First, a standing ovation, please for the unfreakingbelievable Diana Nyad!!


After she swam 103 miles in 53 hours (without sleep or a shark cage or fins), Ms. Incredible said, "…you are never too old to chase your dreams."

That's why you're here. That's why you're trying to get into the habit of taking just 15 minutes a day, every day to write, Even if… no, especially if at some point in the last two days, you didn't write. 

I'm not going to scold you, but if you want, I can brew a cup of tea. And scones, they always help when you hate yourself for not-writing.


Doesn't that look nice?


OK, maybe that was a little over the top.

The point of these 15 minutes a day goes a little deeper than you might imagine.

1. It forces you to reexamine how you choose to spend your time.

2. It makes you be honest with yourself about how important the writing dream is to you.

3. It teaches you that you do not need 8-hour stretches of completely free time that magically coincide with an Internet outage and you feeling so inspired, you swear the Muse is nibbling on your earlobe.

4. By touching base with your creative self every single day, you make your life about one billion times easier in those precious, rare moments when you have an hour or three to focus on your story. 

Have you missed a day? STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT. We're not going to kick you off the team. Here, have some more tea.

Instead of freaking out about whatever it was that got in the way of your fifteen minutes, just start writing. OK?

Today's non-fiction prompt: If this is truly day 3 for you, write about what the last couple of writing sessions have felt like. Harder than you thought? Easier? Why? If you haven't quite gotten the hang of taking those 15 minutes, write about what got in the way and how you feel about it. 

Today's fiction prompt: Pretend your character is trying something crazy, something lonely, like swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage at age 64. Alternate between the extreme physical nature of the challenge ans the character's thoughts. Change up the activity and character as you see fit.

Fifteen minutes. More if you want, but just fifteen minutes spent writing today could change your entire life.

Scribble… scribble… scribble…


19 Replies to “WFMAD Day 3”

  1. For me this is day three.  The last two days taking time to write has been freeing.  I even tried some poetry which I formerly officially decided I sucked at and  it's been going well I am amazed at how good it sounds when I'm done.  I've been able to write without thinking about grammar and spelling as much, Take that inner critic!  And I'm even thinking about trying to write a novel in November.

  2. I'm on day three – the first two days didn't feel as if I was writing what I wanted to write, but I trudged on.  Today, I think I may have gotten started with something I can work with.  A little nervous about sharing my draft because it's really just free-writing, but here goes…

    As time passed, I marveled at his inability to accept accountability for anything.  I wanted to shout, “Wrong answer.  When you do something that angers or offends someone (me), the correct response is to apologize.  Not to blame the other person for your actions.  Again.”  And again.  And again.  Instead, I-the-silent-enabler repeatedly found myself in a puddle on the kitchen floor, beaten down by his hateful words and soulless, angry face.  With the arrival of each perfect baby, the beatings grew more enraged.  Somehow, I had become culpable in his utter dissatisfaction with his life.  Each time, I gathered myself to face the next day, avoiding eye contact with him.  Each time, he became kinder and gentler – perceiving by morning light that his job was done.  He had wagered his adrenaline in a rush of notifications expounding the myriad ways in which I had failed.  The high of his rages left him feeling accomplished and masculine.  It left me feeling fearful, resentful, angry.  How could I have chosen so badly?  It’s not as if I was a child when we met.  I was 32 years old, and I was so sure that he was the right person for me.  And so, I shared my emotional scars with my closest friends and let the world think that behind closed doors, we were normal.  Happy.  Functional.  I worked hard – late into every night – early every morning.  I found success, validation, even love in my work.  And the ability to avoid him.

    Eventually, the day came when his rage-fixes failed to satiate him…

    She knew of exactly three ways that he could end it all.  As she waited for the phone call, she skipped the details of how to tell her children and what she would offer the uncomfortable officers who would soon ring the bell. She had put off going for groceries this week, and now faced with the prospect of uninvited company, she realized that the delay had been a mistake. They, she assumed there would be two of them for liability reasons, would see her mountain of unfolded laundry in the living room and the kids' toys as proof of life scattered across the floor.  But they might also smell the turkey she had roasted the day before and the chili in the Crock Pot now and recognize that she had done some of what was expected of her in the preceding days. Still, at this moment, she had nothing to offer them to sip or to chew while thinking of what to say next to an abandoned mother of three.  Her mind though, however immobile her body, sped past those details to planning the minutia of the funeral. By three o'clock, she knew what she and the children would wear. She knew how she would greet the guests, some of whom she would be meeting for the first time, others whom she hadn't seen since the wedding nearly eight years before.  She knew that she would be so busy tending to the children on that day that she wouldn't have to cry.


