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Lunch Posts

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end we’re all storytellers. Writing Challenges help you push your…

  • 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. Writing Challenges help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and styles.

To participate, read the challenge instructions and write at least one post in response. Tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post to generate a pingback. Make sure your post has been specifically published in response to this challenge. We might just highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed on Fridays, or in our monthly newsletter.

As a teenager, my first job was in a food court on the Ocean City, New Jersey boardwalk. The mornings were slow and spent prepping for the inevitable lunch rush. During those quiet moments, I often found myself watching our customers. The married couple who were clearly fighting and sitting at separate tables. The family with the sullen teenager sulking over a slice of pizza. The joyful students just visiting for a day to work on their tans. People watching, even when on the job, is excellent fodder for writing. 

A Literary Side Dish

During my breaks, I’d often grab one of the notebooks I took orders on and would scribble down a few words. Years later, I came across the poet Frank O’Hara and his Lunch PoemsIn 1959, O’Hara wrote in Adieu to Norman, Bonjour to Joan and Jean-Paul:

It is 12:10 in New York and I am wondering
if I will finish this in time to meet Norman for lunch
ah lunch! I think I am going crazy
what with my terrible hangover and the weekend coming up

In just a few lines, O’Hara captures the nervousness and frenzy of daily life in New York City, balancing social plans and the desire to catch a break over a meal with friends. Over the course of roughly 10 years, from 1953 to 1964, O’Hara scribbled down these daily observations in Lunch Poems. Most of his pieces were about New York City, his life and friends, pop cultural references of the time, and many of these poems were written during his lunch hour. It’s been said that O’Hara arguably took a more casual and informal approach to the fine craft of writing, writing down his observational pieces when the mood struck him.

There’s an element of freedom that comes with eschewing expectations and letting the words come to you when you have a free moment, whether that be five or 50 minutes of your own, personal time. A snippet of a paragraph here, a short poem there, until the work builds upon itself and you have a brief remembrance of the moment in time you etched down in your own words.

Take a Bite Out of This Week’s Challenge

For this week’s writing challenge, take a cue from O’Hara and write a short(er) post during your lunch hour. During this limited period of time, take a look at your surroundings and document what you see.

  • Are your coworkers dancing around the office, rushing to and fro with purpose?
  • Are you waiting in line for your food, when the family in front of you offers some endearing gesture to their little ones?
  • Or are you at home with your own children, and can’t help but notice the way the afternoon light glimmers on your son or daughter’s face while eating their lunch?

If you’re feeling ambitious, aim to write additional posts during your break, up to every day if you’re on a roll. For our champion lunch-time writers who post every day this week, we’d love to hear your reflections on the experience.

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be on your lunch break either. Try jotting down your momentary observations just before bed, while on the train home from work, or during any of those lost hours where we stare off into space instead of centering ourselves and reflecting on what’s going on around us.

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  1. I glance out the window as the sun breaks through the morning fog. Despite being indoors, I instinctively lift my face as if to feel its rays. Then self-imposed timelines for completing applications and answering phone calls return my eyes to my computer. I reach for the apple to smother the rumble emanating from my stomach.

  2. Brilliantly expressed !
    My lunch-time post coming soon.. though at a Business School, we’re all pretty much hard-pressed for time, all the time.

    Need to get my writing neuron-connections recharged :-)

      1. Thank you for the comment! Sometimes what we think are the biggest mistakes, turn out to be the greatest blessings. Believe it or not, but the sexiest thing my husband ever did for me at this time was pack me a lunch and make sure I had a glass of water at all times. I have never been so thirsty in my life! Moms…I’m sure you can all relate.

  3. you must be quite enjoy the moments of writing, I am from technical background, hope I can write too. I take it as a mean to communicate with others online and all end up to complete last step of survive online. I can see it’s more important than ever

  4. Bad choice of topic. Some 92 million Americans don’t have jobs and can’t find work. Writing about lunch hours we don’t have is a painful reminder of the absence of jobs. Better the writing prompt: Go to a homeless shelter, talk with them, listen to them, write on that.

  5. Well in this Life we should know that Lunch is one important meal that is not supposed to be missed….we need enough energy to take us throughout the day! For example you can not expect an engineer or some one who does heavy work to just go @ a restaurant and eat one piece of pizza…he needs enough food to gain enough energy for the day! I remember one day I went to Mac-donalds I sat on my chair waiting for my food then I saw a couple coming in; they ordered chicken burger for each of them…while they were waiting the man received a call! It was from one of his ex-gal and they talked for almost 2 minutes….the lady noted that his man was talking to some gal so she was furious and she stood up very angry got her handbag and run down the road: the innocent waiter brought the food; what amazed me and interested me was what this man did…he ate all the two burgers…then he said: LUNCH IS NOT SOMETHING YOU ARE TO MISS! Its kinda funny and crazy somehow but he was right…leave the anger aside first eat then deal with it….cause the more you will shout when you are angry the more you will loose energy! So DON’T MISS LUNCH!

213 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