Welcome to the World of Micro

If this is your first time writing or exploring micro, you’re in for a treat. If you’re familiar or a pro with this short form, you’ll find Micro Mondays are a great way to amplify your writing practice and contribute to any creative project you may be bringing to life.

Call it micro prose, micro narratives, micro essays, or micro memoirs, this short form is a powerful way to tell your story. Not only is it bite-sized and accessible to both reader and writer, but micro prose focuses on what’s most essential and compelling.

I define micro as 300 words or less, not including the title. You don’t need to worry about the word count in your initial response to the prompt (aka your first draft), but you’ll want to adhere to it for any revisions. With practice, you’ll find this structure will help you hone your work with each pass, and your brain + creative spirit will respond to this intention by getting to the point…fast.

All you need is 15 minutes to set aside (5 to prep and get settled, 10 to write), with no interruptions, and you’re good to go. We’ll provide you with a thoughtfully-crafted writing prompt each week that will get your creativity flowing.

There’s no editing, no judging, no overthinking. Just writing. This weekly practice is designed to keep you writing while helping you build a portfolio of work, one word at a time. Amplify your work by taking a micro memoir workshop with me anytime.

The Micro Monday Posting Schedule

Prompts are a great tool for everyone, regardless of whether you write creative nonfiction/memoir, fiction, poetry, or a combination of all three. Don’t worry if the prompt doesn’t seem relevant or if your writing feels random — prompts are about discovery and inquiry. You don’t know yet what you have, and responding to prompts helps get you unstuck, wade past the much, and get back into the flow. Trust it.

For the first Monday of every month, we’ll get your imagination flowing with a fiction prompt. All other Mondays will be dedicated to memoir prompts. Starting in 2024, you can expect to see a poetry prompt the third Monday of each month.

First MondayFiction
Second MondayCNF/Memoir
Third MondayCNF/Poetry *
Fourth/Fifth MondayCNF/Memoir
* For the third week of the month in 2023, we’ll continue with CNF prompts.
Beginning in 2024, we’ll post poetry prompts in 2024.

And, of course, you are welcome to respond to the prompts in any way you wish — take a CNF prompt and write from the perspective of your fictional protagonist. Or use a fiction prompt to imagine what if for yourself or someone you are writing about. Experimenting with the poetic form may lead to a revelation about how to structure your memoir. And writing outside your chosen genre is a great way to build your writing muscles.

Micro Mondays are about developing a writing practice and getting your mind into a creative flow for the week. It’s about learning a new form that might surprise you. It’s about staying open to whatever comes and wants to appear on the page. It’s about showing up, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day. Let’s begin.

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!

Organizing Your Micro: The Binder System

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.

Micro FAQs

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.

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.

Prompts are also a way into your story, one that you may not have considered before. It doesn’t matter if you “stay” with the prompt given, or end up writing about something completely different. Trust wherever you go with it–think of the prompt as a diving board, not the pool of water.

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.

You have two choices (and one suggestion from me): You can skip it and come up with your own, you can modify it to fit something in your writing project, 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 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.

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.

Another great thing about micro is how you’re able to submit the work as you go along you’re putting your collection.

Join me for a live Micro Memoir Workshop once a month on Sundays, or watch the replay at a discount and have unlimited access to the classroom. 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 recommended books and in-depth information on how to write your own micro.

Establish a (Simple) Writing Practice

Writing micro doesn’t have to compete with other writing projects you have going on. Here are a few simple schedules you can use to help you write micro on a regular basis. For more information on using containers and establishing successful writing and revision practices, take one of my Micro Memoir Writing workshops to give you a solid foundation and add the Revision Micro Prose workshop to your library.

Schedule 1 (Full Week)

For the faithfuls and diehards who can’t go a day without micro! You’ll end the week with three new micro narratives and two revised narratives. Not bad for one week’s work for only 10 minutes a day!

  • Sunday: write for 10 min
  • Monday: write for 10 min
  • Tuesday: revise for 10 min
  • Wednesday: revise 10 min
  • Thursday: write for 10 min
  • Friday: revise for 10 min
  • Saturday: revise for 10 min

Schedule 2 (Weekends Off)

This schedule is good if you are pressed for time but don’t want to lose momentum. Your priority is generating new work but you also want to do the work of refining an existing piece of writing. You’ll end the week with three new pieces of writing and one revised piece.

  • Sunday: off
  • Monday: write for 10 min
  • Tuesday: revise for 10 min
  • Wednesday: revise 10 min
  • Thursday: write for 10 min
  • Friday: write for 10 min
  • Saturday: off

Schedule 3 (Weekends Off)

This schedule is good if you are using my micro revision method and have a plethora of pieces (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) that need to be revised. Your priority is revising your existing pieces while honoring new creative work that might want to come in. You’ll end the week with two revised pieces and one new piece of writing.

  • Sunday: off
  • Monday: revise for 10 min (prose to poetry)
  • Tuesday: revise for 10 min
  • Wednesday: write for 10 min
  • Thursday: revise for 10 min
  • Friday: revise for 10 min

Mastering Micro

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. With 52 pieces, you’ll have choices. Check out our recommended reading list to see how others have used micro in their work.

Once you’ve committed to a writing practice for micro, consider taking a Micro Memoir Workshop. These happen live once a month, and you can register for any past and future workshop for unlimited access. These workshops will help keep you accountable, give you the necessary check-in, and re-affirm your commitment to micro.

Need more prompts to carry you through the rest of the week? I’ve got you!

Prompts and More Prompts

Ready to get started? Find the Micro Monday prompts here.

Need more prompts to carry you through the rest of the week? I’ve got you!

Stay Connected

Micro Mondays are posted every Monday beginning January 2023, and will move to newsletter subscribers beginning January 2024. Join the mailing list to be notified of pop-up write-ins and bonus prompts. 📬

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