Micro Mondays are a simple way to get some writing done each week with minimal effort, thanks to some thoughtfully crafted writing prompts. All you need to do is have 15 minutes set aside (5 to prep and get settled, 10 to write), with no interruptions, and you’re good to go.

Micro Mondays use a writing prompt to get you warmed up for a week of writing. Whether you’re in the middle of a writing project, or trying to figure out what to write next, Micro Mondays are a place where you can stop in, do a little writing, and get on your way.

There’s no editing, no judging, no overthinking. Just writing. This will help you build a portfolio of work, one word at a time.

Why the Name Micro Monday?

For the past few years, I’ve been doing a lot of writing and teaching on micro narratives, micro memoirs, micro essays, micro fiction, basically everything micro. It was even the topic of my MFA thesis (which I got at 50, a whole other story).

Micro is a short form of writing, capped at 300 words or less. It can be fiction, creative nonfiction, or prose poetry. The draft of my poetry chapbook, Other Small Histories, and winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship judged by Patricia Smith, had 30 prose poems that were each 250 words or less. The first pass of my collection of micro essays, Allegiance, started with pieces of 300 words or less, many kicked off by writing prompts. Allegiance got the bronze in the essay category for the 2021 IPPY awards.

It turns out that 10 minutes of writing can take you places, as can one page of writing (double-spaced, 12 point New York Times). But you need to show up.

Why Writing Prompts?

Our now defunct local paper…

I am a fan of writing prompts. I know some people aren’t, and that’s fine. I’m not suggesting that writing prompts are going to lead to a book (though, well, it obviously can…😉). What I am suggesting is that writing prompts can help you get out of your own way, and writers are notorious for getting in their own way, like all. of. the. time.

Most of these prompts are adapted from a column I wrote for three years for North Hawaii News, a small paper based in upcountry Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. It was called The Writer’s Corner, and I like to think that Writer-ish.com can be that place, too.

A Few Guidelines

There are a handful of rules guidelines in the Micro Monday universe:

  • Keep your hand moving. Don’t stop to edit or overthink your words—the goal is to get them down on paper first. If you get stuck, just write “I’m stuck” over and over again until a new thought comes in (yes, this really works).
  • Let yourself go anywhere the writing leads you. It’s okay if you end up writing something different from how you started out.
  • Schedule your writing time. Put it on the calendar or set a reminder on your cell phone. If possible make it a routine by writing at the same time everyday. Yes, you can have weekends off.
  • Ask a few friends to join you. Commit to Micro Mondays and share your work via email immediately after. No critiquing, just sharing.  
  • Count your words. There’s a magic with micro, and it’s all about the word count. If you’re under, that’s fine, but if you’re over, you need to cut until you’re at 300 words or less. Ten minutes of writing, or one letter-sized page (handwritten or double-spaced on the computer), will yield about that much.
  • Save the editing for later. As long as your piece is 300 words or less, let the pages pile up for now. I recommend printing out your work each day, or using the same notebook (more on this below), so you can get a sense of progress.
  • Title your piece. Even if you feel like the writing isn’t anything special (yet), give it a title. Then date it and put it away. That’s it!

The Monday Micro Notebook (or Binder)

Keep your writing in a special notebook or folder. Label the notebook or folder, “Micro Mondays.” Date each entry. If you miss a Monday, it’s not the end of the world: you don’t need to make it up, but start again the next week.

If you’re really committed to this process, use a binder. I talk about my binder system in more length in my micro courses and classes, but for now use a binder and add your work each week, with the most current work on top. Keep track of your progress with a Table of Contents at the front of your binder (you’re titling each piece, remember?).

Keep your laptop or notebook handy because you can do this almost anywhere. A quiet space is nice, yes, but if that time or place doesn’t avail itself to you, figure something else out … I know you can.

A Little Writing Goes a Long Way

Give me a month, you’ll have 4-5 pieces. Give me a season, you’ll have 12-14. Six months: 24-27. One full year? That’s 52 pieces, give or take.

One full year of 10 minutes of writing each time is 8.67 hours. That’s a day’s work for most people, but if you committed a whole day to writing 52 micro narratives, you’d be hard pressed to hit that goal.

We’re mostly grown-ups here — I don’t need to tell you where you can find 15 minutes ONCE A WEEK. I will say this, however:

There’s a lot you can do with 52 pieces.

Other Random Thoughts and FAQs

You have two choices (and one suggestion from me): You can skip it and come up with your own (or choose one of these memoir prompts), you can modify it to fit something in your memoir, or (my suggestion) is to just write the prompt as given. Why? This is writing practice, brain warmup, subconscious mudlarking. Giving yourself free rein to listen and write will open you up for your memoir. Even if this exercise isn’t relevant to your writing project, it’s relevant to your writing practice. Everyone is different, however, so try each of the three options and see which one works best.

It might … okay, it is. Except it isn’t. Micro Mondays aren’t necessarily designed to help you add pages to your novel or memoir or poetry collection (though I can help with that — check out my classes or private consults). Micro Mondays are about showing up consistently for your creative self, your writer-ish self. And it won’t go unrewarded, I promise.

Then make it a Tuesday, or a Saturday, or whatever works for you. Just get it written before the next prompt appears.

My micro classes are the best place to start, both via this website and/or Hugo House. You can also check out an anthology I recently had the honor of serving as executive editor, Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in the World. There are a lot of resources in the back of the book as well, including more in-depth information on how to write your own micro and recommended books.

What Should I Do with All My Writing?

A time will come when you know you’re ready to pause and review what you’ve done. I usually recommend that writers do this after 3 months. By then you’ll have at least 12-14 pieces, and a little bit of time and distance. It also won’t distract you from the writing itself — Micro Mondays are a sneaky way of getting you to add another tool in your writing practice toolbox.

At that point, make sure your Table of Contents is updated for your work in progress. Read each piece aloud, and mark the ones that you love, and note the ones that you like but need some work. The ones you’re not sure about … let those sit a little longer. Discard nothing. Judge nothing. You are observing and seeing if there’s one or more pieces you might be able to do something with. Flesh out into something bigger? Submit on its own to a literary journal?

In my experience, at least 1 out of 10 pieces will have real legs and need very little revision — it’s almost perfect as is. Two might be meh and on the bottom of the pile but capable to being transformed when you’re ready (and sometimes get elevated to the top of the pile). Everything in the middle is good but needs time and revision and shaping. Like most things in writing.

Have any questions about how it works? Drop a comment below.

Don’t Miss a Weekly Writing Prompt

Micro Mondays are posted every Monday on the blog for 2022, and will move to newsletter subscribers beginning 2023. Sign up now so you don’t miss a prompt! 📬

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