Writing 101, Day One: Unlock the Mind

Welcome to Writing 101. In this inaugural assignment, let’s loosen up and just write. We’re so excited you’ve joined us — let’s get started!

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

— Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic

On The Daily Post, we try to instill a daily blogging habit in each of our readers. We’ve gotten to know many of you — your avatars, your blogs — and are reminded each day that our community is full of many different stories and voices.

Some of you want to take your craft of writing to the next level — you might be a seasoned daily prompter ready for something more, or want to experiment with different aspects of storytelling, from considering your setting and point of view, to developing your characters and dialogue.

So, welcome to Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit. In these twenty days, we’ll dive into the elements of storytelling, help you cut through writer’s block and — as Natalie Goldberg teaches — access the pure thoughts and ideas of your wild mind.

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

Also, here’s the official Writing 101 badge for your June 2014 course (original size / small size) to display on your blog. If you need instructions, check out this image widget support page.

Happy writing!

Remember: if you choose to publish what you write today, do so on your own blog. Feel free to leave a link on The Commons, seek feedback there, or just visit to chat and make friends, but your challenge posts should go on your blog.

If you registered on Friday or over the weekend, you’ll receive your welcome email and Commons access today.


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  1. I cannot see these posts (well this one) via The Commons. Can I be added? I signed up a few weeks back.

    But, on topic, I’m looking forward to trying today’s exercise.


    1. Hi Aly, I edited your comment above to link to your post — the link you’d shared was to your post in your dashboard, so readers wouldn’t have been able to see it as they would need to log in to your blog.


      1. Can you tell me how to get the assignments linked from my blog to this or the commons? I have no idea what I’m doing and unless you go to my blog, no one can offer any feedback on my posts, and that’s what I’m looking for.


      2. You can copy the link to your post and paste it into a new post on The Commons. Or, you can paste that link into a comment here.

        To get that link to your post, go to your blog and click on your post’s title. Then, in your browser bar, you’ll have the link. For example, clicking on your most recent post title gives me this URL in Chrome’s address bar:

        You can copy and paste that in a comment here, or in The Commons, if you prefer. To get good feedback, ask a specific question related to the type of feedback you’d like.


      1. Thanks. By the way, was wondering what’s the difference between Writing 101 and Blogging 101? Wasn’t sure if I should sign up because the last time I signed up for Blogging 101 I was very busy and unable to consistently do the assignments. I hope it’s not too late to register if I conclude that this course is for me…


    1. In Writing 101, we’ll focus on building a writing habit, experiment with different modes of writing, and explore various elements of the craft (Blogging 101 was a broad curriculum on all things blogging, including the technical aspects). While you can publish a post each day during Writing 101, it’s not mandatory — in fact, we set up all our challenges so you can do whatever you’d like, at your own pace.

      You can publish your posts on your blog each day, or just practice on writing and keep your drafts/revisions to yourself. Up to you.

      You have until this Friday to register:


      1. Thank you so much! I love how it’s flexible so I can do challenges based on my own pace. I just registered so I’m looking forward to the experience. Thanks again Cheri 🙂


    1. so by IST- 7:30PM a topic is shared. There are no hard fast timelines but the next prompt will be shared at the same time next day. so you have 24 hours for a post!


    2. There is no daily deadline — feel free to post a response on your blog anytime during the day. (Or take your time on a particular response and post it whenever you’d like.) There will be assignments each day, and you can go at your own pace.


  2. Hello! Excited to begin anew with another great course and meet new people in this amazing community I am discovering more and more each day. I have a new post on my blog, and while it is not quite stream of consciousness it meant a lot to me. I wanted to share how amazing two people in my team are and wanted to let them know how much they are appreciated. Hope you guys enjoy! Here is the link to the post:

    As always send any feedback you may have! Looking forward to meeting you all! This is so much fun!


  3. Wow, I can’t even say how glad I am to be back and taking another awesome course by these great instructors. That 20 minutes honestly flew by. I ended up going in a totally different direction than I ever thought I would! Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, along with some new ones! Good luck everyone! 🙂


  4. I’m a little stressed because I joined this challenge and through a course of personal events have severely limited time internet access this week. For some reason this prompt didn’t come to my email and it took several minutes of digging to find it. Going to try to get something composed and posted, but it would be a lot easier if the prompt came to my email as promised. I even checked my spam–nothing there either. Any advice?


    1. Hi there — did you receive any other Daily Post emails today (the daily prompt, the Weekly Writing Challenge: A Lost Art)?

      Have you received emails from other blogs you’re email-subscribed to?


    1. That’s great — you just dove in, and played with POV and dialogue. And no, there is no right way to have done this.

      I’m reminded of my semesters in my screenwriting program in college — just getting all these random conversations in my head, and then bringing the voices and characters to life onto paper.

      Thanks for joining us!


  5. Again, I guess I’m confused. I had understood that this challenge was a process of creating a new blog post each day. Am I in the wrong forum? I did my free write–something I truly hate doing as I tend to edit as I write. I would never post something that raw on my blog. What do we do next? I don’t have time to do another piece of writing for my day, so I guess I won’t have a new blog post today as I had hoped.


    1. Writing 101 will focus on building a writing habit and experimenting with writing/elements of the craft. You can interpret each day as you see fit. Today’s introduction was a little different in that I simply wanted you to get loose and let go, with the option of publishing your free thoughts. (There will be a few more free writes this month, just FYI.) You can publish anything you write in response to any of our assignments this month (or not — up to you).

      If you don’t have time to do another piece, no worries — just don’t publish anything. (I sometimes see others write/publish about how they disliked a prompt, rather than respond to the prompt itself.)