I Remember

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to…

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.

To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post, to generate a pingback and help others find the challenges. Please make sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed on Friday, and in our monthly newsletter.

Athletes and musicians are two types of people who practice to get better at what they do. Author Natalie Goldberg insists that writers need regular (ideally daily) practice to get better at their craft, too. This writing practice revelation blew my self-imposed myth of inspiration into a billion microscopic fragments. I can no longer say my muse ran off to Saskatchewan in the middle of the night. I can no longer tell myself I’m waiting on inspiration to drop, like some sort of cartoon anvil. I just have to sit down and start writing. And do it again the next day. And the next.

Permission to practice

Have you ever avoided writing because you just knew that today, everything you wrote would stink like something a week dead as the contents of your hopelessly uncreative mind gibbered, weeping pus and snot all over your screen, bereft of even simple declarative sentences? Goldberg suggests rejecting judgement and writing practice as a way to warm up, to “train” as a writer. As a runner puts in time on the road to achieve their mileage goals, you need to spend time simply writing, just allowing the writing to flow on to the page or screen — not judging the output, saving revision for later.

“Through practice you actually do get better. You learn to trust your deep self more and not to give in to that voice that wants to avoid writing.”

— Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones

The challenge: I remember

You’ll need an egg timer or a some sort of stopwatch for this challenge. Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes, choose one of the writing prompts below, and just start writing. Whatever you do, don’t stop for ten minutes. Keep your fingers typing. Write what you remember. It need not be accurate — it’s your memory. Do not judge. You got this.

  • Your earliest memory. Capture every detail. Document the quality of the memory — is it as sharp as HDTV or hazy and ethereal, enveloped in fog? Write for 10 minutes. Go.
  • Your happiest memory. Tell us the story of the happiest memory of your life. What happened? Get it all down, no detail left behind. The clock is ticking — get writing.
  • Your worst memory. Record the pain, the anger, the shame, the terror, the hurt. You’ve got ten minutes to relive it. Keep your fingers typing.
  • Freestyle memory. Write I remember at the top of your post, hit start on the timer, and write about the first memory that comes to mind. Ten minutes. Don’t stop.

If ten minutes feels too long, start with five minutes. If ten minutes seems too short, go for 15 or 20 minutes. You can shape this challenge to suit you. Then, once your post has had a chance to sit for a day or two, revise it and shape it as you see fit. Cut the dross. Trim the fat.

You can do the freestyle memory exercise every day if you like, as you mine your memory and write what comes to mind. Use the freestyle memory prompt or any other of our Daily Writing Prompts and go for ten minutes without stopping. Don’t judge the output, just keep practicing.

Also of interest

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  1. Well, this was fun! I used the ‘earliest memory’ prompt, set my timer, and it worked! I got a blog post written in 10 minutes… well I edited for about 10 minutes more, but still. That’s a record for me. And, guess what I learned. I don’t need to WAIT for my muse to arrive to lead me by the hand. Writing in and of itself can be an inspiration! ta da! Thank you for this challenge. It’s definitely what I needed. Here’s my entry:


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