31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes Challenge (completed 10/29/17)
This post is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes Challenge. Scroll down for the links and the graphic showing the prompts for the month.
It will be pinned to the top of the page until the end of the month. Check back for updates on the prompts. I may write several at a time and update just a couple of times a week. I seriously considered not posting any at all until all 31 were written. But that seemed like a long time to let myself possibly get behind. So I will post at least once a week. FiveMinuteFriday posts will be posted separately as they have been.
1 worship: I was not brought up to worship in a church or really to worship at all. Not that it was discouraged, but it wasn’t encouraged either. I never went to church regularly until about a year before we got married. We stopped going when our oldest was about a year old because it got to be too stressful to get both of us and the little guy up, dressed and ready and get there on time for the service. So it has basically been twenty-six years since I attended church with any regularity. I have attended church services a couple dozen times in the years since then, but never really found a church and a minister who inspired me to want to attend weekly. I’m not saying that any of the churches or ministers I have been to or heard preach were bad. I just appreciate the opportunity to sleep in on the weekends when I can and find it easy to worship in my own way every minute of every day. I don’t feel the need to be inside a church to worship my Lord. I worship Him through the books I read, the music I listen to and prayers sent up throughout each day.
2 tell: If walls could talk, oh the tales they would tell. Have you ever wondered about the tales the walls of historic buildings could tell us if we would but listen? Do you have stories you could tell about the walls you have lived within? How have the stories changed from the time you were a child and living under your parents’ roof to now as an adult responsible for proving the roof over your own head? Can you tell these stories by writing them out? Think of the walls as silent witnesses to all the goings on inside any given room. How has the purpose of that room changed over the years? You know how some storefronts have housed numerous different sorts of business over your lifetime, think of the stories those walls could tell. As I drive around the city I grew up in and have always lived in I think about all of the public school buildings either standing vacant or being used for a purpose other than housing a school.
3 create: I find myself re-evaluating whether or not I am a creative person. I used to think of myself as not at all creative, but as I have gotten more comfortable calling myself a writer, I have come to realize that I create all the time. I create recipes, I create room layouts, I create book characters, I create graphics for my blog posts, I am constantly creating something, so I am a creative person. I don’t particularly think of myself as an artist, but even that I suppose is an erroneous assumption. A writer is an artist who paints pictures with words, and that may be more difficult for some than painting a picture with any artistic medium would be. Lately, I have given a great deal of thought to creating the life I want to live and how I might go about doing that. I am still hung up on figuring out just what that life would even look like, but I know that writing will always be a big part of the life I want to live.
4 hope: I find hope in Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
I know that no matter what I plan in my life, God’s plans for me will be better. That doesn’t mean carrying out those plans will be easy, most of the time it is just the opposite. I know He will be there for me to talk to and lean on the whole time. When all hope is lost it is unlikely you will want to go on, with anything. I cannot imagine living in a world without hope. Hope that wars will end forever. Hope that the need for prisons will diminish greatly. Hope for aid after natural disasters. Hope for good, honest politicians in our future. Hope for cures for cancer and many other diseases. Hope that the sun will shine and you will wake up tomorrow. There is so much to hope for in this world.
5 trust: Trust is a difficult thing in the world today. The person living next door always seems perfectly normal until one day the news vans and police are at their house and the neighbors all go on record saying how they would never have suspected the nice man next door was making porn or selling crack or dicing up little old ladies or whatever.
A little trust goes a long way. I like to think I trust people until they give me a good reason not to trust them anymore. Now I don’t get too carried away and do stupid things. Mom once told me that even though the people who work in your office are very nice honest people even the most honest will be tempted to snag some candy if you leave it in the jar on your desk. If they know you have a coin stash for the vending machine, they may “borrow” from it in a pinch with the very best of intentions to pay you back and then forget to ever do it. She said you shouldn’t tempt people like that. If you don’t mean to share it, lock it up or take it home with you. I do trust most people but have never been comfortable leaving cash out in plain sight or adding my lunch to the community break room refrigerator. I prefer to bring my lunch in a lunch bag with an ice pack that will keep it cool until lunchtime.