    But the doorbell didn't ring. Instead, he came home. For the first time she realized why he had married her.


    There were three ways. She knew he had guns. That was one. His car. Into a tree. Off a bridge.  That was two. And… Shit. She couldn't remember number three, but she was sure it would come to her.  Her children had seen him come home. They'd seen him in the pieces she knew him to be.  Now that would be difficult to explain. Six-foot-three-inches-of-falling-apart, a.k.a., Daddy.


    She found him sitting in the dark with the pastor she had called, the one she respected but quickly figured out really didn't want to be there. In their home.  Laundry everywhere, formerly folded, now scattered. By whom?  Him?  The pastor?  Didn't matter. It pissed her off either way. That was the one thing she'd accomplished before the calls from his boss had started.  Now it would need to be done again.


    He sat with his face in his hands and started pouring out the sewage of his life. Confession. His unburdening. At her expense. He was proving to be very expensive.


    Pornography. "You need to take that computer."


    Under the dresser. The dresser she had had since she was a little girl. It was the dresser of her childhood now hovering inches above a vessel of filth. She pulled the contamination from behind her seat on the floor.  A cable. An old computer. "I thought this had died."  She wasn't sure if she had said the words aloud.


    Pastor:  "You know this isn't about you."


    Whatever.  Then you sleep with him.


    Professional lies. "I was fired from my first job in Indiana for exposing myself in front of some of the ladies there…."  Blah, blah, blah.  "I was going to be fired again.  At least you would have my insurance."


    And peace, she thought.


    She really didn't care about the details. Her mind felt as if she'd smoked something.  And inhaled.  How fucking childish.


    "My work computer.  I bought a huge magnet and wiped out the hard drive.  I was scared, so then I smashed it."


    He was speaking like a child.  All gibberish and bullshit.  She'd been trying to keep the pieces from scattering for so long, trying to avoid what would set him off, flailing about at the huddled target she became. Now here they were, fractures and fictions exposed.


    "This isn't what I know of you," the pastor said to him. "I know you to be a man's man…."


    Really?  That's when she was sure he didn't want to be there with them. She couldn't blame him though, who would?


    As the pastor worked hard to get out of our house and off the bed covered with tumbled laundry piles, not wanting to be left alone with this pitiful creature, I spoke the obvious – “He didn’t intend to come home today.  I’m not prepared to deal with that without help.”  The pastor asked if that was true, and his head nodded as he said, “All I needed to do was pull the trigger.”  I don’t believe he ever had the guts to do it.  He has no courage.  But maybe this was my ticket to a happier marriage.  So, with the pastor, his vehicle and the open gun safe were emptied of guns and loaded into my mother’s vehicle.  We drove to the hospital.  I sat with the pastor while he was admitted and read his copy-n-paste letters to his parents, to me, and to each of the kids.  Meaningless clichés.  Even now he couldn’t express an original thought.  “I was a mistake for a person.”  No shit.

    I wanted desperately to leave, to go for a drive, to go for a smoke, to go anywhere but this hospital where no coffee was available and I wasn’t permitted to have any of what was there baking into tar.  How long could it possibly take to get his pathetic ass into a placement and carry him away in the ambulance?  I knew the answer to that – I had tried to find placements for enough students over the years that I knew it could take a very long time.  Still, the several hours waiting were interminable.

  3. Day 3 it is.  Was having a lot of doubts about a nonfiction project I'm working on…. so I appreciate your blog post.  Back in the game.

  4. From Friday evening until Monday night I stepped up my efforts. Fifteen minutes was my minimum, but I usally did closer to thirty minutes, twice a day, plus about an hour each night. I added 5460 (what would usually take a few weeks) in that time. It's over 65K and I'm hoping to finish this first draft (two years of writing and 5+ years of research) this week.

    Thanks for all you do!

  5. What I am loving the most about this experience is letting go. While I do write every day, rising with the sun, I have been focused on a revision deadline. 

    These prompts allow my mind to play with something new, something spontaneous. After I choose between the fiction or non-fiction, I set a time and then let my fingers fly, only seeing later where the words take me. And continue to take me, long after the ding of the timer. 

    Thank you, Laurie!! 

  6. This is day 3 for me.  Day 1 was visionary writing, day 2 was business writing.  Going to write today on why I see the two as different things!  Enjoying this.

  7. I've been using these prompts to find new dimensions to my wip. So far, some interesting things have come up. Not sure if any of them will stay in the story, but they have been fun to write. My character likes them too.

