WFMAD Day 1 – Welcome to the Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge



Welcome to the Fifth Annual Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge©!


The rules of the WFMAD Challenge are simple.

  1. Commit to write for 15 minutes every single day this month.
  2. Write, just like you promised yourself.
  3. There is no Rule #3. Life is already too complicated. Two rules are easy to remember. The point is to get you to write, not bog you down with silly regulations.


How Does This WFMAD Thing Work?

Every day for the month of August, I’ll post a quote about writing or art, and a writing prompt. I’ll probably ramble a bit, too, though expect to see less of that this year than in years past. After the ups and downs of the last year, I’m finally back in the writing groove, and that’s where my focus needs to stay. (That, btw, is why I haven’t been blogging or hanging out much on social media sites recently.)

The prompts are written without assuming anything about your experience or abilities. I believe that pretty much anyone can write about pretty much anything if they give themselves permission to do it, and put in the requisite time and attention to craft.

Many of the prompts are written so that you can respond with your personal feelings, memories, or experience. Feel free to respond, instead, from the viewpoint of a fictional character. Use a character from your Work In Progress. Make up a new one every day, if you want.


Where Do I Sign Up?

No sign-ups, although in years past, writers have double-dog-dared their writer friends to join them in the Challenge. I suggest a high-stakes bet with your friend, if you choose to do that.


Do I Have To Respond To Your Prompts?

Goodness, no! Write what you want, write what the little voice in your head is whispering. But if you are stuck, try out the prompt.


How Can You Tell If I Am Doing It?

I can’t. It’s between you and your Muse, unless you tell your friends or leave a note in the Comments section of my blog. (I must admit, I like it when people do that.) Sometimes people post their day’s writing in the Comments section. (I like that, too.)

You are accountable only to yourself, ever, for the amount of time you choose to spend writing. Or if you blow it off. This is a good place to begin the daily discipline, and to get in the habit of that accountability. Here you are with friends who understand the struggle. Feel free to tell us all about your writing challenges, or ask me questions in the Comments section.


Is This Connected to NANOWRIMO?

Nope, but I am a big fan of that project and strongly encourage all of you to sign up for it this year.


Will You Read What I Wrote?

Thank you for asking, but I have to say no. There are not enough hours in the day for what I want to do right now. Sorry.


 Can I Use Your Prompts In My Class?

Yes! Please cite me properly, that’s all I ask. If you get a moment, I’d love to know what kind of feedback you receive from your students. (Permission is only given for classroom use. The prompts, like all of my blog writing, remain my property.)


Why Are You Doing This?

Because the arts flourish in community. When kindred spirits gather they raise each other up. The differences between someone who has been published and someone who hasn’t are not nearly as dramatic as you might think. I still struggle to make time everyday to write. I still choke at the thought of the blank page.  I never write as well or as thoughtfully, or as fast as I want to. But I love writing. I’d be scribbling stories if I had never been published. It is the writing – surrendering to the magic – that is the best part of my day. It balances me, and makes me feel alive. I want to share that with you.


Ready? Set your timers to 15 minutes and get going.


“If the angel deigns to come, it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner.”

Rainer Maria Rilke


Today’s Prompt:  What things do you allow to get in the way of your writing? Be specific, detailed, and brutally honest.


Scribble… scribble… scribble…

57 Replies to “WFMAD Day 1 – Welcome to the Write Fifteen Minutes A Day Challenge”

  1. This may be a perfectly silly question (haven’t had my first cup of caffeine yet) but hand written or computer written? I think it’s the former, but just checking.

  2. Wednesday, August 1, 2012What Holds Me Back?
    It’s the daily shuffle. The dual monitors and non-descript commenting on stranger’s photographs that stands in front of my motivation like a small Tophatted-Monkey with cymbals. I wonder what Emerson’s life was like without an iPhone buzzing calendar reminders; without the buzzing of nearby highways.
    Noise. Perhaps it all boils down to noise.

    My cravings for more are intense. I mutter time and again how I yearn for the chance to write. To one day write a novel of my own and share them with the world. But then, we all make excuses- or perhaps it’s just me.

    If I wanted to write–really write. I would sit down and do it. Perhaps we all just want to run away from our lives. Start anew. Move somewhere with mountains and fields of wild flowers. We all know there is more out there, outside of our small and confined worlds. Our busy lives consume us whole, licking their fingers of the sweet and sour sauce that remains.