7 hold: Hold that thought. Yeah, right. The way my over-50 mind works these days, I’m lucky if I even remember I was talking to you, let alone know what we were talking about. If I have a thought pop into my head, I know I had better either blurt it out or write it down, because I will never remember it otherwise. I can hold on to hope that I will remember things, but I usually don’t. Long-term I am fine with, but short term…that is like short attention span theater. I hold onto the hope of my dreams coming true and that everything works out according to God’s plan. If all else fails, I pray God will help me remember anything that is really important, at least until I have the chance to write it down.
8 truth: The truth is very important to me. For me, truth and trust go hand in hand. I will trust you to tell me the truth until I catch you in a lie. After you lie to me, it will take me a long time to ever trust you again.
I was raised, with the ideal that it was always best, to tell the truth, and take the consequences of your actions. If you always plan to tell the truth, then you will find yourself doing things you won’t need to lie about later. Be trustworthy at all times by consistently speaking the truth. Now, I’m not advocating that you lie if you find yourself in the awkward situation where you have to tell someone, “Yes those patterned stretch leggings DO make your butt look fat.” Perhaps you could find a truthful way to discourage them without hurting their feelings. “I love the print but I think it would look better as a top instead of bottoms.” is much less negative and destructive than saying, “You should never wear spandex leggings because they will make you look even fatter than you already are.” One seems much more like a direct attack on the person than the other. I think you can tell the truth without saying every nasty thought that pops into your head. Stop and think before you blurt out the whole hurtful truth to someone and find the kinder, gentler was to be truthful without being destructive.
9 plan: I have a plan. The plan involves me spending the week while I am on vacation planning the novel I will write for NaNoWriMo in November. I plan to outline it so well that I can actually finish writing a well-structured novel from start to finish in 30 days. I know I can write the 50,000 words required to “win” NaNoWriMo. I have done that the past four Novembers, but I have yet to finish one of the novels I have started. So this year the plan is different. I want to plan it so well, that I can fly through the writing of the 50,000 words and keep going until the outlined novel is finished with a beginning, middle and end. That is the plan, so check back and encourage me or hold me accountable throughout the month of November. I really need your help to do this.
10 listen: Have you ever stopped making noise long enough that you could listen to the world around you? What did you hear? How did that make you feel? I heard the sound earlier today of sweeping. A strange sound I am not used to hearing or paying attention to because I am usually the one doing the sweeping. It turns out that one of the housekeeping staff at the Heavenly Inn was sweeping the sidewalks outside our doors. It is good practice to listen and try to identify what you hear. I like to almost make a game of it and always want to know how close to correct I was with my guesses.
11 remember: Remember when we were young and we could wander the neighborhood without fear? Remember when it was alright to ride in the back of large 8 and 9 passenger station wagons without seat belts? My parents used the area where the third row of seats was folded down to put two foam baby bed sized mattresses that we could sleep or play on while we were on family road trips. One of my favorite places to ride in the big station wagons on a long trip was in the footwells right behind the front seat with my back leaned up against one of the doors and my bent knees up over the hump between the footwells. There was plenty of room to stretch out and read a book and the view from down that low was always beautiful clouds, treetops, and sunny skies.
Remember when we played 8-track tapes and 33rmp and 45 rmp records? Houses were seldom air conditioned back then and there were no internet or cell phones.
Sometimes remembering how it used to be, makes us long for the good old days, but at other times it makes me very thankful for the advent of new technology to make my life cooler and easier. I could never give up air-conditioning, internet or cell phones now.
What do you remember that today’s generation missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.
