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.


Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Guest Post.

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.

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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.


[…] very happy today to be featured on the blog of the amazing Jane Friedman, who has posted an excerpt from Everyday Writing, including 10 writing prompts that can be done in […]

Marilyn Levinson
Marilyn Levinson

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

Donna B. Russell
Donna B. Russell

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


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

Random Chick

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


[…] fact, Jane Friedman recently posted a sampling of these Everyday Writing exercises online, so you can go ahead and check them out for yourself […]

Littlest Finch » Resource Round-Up #1

[…] 10 Writing prompts for when you’re stuck – Another ‘writer’s block’ resource. These prompts give you concrete places to start when you’re sitting at the keyboard and your fingers aren’t moving. […]

Friday Features #7 | Yesenia Vargas

[…] No Excuse Not to Write: 10 Five-Minute Writing Prompts by Midge Raymond at Jane Friedman […]

Valerie Strawmier
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! 🙂


[…] Students in my classroom, and classrooms all over, discover all kinds of wonderful when we find the right prompt. A few weeks ago many of us had a blast writing on Vermont Writes Day. You just never know what […]