  8. Day three for me too, but my writing time has been focused on blog posts.  Was feeling guilty, but the point of this whole exercise is to get back in the writing saddle again. I haven't opened my current wip, lately. There were many factors involved, and the biggest being a BIG move from CT to FL. I'm still settling in, unpacking, and started a new job. I'm just trying to get into a routine, and taking the 15 minutes to blog about my journey is good enough for right now. I write poetry as well. It has always been one of my best outlets. The words are starting swirl in my head again, for that particular style of writing.


    Peace and love,

    Paula R.

  9. Day 3 for me! I chose the fiction prompt! 🙂 


    There is only solitude in running. The feel of my feet hitting the pavement, the joy of feeling my strong legs propel me forward. The rhythmic motion of my lungs taking deep breaths. These are the clearest moments of my day, where I know exactly what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling. It’s a lonely feeling, but also necessary. I love the repetitive motion it soothes my anxiety in ways that nothing else does. 

    I am truly happy while running. I examine my job, and think of how I will get through the day. My legs begin to burn at 1.5 miles, and I relish the pain. It makes me feel alive, and I keep moving forward. I think about all the things I have to do. I smile as a certain song comes on. I feel accomplished when I hit 2 miles, and I get a read out of my statistics.

    At 2.5 miles my legs stop burning, but my lungs struggle to keep up. I focus on my breathing. In and out. In and out. I think of how beautiful it is today, and I hope that the wind will pick up and cool me off. One foot in front of the other. My breathing becomes rougher at 3 miles, and my leg muscles start to feel less elastic. 

    They don’t burn, but it is harder to push off the ground and I feel out of sync. One, two, three, four. I count each foot fall and get back into the rhythm of the motion.  I want to stop and let my body rest. I think This is a test of mental strength. You can do this. You have done this. Quitting now is just your mind telling you to quit. Your body says keep going. 

    At 4 miles, everything begins to loosen up again. I feel better and stronger. I pick up my pace, and I switch to a higher tempo song. My feet pound the pavement in sync with the notes of the song. I find myself grinning at the lyrics, and loving that I feel so very, very alive. It starts to rain, and while I hate the rain I love it at that particular moment. I feel as it pelts me in the face, and I feel it running down my arms and legs. 

    I am coming close to the end of my run, and I push myself the last .25 of a mile. I am determined to get the most out of my run. I know that I will beat my goal for today, and I will push myself to make it. If you can do this today, you can do anything today. You will get through your work day, You’ve run 4.25 miles, you can do anything. I think of all things I need to get done, I think of my job, and my co-workers. I’m aware that my husband will await me with impatience when I get home. He will beg me to make him breakfast, or get him coffee, or clean his clothes, or take care of the many things he should be able to take care of himself. 

    In these moments I am free. There are no expectations of me while I’m running. I am focused on my issues. On me. This time is all about me. No one to ask me questions, or make recommendations, or fix their lives.

    Finally my run ends. I slow down to a walk, and the rain pours down. I walk the last .25 miles home to stretch my legs out. I love the feeling of my muscles stretching and cooling down. I feel rush of excitement and adrenaline. I feel so much better than I did before I left this morning. I am accomplished. I have conquered the road. I have done something that many people cannot do. I win. 

  10. Such a simple thing to do. I've done other writing goals successfully and then I take some time off and the I'm not worthies show up. Thanks for giving me that nudge that almost all writers need from time to time. Day three and still doing fine. I'm planning on spending some time this weekend reading some of the comments and visiting a few websites. After I write, of course.  

  11. I've made it three days, which I consider a huge accomplishment— I even blogged about it!— considering my yearly struggles with NaNoWriMo and my daily struggle to find time to write. Thank you for being an inspiration.

  12. Started the challenge.  Not posting much to my blog yet– will see where it goes.  Just looked at the time and I've been at it for almost 45 minutes!

  13. Made it to day 3! Let's keep the momentum going! 🙂


    It quit, hallway through.

    One moment, I’m nodding off on the bus, Owl City pulsing its melodies into my ears, and then: nothing.

    Well, and by nothing, I of course mean everything except the one thing I want to hear.

    I cracked one eye open to look at the iPod screen, but instead of the pause I was hoping for, it was indeed a dead battery. “Ugh,” I breathed, sinking lower into my seat.

    Maybe I could just leave the earbuds in and nobody would notice…except that I couldn’t escape the fact that I’d noticed. The whole damn point of the iPod was to counteract my aural ADD, and without it, there was no relief from the conversation snippets and city bleeps or the clanking of the bus break – I thought breaks were supposed to squeak? Please God don’t let us self-destruct before I get home.