    We sit dazed in our cubicals, staring at our empty staplers and wonder why we just can’t get out. What happened to our childhood dreams?

    Someone once told me that our creativity dies somwhere around the age of ten. We are taught–wittled down with extreme scrutiny– to believe that the only way to succeed in life is to follow the rules:

    1. Step in line.

    2. Be quiet.

    3. Do as you are told.

    4. Repeat.

    We measure success by the amount of dollars we hold in our pockets our bank accounts, rather than the joy in our hearts.

    But maybe that’s too cheesy right now. Don’t get too emotional- we wouldn’t want that. After all, we are taught to be strong, confident, and sexy. Be appealing.

    1. Work out.

    2. Do your hair.

    3. Buy nice clothes.

    I wonder again, if Emerson had to live by all of these expectations. Perhaps the walls were smaller; perhaps they were more open. I picture him sitting on a rock in the middle of a wooded pasture. I picture himself, as I was at about eight years old– a notebook in my hand, observing our natural world.

    We might take it for granted. No. We do. We take for granted the sun rises. The shade from a tree. The sounds of the birds cawing, peeping, squeaking, squaking. We take for granted the soothing sound of the ocean waves, or the endless flow of a riverbed. We take for granted our air, water, the warmth of the sun, the lushness of the grass after a good, long, rain.

    It’s all around us, and yet it’s so subtle. In truth, it’s subsidiary to the technology around us. Our need to be in control. Our fear of not being communicated to and connected. But the truth that we all fail to see, is that being “connected” is what leaves us unplugged.

    We have plugged into our cellphones, and out of the world around us, and in turn, we cannot understand why we seem to have this overwhelming looming feeling of saddness and disconnect. The answer is clear- we have to rewind. We have to unplug, disconnect from our control, and take a walk in the world around us- or what is left of it.

    Perhaps then, we may find the peace we are looking for, and be able to finally sit down… and write.

  3. Thanks for doing this Laurie. I enjoyed the challenge last year. I found the writing I did really helped me during the school year as I worked with my fourth grade students. It’s good to exercise my writing “muscles.”

  4. Does writing query letters count? I’m ready at last to send out my first novel! 😀

  5. Hey Laurie! I’m so excited to join WFMAD this year! Me and my friend are planning to write a YA next month and this might just be all the prep I need to help me get into shape. Thanks!

  6. I’m taking up this challenge as a means to “git ‘er done”; I’m trying to write a middle grade nonfiction book and keep finding excuses to not work on it daily. I love the quote today. Thank you.

  7. I’d be doing WFMAD anyway, but that’s one of my all time favorite Rilke quotes, so today’s 15 minutes will happen with extra fervor.

    Good luck with your own writing, Laurie. Glad you’re back to project immersion. That’s such a lovely place to be.

  8. Nope. Writing query letters falls under the category of “business writing.” How about brainstorming for your next novel?

    (Congrats, btw.)

  9. In other years, I have used WFMAD to journal, and because of it, I have heart-wrenching records of my failure to make the varsity soccer team my senior year of high school and my feelings before my first (and second) year of college. I think that I’m going to use it for something different this year though. I’m studying abroad this spring semester and just feel like I want to get this fall semester “over with.” I know that’s not what I should be thinking because college goes by so quickly, as does life, so I think I’m going to use these fifteen minutes to write about something/someone that/who I’m thankful for in the present. I’m starting with a letter to my grandpa, who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

  10. Looking forward to starting this month’s writing … as soon as I put in a load of laundry.. which will qualify for one of the obstacles to writing.

  11. Truth is…I avoid writing because it’s easier not to believe. It’s easier to fear being vulnerable on the page. It’s far too easy to invite distraction, to embrace it, really.

    And then of course there’s my drink of choice… and soon I am on my way to having one too many social media cocktails (again) this morning and then fall…inebriated. Filled with too much info, too many quotes, too many recipes, and more status updated than needed,.. and like retail therapy I’ve swallowed up more than I can chew.

    Two hours later my muse goes packing because frankly, I didn’t show.

    Can you blame her?

  12. Done! 477 words in 17 minutes. Apparently, I had some things to get off my chest. 🙂 I would have kept going, but motherly duties are calling. Apparently, the kids think they need to eat every day. Thanks for the challenge! Got my local writers group to join me. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

  13. Starting this today! I’m just finishing up a blog post on the subject of daily writing and have a link to all your WFMAD posts. Hopefully I’ll be able to coerce…uh…inspire my fellow writing friends to join in. I’m so grateful for all the links and quotes and prompts. You’re a blessing.

