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I Remember

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

  • Ready to write? We’ll give you a new challenge each Monday. Publish a new post on your blog that interprets the challenge. Include a pingback and we’ll list your post below. Learn More

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.
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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. interesting but doesn’t work for my method of writing… I only write when I have something to say… I don’t dabble in dribble… I try to produce quality each time pen touches paper…quantity doesn’t matter to me… also I don’t edit… I write stream of consciousness and my aim is to capture the raw essence of my topic, this cannot be done by polishing…

      1. not so much really I tend to work on a few pieces simultaneously… I tend to flip back and forth between pieces as I write, if I don’t do this what I write doesn’t make sense… I really don’t know how to explain it… I do however attempt to hone my craft… every time I set out to produce something it is with the intention that it will in some ways be better than the last thing I wrote… I understand that this is not possible but it is my ambition every time that pen touches paper or fingertips tap keys…

    1. I actually thought this were a great idea. Because writing sometimes/ Most of the time can be fun an loved. It comes from our memories from the past which we lived life. some may have more memories full of joy or maybe pain. We never know because we all live our own lives. I believe this were perfect because a great writer can relate to any prompt/ topic

  2. i was a dancer most of my life, so i find the discipline transferable to writing….the dancer’s day always always always includes class: barre work to warm up, centre exercise, adagio, pirouettes across the floor, petite allegro, grande allegro, then finishing with the grand waltz.
    that’s the warm up.
    then on to rehearsals, or to choreograph and rehearse later, perhaps a pointe class.
    it doesn’t matter how famous a dancer you are, this IS the drill. but this also involves lots of other people, teachers, etc. when you’re alone, facing that page day after day, it’s challenging. in a rehearsal there’s a choreographer telling you what to do and if what you’re doing is the ticket. the only way a writer knows if their work is acceptable is when the piece is submitted.
    i journal to start off the day as a warm up to writing. and if that doesn’t work, i take the letter “a” and write every word i can think of starting with “a.” then onto “b”, etc. this exercise gets me out of my logical head space and into a more literary one–simple, but it works.
    thanks for the great article….
    http://keeneworks.com/

      1. and when i’m really desperate, i’ll cruise through books i’ve read and type out the highlighted passages. last month i finished reading “The Journals of John Cheever” and spent 2 days going through his brilliant/devastating work:
        “There is a degree of mensongerie in some of our loves, but this seems most exaggerated in the love of men. Chucky was a runner-up in some three-rounded provincial golden-gloves contest eighteen years ago, but he now swaggers around the steam room like the winner he never was; and the lovers he mounts, young or old, seem to feel the transported to the manly world of fighters. It is al though some old whore claimed to have been the centerfold in the most golden days of Playboy. She would’t make any such claim. And so we have an enlarged–and, i think, unsavory–element of delusion and regret. We are all, sooner or later, shadows, but we are not overwhlemed.”

  3. I like the topic, but then again it’s pretty close to what I do anyway. The only difference is that I count revision towards “daily writing” and only compose new material when I’m felling inspired.

  4. This could be a fun activity for pair instead of individuals. Each writes their own account of a shared memory or experience, and then at the end of ten minutes you contrast the two. Thanks for the challenge.

  5. It is hard to “pick out” a topic about memories, there are so many, and then to write them down and hit that Publish button. It’s a commitment to wanting to write but a tough one.

    1. Writing is all about remembrance it doesn’t have to deeply thought out we all have pain an joy in our own ways because we all our humans. Sometimes we just have to embrace ourselves an just on back in time in our minds. Hope i helped

  6. This is great, I definitely will share this on my page. As a former collegiate and international softball player I agree that practice is necessary to perfect any craft. Being that I’m new to the blogging world I am realizing that it is very important to practice writing, especially if you desire to reach a range of readers. Your brain as well as the rest of your body should be challenged. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Reblogged this on normandtheriault and commented:
    This is very true. Once I tried to write a music review every day for a year. I ended up quitting after two months, but what I learned in the process was quite valuable. I learned how to trust my critical instincts.

188 Responses Ready to write? To participate, publish a post on your blog that responds to the prompt. Include a pingback and we’ll list your post below. Learn More