12 write: I never liked to write in grade school or even high school, not much in college either. I couldn’t tell you what we were asked to write back then. The one thing I remember is my HistLish class (History and English combined). Our test in that class were always blue books. Maybe Mrs. Dever thought she was getting us prepared to write blue book exams in college, but these were pure torture to me. I most likely have Mrs. Dever to thank for the ability to express myself with the written word. Now I am experimenting with lots of different kinds of writing. I cannot imagine my life without writing anymore. Right now, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read what I took the time to write. It means a lot to me to know others take the time to read my posts. If you find any value at all in my blog posts, I hope you will share them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
14 try: When I sit down to write these Five Minute Friday one word prompts, it is difficult sometimes to know what to write. Sometimes I just have to silence the inner editor and try to write whatever jumps into my mind. I tell myself it doesn’t have to be perfect and it will only take 5 minutes. So, no excuses, just do it. At least try. Set the time for 5 minutes and write until the timer goes off. I usually spend another 5 minutes getting rid of the red squiggles under half the words because I was trying to type too fast. I find it freeing to just try. If it doesn’t come out right I can always set the timer and write for another five minutes on the same word and post that version instead. The point is to try, and so far I have never felt the need to try any given word a second time. Five minutes is so freeing. You should give it a try even if you have no inclination or desire to post what you have written. You could randomly pick a word from the dictionary each day and write for 5 minutes about that word in your journal. You just never know what might come of those few minutes spent writing.
15 remain: Wow, remain! Once you get your thoughts down on “paper” (or screen) all that remains is deciding who will be allowed to see what you have written. Some are too private to share and will remain hidden to all but you. Others you may decide need to be shared with the world, perhaps they will become your social media status for the day. Maybe a few will ask to be expanded into something a bit longer and more in depth. Don’t remain stuck in the life you had, try something new to challenge yourself. Share your thoughts with the world or remain hidden inside yourself. It is your choice to make. Good luck!
16 read: I love to read. I grew up reading constantly. I can still hear mom yelling at my older sister and I, “You girls get your noses out of those books and come help me clean the house!”. She usually did this on a Saturday morning when we were laying on our unmade beds reading one book or another. It has always been a way to escape into another world, not always better, but different than the one I currently inhabit. It was kind of a way to try on someone else’s life for the time it took me to read the book. I have discovered I really like reading books on my phone or Nook, because any book can be a large print book when my eyes get tired but I don’t want to stop reading yet. I have also come to enjoy listening to audiobooks occasionally.
I “read” the most awesome book recently. Well, you guessed it, I really listened to it because that was the only version my library had and I was searching for a new audiobook to download to my phone and this one coincidently showed up and was available. The book is When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life by Squire Rushnell. I found it very enjoyable and thought-provoking. I started making my own list of coincidences that God had engineered in my life.
Click on the book cover for an affiliate link to the book:
17 grow: I am not a gardener, I do not grow things, not in the traditional sense anyway. I grew two children into responsible adults. I grow words into stories, some fiction and some non-fiction. I grow hats from yarn. Eventually, the hats get donated to the homeless and grow warmth in those less fortunate. I grow connections with new friends I meet while going about my life. I grow hope when I encourage others. I am not a gardener, but I do grow things, just not things planted in the ground.
18 share: What do I share? I share my words with the world via this blog. I share the wisdom and knowledge that I have gained in my fifty-one years residing on planet earth. I share my minuscule talent for crocheting hats with the homeless. I share my presence with others who create with yarn at the three monthly meetings I try to attend faithfully. I share food with my family in the form of meals lovingly prepared. I share my knowledge and skills at work by doing my job well. I share my opinion more often that I should I suppose, but I can’t make anyone listen, so maybe that doesn’t count. I share my faith by writing inspirational Christian fiction. I try to share what I can with anyone I meet who may need what I can share.
19 brave: Being brave is not something I think of myself. Others have pointed out that getting on an airplane makes me braver than some.
