Write Now

Want to get a little taste of what we do in our Writing Workshops? They’re built on a foundation of timed writing also known as “free writing” exercises. You don’t have to wait until you’re enrolled in a workshop to start writing creatively. You can start right now!

Goldberg’s Advice for Timed Writing

In her book Writing Down the Bones, (now a staple of the Free Minds curriculum) Natalie Goldberg offers the following advice for the practice of free writing:

  1. Keep your hand moving.(Don’t pause to reread the line you have just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.)
  2. Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.)
  3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)
  4. Lose control.
  5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
  6. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)


We often use prompts in the writing workshops, because we believe that it’s easier to begin writing with a few boundaries. We think this helps people not to become overwhelmed by the infinity of possible writing topics that exist in our minds and in our world. Below are some prompts that we’ve used that have worked well in past workshops.

Set your timer for 15 to 20 minutes, and try writing about one of these things.

  • My favorite possession…
  • You can’t tell by looking…
  • In my pocket…
  • On the street where I live…
  • Write about someone you know well doing something very ordinary.
  • “Choose a color—for instance, pink—and take a fifteen minute walk. On your walk notice wherever there is pink. Come back to your notebook and write for fifteen minutes.” (from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones p. 22)
  • Write in a different place–for example a laundromat, and pay attention to your surroundings. Try writing at a bus stop or cafe or in a museum. Write what is going on around you.
  • Think of a person—could be someone you know, a famous person, or a fictional character from a book, movie or tv show. Write that person’s name at the top of your paper and begin, “I feel like…”
  • Write five minutes on each of the following prompts: 1.) For many years I wanted… 2.) Now I want… 3.) In the future, I imagine myself…
  • Pretend you’re submitting an entry to a 55 fiction contest. The rule of this contest is that you must tell a complete story (beginning, middle, and end) in 55 words or fewer. Take as much time as you need to work on this.
  • Deliberately overhear a conversation in a public place; try to record the words and the body language. Then write, describing the scene and using the dialogue you collected.
  • Pick a line from a song or poem at random. Write about that.
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