish it would really take off. Like start a hashtag for the challenge on twitter or something #31_min_on_ur_dreams

    Comment by AH | December 26, 2012 | Reply

    • AH, nice start. Since it isn’t January yet, the fact that you skipped a day doesn’t count. I love your attitude. As for the challenge REALLY taking off, like, you’re probably talking thousands of participants… I’m a little nervous thinking about it, to be honest… like, would I be ready to handle it if it got that big? I guess if it did, I’d just go with it, but maybe it’d be better if this was more of a gradual thing, more of a process? I didn’t plan for this to continue for longer than this one year, but I am starting to reconsider, seeing the response and the difference it’s been making already. So… not sure how to start a hashtag on twitter. Do I just tweet, and then add #31mins_for_your_dreams or something like that?

      Comment by Katia Raina | December 26, 2012 | Reply

      • Yeah. The hashtag thing could work. It might not trend bt just ppl could post stuff like “working on my #31mins_4_ur_dreams” n write their feelings abt it or quotes that inspire them.n the best way is to add the link if ur doing it so ppl can also know wat it is. Ur call though. It’s great as it is though

        Comment by AH | December 27, 2012

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