Going out to yarn meetups where everyone there is a total stranger is brave according to others, but I have never been sorry I took the first brave step and attended one of these yarn gatherings. I always leave feeling like I have been a part of the group forever and promising to return the next month. I find myself looking forward to the next meeting too. That doesn’t really seem brave, I mean what is going to happen? The gals at these meetings are just knitters or crocheters like me, just looking for a group of like minded people they can practice their craft with and make connections with.
I have been brave I suppose in attempting to win NaNoWriMo each November, but I have met tons of writers that way all because I was brave enough to look up where they NaNo participants would be gathering and showing up as nervous as everyone else. I have discovered I enjoy writing. Is it brave when I think of characters and settings and a half-baked plot and then put them together? I don’t think the writing of the story is brave, but rather the editing to the point of being willing to share the story with others and attempt publication. That would be brave.
21 give: What do I give? I give my opinion, whether requested or not. I give my time crocheting hats for the homeless or other charities. I give my attention to a good book, to The Good Book when I read. I give insight into my thought when I write. I give a little of myself when I share a blog post or video with the world. I give advice when asked, but try to do so only when asked, and that is so hard sometimes. I give thought to what I can, will and do write about and that isn’t always easy. I give fear the heave when I tackle things that scare me. I give up a little more f my fear each time I do something I am not naturally comfortable doing, like flying or meeting new people I might actually see again. Oddly enough talking to strangers I know I will likely never see again doesn’t bother me at all. I give and give some more.
22 light: Nothing makes you appreciate light like a darkly lit restaurant when an old gal like me has trouble seeing the menu. The light in a poorly lit hotel room where there is no place to read with decent lighting makes me appreciate the light. How spoiled are we to get to just flip a switch and have light? How different our lives would be without light, both the physical kind that aids our vision and the spiritual kind that guides our path through life. When the light gets dim, I can pull out my cell phone and use the flashlight app to illuminate a menu so I can make a wise choice on what to order. When the light I call hope gets dim, we can go to The Bible to find the light we need to guide us again.
23 work: This past week, work was not something I had to think about because I was on vacation. A couple of times it crossed my mind, but just enough to wonder if there were any problems I should have been there to handle. Then I would stop myself and remind myself that I was on vacation and my mind deserved the vacation just as much as the rest of me and that I should leave work at work and that it would be there waiting when I got back and I would deal with everything then.
I don’t mind the work so much as the situation I have to do the work in. I hear some folks say they wouldn’t know how to fill their days if not for work. I think that is sad. Jobs come and go and if your life is defined by your work, then perhaps you need to get a hobby or meet some friends that are not associated with your work. I feel like work gets in the way of all the other things I want to be doing and feel I should be doing. Work is something I give my all to while I am there but life is too short to spend your non-working hours focused on your job as well. There are infinite ways one can spend their free time helping those less fortunate. Find a charity you believe in or that needs help and volunteer to help them. Perhaps you could use the talents you have developed that enable you to do your job well to aid a local charity. There are many kinds of work, and not all of them include a paycheck.
24 revise: Revise is not one of my favorite words. I like to do as Mom said and try to get things right the first time. She said, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you find time to do it again?”
I have trouble with my writing because I always want to go back and correct all the words with red squiggles under them right away. I really can’t stop myself. It just sort of happens.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the novels I have written, I don’t really know how to revise them except for correcting the obvious misspelled words and typos. Like all things having to do with writing I am reading and learning and trying to apply what I learn so I can do better next time.
25 because: If you have kids who have made it into the ages they need to be to attend traditional schools, you have likely made it through the “Why?” stage. When a preschooler begins asking “Why?” to everything you say, the word “Because.” or even the typical parent phrase, “Because I said so, that’s why!” come in very handy. I recall going through this stage with my nephew Brian. I think he was about 4 years old at the time. We were young newlyweds and living for a short time with the in-laws because the house we tried to buy got pulled off the market while we were on our honeymoon, but that is another story. My mother-in-law ran a home daycare and her grandkids were three of her charges. I offered to take Brian along on errands since he was there while his sisters were in school. We went to the neighborhood market called Atlas for something if I recall. He asked questions constantly. When I would answer, he would invariably ask, “Why?” I think by the time our errands were finished and I had returned him safely to his grandmother, I was half-crazy and entirely cured of thinking half-pint company would be fun. If you have never been through this stage, trust me, avoid it like the plague. Why? Because I said so!