    So I gave up. Wrapping the earbuds around in a tight circle before placing the whole apparatus into my sling purse, I turned my face to the window and resigned to my fate. If my life were a movie, this would be the point where the storm came, the rain blurring my face from the camera’s view outside the bus, channeling my inner turmoil to the masses. Heck, if my life were a movie, the soundtrack would still be rolling.

    These are the times when I really wish I was like a normal person and didn’t get carsick. I could be reading a book or something. So much wasted time, transporting ourselves from one place to another.

    A baby cried to my left, and I watched the mother point to something out the window. Hey, this sunset is gorgeous! Those varying shades of orange blending into the darkest pinks and purples that only comes right before the dark of the night. I didn’t realize the route even took us through this part of town.

    The older gentleman in front of me coughed, covering his mouth with a handkerchief. People still carried those? He kind of looked like Morgan Freeman, like the real Morgan Freeman, if you were to see him just living his day to day life like in the grocery store or something, not the camera/lights/makeup enhanced version. Though I’m not really sure if people like Morgan Freeman get their own groceries… Don’t they have people to do that for them? Or do people misplace them in that day to day environment, not even noticing who’s in front of them in the checkout line?

    “Go home, kid!” The bus driver barked from the front, but then he laughed in this strange cackle that should be a lot louder. The kid fist bumped him before tossing his skateboard onto the sidewalk and taking off, which made me think they probably weren’t mad at each other after all. I double checked the identification paper behind the driver’s seat. Mark Harris. Serving the community since 2002. 2002? Holy cow! You mean to tell me he’s been driving this bus since that kid was in diapers? I’d always thought it was more of a transitory job…

    “Dear, isn’t this your stop?” The old lady beside me tapped my arm and pointed out the window.

    “Oh, crap!” I jolted, pulling on the emergency cord, but it was too late and the bus was already lurching back onto the street. I missed the stop once before and it took me twenty minutes to walk back from the next mark.

    I turned to the woman, trying to bite my tongue since it wasn’t her fault I wasn’t paying attention, and then a weird feeling came over me, and I sat back down. “Take this route often?”

    She looked surprised, and then grinned so wide I could see the metal caps on her back bottom teeth. “Every Friday and Sunday! My daughter works in the city, and if I don’t go I’d never get to see her.”

    “What do you guys do on your weekends?”

    “Oh we do lots of things! There’s church on Sabbath and afternoon walks in the park – she has a little mutt of a dog. Well, I guess it’s not really a mutt because she spent a ridiculous amount of money on it, but it’s one of those mini-mixes animals, what do you call them? Maltipoo? Anyway,”

    She put her hand on mind and used it to gesture with her story, and I sat, oblivious to the bus’ destination, thinking, maybe I wouldn’t charge my iPod tonight.

  14. (Congrats on your upcoming book & projects & son's marriage Laurie. Thank you for your coordination of this daily call to honor our ideas. And agreed – a trumpet sound on the conch horn for our saltwater naiad, Diana! – I wrote a poem this morning for my daily minutes, which went longer than 15,  fueled by her example. Here in FL you run into those all the time who say, it's too hot to do anything this time of year. 

    Trumpet Call for the Saltwater Naiad

    (blast of a conch horn)


    On Smathers Beach

    it’s too hot, too hot

    The swimmer stood

    it’s too hot, too hot


    The fifty hours of salt sting

    it’s too hot, too hot

    Body transformed to water wings

    it’s too hot, too hot


    Old headlines blared




    too hot, too hot


    The naiad’s Nyad

    she won’t rest

    too hot, too hot


    Back to the water

    She has her say

    A mantra –

    “Find a way”

    “Find a way”


    The crowd exults

    The conch horn blasts

    The saltwater naiad 

    among the landbound at last


    “Find a way”

    “Find  a way”

    blast of a conch horn)

    – Jan Godown Annino


  15. I'm late to the game over here, but I've written the past 3 days — way longer than 15 minutes. I made a commitment with 3 other bloggers to post every day in September. Thanks for the prompts, because I might need some fresh ideas. I look forward to checking in here every day to see what some of you are writing. Thanks for doing this.

    If you're interested, my blog is here:

  16. Yay for Diana Nyad, a new hero!

    I am so glad you are doing this again this year.

    My writing has been grinding down to a halt in recent months. I know I shouldn't pretend it's not bothering me or that it's going away by itself, which is why I am using this challenge to make myself write to explore. Not pretty, but even just these two days have yielded some insight.

  17. Day 3 was ugly but I did it….. I defied the laws of physics and managed to take an hour to do 15 minutes work. I also learned that I have to cut out the distractions to get it done. Duh, I know, but it's still a good reminder for me.

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