  14. Ah, so day one, down! I’m using this as a challenge, but also as motivation. I mean, I am an English teacher who teaches creative writing (among other things) and who leads a teen writing retreat in the summer. And even though I write then, I haven’t taken the time to write for myself very much, something I did do before I became a teacher! I found so much peace and happiness in my writing, even when my writing was somber. I want to get back to that happy place, when I look at a poem or a narrative and I’m proud of what I’ve done. So I’ll be back for more tomorrow!

  15. One of my writing secrets: I tell everybody I have to be at work at eight am…when really I don’t have to start until 8:30. I even have the babysitter come early! Then I sneak away and sit at the park or in my car and write! One of the best parts of the day. 🙂
    (I’m a mother of four, three of the kids are two and under (I have twins), so it can be a little hard–but where there’s a will, there’s a way!)
    I’m ready!!!

  16. Just finished my 15 for day one at the stroke of midnight. A typical start for me.

  17. Thank you for this: I have always loved Nanowrimo, although I have to do my writing in blocks of 5-10k words on a couple of days a week when the kids are in nursery. Fifteen minutes a day I can do, I think, even if it is only in blog posts. (Luckily I only have 22 followers, so hopefully they’ll be patient if I post every day instead of once a week). This is the blog I wrote yesterday for my fifteen minutes:

  18. Day 2 and going strong! 🙂 Hoping to form a lasting habit, not just for the month. Will be something if I pull it off. I can. I know. Just have to do it.

  19. Thank you for this. I have been gearing myself up to do NaNoWriMo in November for the first time, and your 15-minutes-a-day challenge is exactly what I need. I have been out of college for a year, now, and have found–to my immense, guilt-ridden, and panicked disappointment–that I do not write anymore, despite having completed an Honors creative writing thesis that won awards, having majored in English, having written stories in my free time the way other kids/teenagers watch TV and play outside and sneak out to go drinking with their boyfriends. I graduated, and then I went abroad, and got busy, and got tired, and started a real job, and got more tired….and now here I am, doubting myself as a writer, and doubting my desire to go for my MFA

    In any case, I’m ready to fix that, to get back on track. I was looking forward to NaNo, but November is still far away, and stumbling across this challenge/exercise on Twitter–from an author I’ve always admired, and whose books helped shaped my adolescence–is marvelous. Thank you so much! I am excited.

  20. Thanks for doing this Laurie. I blog regularly for my farm, but I don’t always take the time to think about writing each day. I am really trying to make it happen.

  21. It’s the inertia. Overcoming the pull. I try to focus, to see that which is in front of me but it sometimes moves. Or maybe as Einstein thought it is I that am moving but truthfully the outcome is the same–another day passes and I haven’t written a single word. Nike suggests that we just do it but really? Slogans?

    Here in North Carolina you will sometimes hear people say “get out there” and perhaps that is the secret. Put yourself out there. Take a chance. The worst that can happen is, nothing and the best is everything, so the downside is limited.

    Writing about stasis is self-overcoming. The words predict the end.

    Get out there.

  22. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My website goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

  23. My ten-year-old daughter (who did YWP last year and is planning on doing so again this year) and I just stumbled across this because of a link from I-don’t-remember-who on Twitter. She’s already filling out her NANOWRIMO workbook in prep for November and can’t wait to try some of these prompts with her characters. Thank you!

  24. Dear Laurie, I just discovered this today on August 27th and this has helped me immensely. I wish I had found your blog earlier, but I will just start now. I’m definitely going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I have been wanting to do it for 2 years now. I am doing it this November! Woo Hoo! I wanted to tell you that I have a brilliant teacher at school that has us do “Free Writing” It sounds scary and kind of boring but it is great. He had us write in our journals ” How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” A quote by E.M. Forster. We write for 3-4 minutes about a quote, or something he wants us to think about. Our teacher started doing free writing when he was in high school. His creative writing teacher told him to write about “dead skunks in the middle of the road”. His teacher just wanted him to write about that for 15 minutes. His teacher told him to write about that, and it didn’t really matter what was written. He said that he found this extremely liberating.It helps to write and listen to your self write. Your WFMAD challenge reminds me of this. I wanted to tell you that I am so excited about this and it is helping me greatly. 🙂

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