No Excuse Not to Write: 10 Five-Minute Writing Prompts


Everyday Writing by Midge Raymond

The following is excerpted from Everyday Writing by Midge Raymond. The book is meant for anyone with a passion to write but never quite enough time. Find out more at the publisher’s website or view on Amazon.

Why take the time for writing prompts?

Writing exercises can help our writing in ways we don’t know until we do them. They can allow our minds to retreat from the puzzle of a current project and wander a bit, perhaps leading us back to the puzzle from a different angle and getting us closer to a solution. Writing prompts can help us discover new material for an old piece, or new material for a new piece—or they can help inform whatever it is we’re working on. Sometimes, best of all, they can take us places we never knew existed, and lead us right into the next poem, story, or novel.

Once, in response to one of my e-newsletter’s writing prompts (“Describe what’s on your bedside table. And why.”), a writer told me she didn’t actually do the exercise, but she did clean up her bedside table. I loved that—it’s progress of a different sort, but who’s to say that having a clean bedside table can’t lead to clearer thoughts and better dreams? And, perhaps by extension, more vivid writing.

Here are 10 writing prompts from Everyday Writing, which offers 150 prompts, as well as advice on how to fit writing into your day.

Describe what you looked like at the age of five.

Write about a really bad first date.

Write about a poem you’ve always remembered.

Describe your most annoying Facebook friend.

Write about an e-mail you wish you hadn’t sent.

Describe your childhood bedroom.

Describe a ritual you have.

Write about what you’re wearing on your feet, if anything.

Describe your last bad haircut.

Write about a time you were late.


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Midge Raymond

About Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond's short story collection, Forgetting English, received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her stories have appeared in TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, and many other publications. Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and received an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship. Midge lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is co-founder of the boutique publisher Ashland Creek Press.

  • Dane Zeller

    Thanks for your advice and your prompts.
    I’ve already started on my own prompt: describe the setting, characters, action, story-line, conflict, conflict resolution, plot, and ending of a detective novel.
    I’ll start on the really bad date next.

  • Midge

    Thanks, Dane — I like your prompt and hope you enjoy the bad first date one as well. Happy writing!

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  • Marilyn Levinson

    Love your 10 suggestions, Midge. I’ll save them.

  • Donna B. Russell

    Great prompts! Several triggered ideas as I was reading them.

  • Bonnee

    Ooh, I love prompts! They’re so fun! :) I might try these out at some point. 

  • Midge

    Thanks, Marilyn – hope you enjoy them! 

  • Midge

    So happy to hear this, Donna — exactly the reaction I always hope for! Hope this leads to some wonderful writing for you…

  • Midge

    Hope you do & hope they’re fun ones for you! 

  • Random Chick

    Thank you for your advice. I am doing one of these writing prompts as soon as I hit send on this comment. 

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  • Valerie Strawmier

    These are a really fun place to start–thank you! They also go hand in hand with my blog post about writing goals and setting time limits. I love this and am sharing it with my followers! :)