Time. Such an important commodity, and one we never think we have enough of. How many of us have wanted to sit down and write a novel—heck, even a poem or a short story—but felt we just didn’t have the time to be that creative? Leigh Medeiros is here to dispel that myth, with her book The 1-Minute Writer.
The 1-Minute Writer is different from other writing prompt books, in that this one focuses on using regular micro bursts of time to get some words on the page and your creative fire stoked. As many writers believe, Medeiros thinks you need to be writing every day, even if it’s just for a short amount of time. In Medeiros’ words, “So often people carry the false belief that creative writing requires hours of uninterrupted time clacking away inside a bubble far from the distractions of the world. The reality is that writing for just one minute each day will strengthen your creative muscles more than writing for 20 minutes every two weeks—and minutes are a lot easier to come by than hours.”
Medeiros goes on to describe the structure of the book. “You’ll find ninety-nine prompt themes in this book, each one comprised of four timed prompts: 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 20 minutes. When using the 1-minute prompts you’ll be able to get down two to three cleverly crafted sentences. With the 5 and 10-minute prompts you can spend more time with the concept of the prompt theme, resulting in one paragraph to several paragraphs of wild musings. The 20-minute prompts are slightly more complex that the others and are designed to be more of a deep dive.”
The prompts are broken into three types: Observation prompts, Imagination prompts and Memory prompts. The four timed prompts are related peripherally but not mere expansions on each other, making the book more useful if you’d like to explore them all. Varying writing types are also used in the examples, from writing an imaginary catalog blurb to a slam poem to a church sermon, in addition to the short story form.
The prompts included in the book are truly inspiring. Some call for the writing of recipes, or the first page of a children’s book teaching the number one, some call for the exploration of character dialogue or naming new shades of the color yellow. Included, too, are writing samples using prompts to read when your well is running dry. For example, Medeiros suggests the following prompt and then writes it herself.
1-minute prompt: Ever had a stranger hook you up with a favor? Using one-and two-word sentences only, write a short story about a time a stranger did you a solid.
Mountain road. Flat tire. Lug wrench. Struggle, strain. Won’t budge. Car stops. Boots approaching. Strogn hands. Lefty-loosey. Clank, clatter. Tire off. Spare on. Righty-tighty. Driving away.
I found The 1-Minute Writer to be an utter delight of a writing book. It takes a very intimidating thought, a commitment to a regular writing practice, and makes it totally approachable. The many styles of writing that are represented stretch the creative muscles, and the timed notion of the pieces make it easy to write prolifically without worrying about writing perfectly, while still allowing the beginning of a piece you may want to expand in the future. Medeiros has such a wide variety of prompts that some are bound to score with all kinds of writers, and her exploration of the themes, such as “Soundscape”, “Counting on You”, and “Well, That Escalated Quickly” are truly interesting and fun to write along to. If you’re looking for a way to break out of a writing rut, trying to finally get your writing practice off the ground, or just want some entertaining inspiration to get you writing more, I’d highly recommend The 1-Minute Writer, because creativity? Is something we all need to make time for.