26 change: At various times in my life, I have participated in a fundraiser called “Change for Change”. This is basically where you save all of you pocket change to donate to the chosen charity. Most people don’t miss the change they drop in the container each day and it keeps their purse from getting heavy. You can also use the same premise for saving for things you want but can’t afford. Need a new laptop? Save your change and roll it up monthly. Before you know it, you’ll have enough saved and you will be proud of yourself for not going into debt to buy it. So, what good could you do with a little change?
28 connect: One of the best reasons to go to writing events or classes is the chance to connect with other writers. When you spend time with strangers who are like-minded, you benefit from their knowledge and enthusiasm as much as they benefit from yours. While I still think of myself as a beginner in the writing world, meeting others helps me to see the progress I have made in the four years I have been writing. As we each share the things we do or know, we find out that we are not beginners, we have experience and knowledge to share with our peers who are closer to beginners than we are. These connections with other writers are great. It is like building your own team of cheerleaders who understand what you are going through and are there to cheer you on when you just want to quit. So don’t miss any chance to learn about your chosen craft, especially when it will also give you a chance to meet and connect with other writers.
29 follow: I was recently asked several questions I couldn’t answer about entering writing contests. I told the person who asked that everything they were asking would most likely be answered in the rules and instructions for submitting an entry to the specific contest.
The most important thing is to be sure to follow all the instructions and guidelines because when it comes to contests, they are looking for any way to narrow the pool of participants down and from what I have been given to believe, following instructions, or rather not following them exactly is the fastest way to be disqualified from the contest. So, if they bother to write out rules, regulations, guidelines and/or instructions, make sure you follow them. Anything else is just a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time and energy.
That being said, if you know of any legitimate writing contests with serious prizes and no or very low entry fees that this writer could submit to where either critique of my work or possible publication is an option, please don’t keep them to yourself. Feel free to post links to legit contests in the comments or email them to me directly through my contact page. Thanks!
30 refine: When we, as writers, begin to edit our stories, we do so in hopes of refining them from the steaming pile of excrement we wrote in a hurry into something precise that conveys our ideas in the beautiful way we first imagined them in our heads. Some synonyms for refine include: improve, perfect, hone, fine-tune or polish. That seems like a lot of pressure for the author. It is difficult to know what should stay or what should go. Which words need to be removed and which need to be replaced with slightly different potentially better words. Refining your work is hard, but when done well, it is worth it.
31 rest: Rest is the thing most mothers need most. No matter how much sleep we get, it just never seems to be enough. Apparently, we sleep in 90 minute cycles, so we should be trying to get some number of these complete cycles a night. The book Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson indicates that we should sleep from 10pm to 2am at the very least as that is the really crucial time to be asleep. That explains a lot since I have always had the terrible habit of staying up way too late and often miss getting at least half of those specific hours each night. As I have aged, I have realized that my body is more sensitive to things like caffeine and light when it comes to falling asleep or getting back to sleep after getting up in the middle of the night. I know that getting proper rest is important and it has been one of my goals for a very long time. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break.
Click on the book cover for an affiliate link to the book:
It feels good to know that I have completed this challenge. While I did not choose to write one entry each day or post each entry in a separate blog post, I did try to stick to writing for just 5 minutes on each entry.
This post is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.
Here’s how it works:
You’ll only need to link up once for the whole challenge. You can also link up on the main Write 31 Days website at www.write31days.com.
You write for five minutes flat on the prompt of the day, then post on your blog (or Instagram or Facebook account). Repeat every day until November.