Here are ten writing exercises that will take about thirty seconds each. The aim is not to create a masterpiece or change your entire writing life–the aim is to write for at least thirty seconds.
Also, for children in the Jot It Down or Partnership Writing stages, parents should feel free to transcribe their kids’ thoughts for 30-seconds.
Pick an exercise, set the timer, and GO!
1. One Sense
Sit down and pick ONE of your senses–sight, smell, hearing, taste, or touch. Then describe everything you feel with that sense, right now. Do you see the sky out of the window and your dogs on the sofa? Do you hear the clock ticking and traffic outside? Whichever sense you choose, write down as much detail as possible in thirty seconds. Go!
Put on a song you love and write as the first thirty seconds play. How does it make you feel? Happy, sad, moved, inspired, impassioned? Why do you like it? Do you have strong memories linked with that song? Jot it down.
3. One word
Open a dictionary, close your eyes, pick a random word, and write about it. Go on, see how much you can write about one word in thirty seconds. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s great or silly or you think it’s a beautiful word that everyone should use in every conversation. Write it!
4. Special memory
Pick a favorite memory, a day that was special to you. Why was it special? What did you do? Who was there with you? What was the best moment? List those out.
5. Sum it up
Think about the previous day of your life and sum it up in one phrase. Something like “Best day ever,” “A total drag,” or “Dull but productive.” Then do the same for the day before yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, until you run out of time.
Write a sentence of five words. Now quickly change the sentence one word at a time. For example:
“I love my fluffy cat.”
“I love my fluffy slippers.”
“I lost my fluffy slippers.”
“I miss my fluffy slippers.”
See where it takes you in half a minute!
7. A conversation
Pick up two nearby objects, put them side by side, and write a short conversation between the two of them. What would your pencil case say to your hairbrush if they were in love? What would an argument between your pen and your eraser be like? Or imagine that they met for the first time.
8. Forward in time
What do you plan to do as soon as you’re done writing? Then what after that? And after that? Keep going till the timer stops.
9. One letter
Pick the letter of the alphabet that your name begins with then write down ten different words that begin with that letter. Give your vocabulary a 30-second workout!
10. It’s a fact
Write a fact about yourself–the more interesting, the better. Then change ONE word. For example, “I love wearing hats” could become “I hate wearing hats,” or “I love wearing earrings.” Once you’ve got your new statement, write down a name you like that’s not yours. That is the name of a character you’ve just created.
Enjoy! Later you might expand some of these freewrites into writing projects.