January’s Writing Prompt: Small Sketches of People and Things Around You

written by Mikaela Cowles on January 11, 2018 in Writing Prompt with no comments


Feel like you can never find the words? Whether you’re writing a blog post or letter to a client, writing prompts are a great way to spark your creativity.

On the second Thursday of every month, we’ll share a writing prompt and one (or maybe a few) of our own first drafts. 

Please Note: Sharing first drafts is the exception, not the rule. We’re doing so here to display that these exercises are not about being perfect. They are about flexing your creative muscles.

January’s Writing Prompt: Create Small Sketches of People and Things Around You

Write down 10 people or items you can see from where you are right now, giving each a few lines of their own.

Set a time for 20-second intervals. (We like to use the Intervals iPhone app.) Starting at the bottom of your list, describe the person or item as thoroughly as possible in just 20 seconds. Continue moving up your list in 20-second intervals until complete.

Round 1:

  • Yeti Mug: Teal. Silver. Sturdy. Cold. Open top. Round.
  • Sharpie: Red cap with a grey body. The WORD sharpie stands out.
  • Dog: Snoring. Laying at my feet. Head base stool where I’m sitting.
  • Woman: Standing outside. Wearing rain boots and a rain coat. Trying to move a wheelbarrow.
  • Pan: On stove. Upside down. Water on handel.
  • Stool: Red cushion top. Stainless steel legs. Swivel seats. Roughly 3 feet tall.
  • Countertop: Granite. “cluttered” with two coffee makers, coffee grinder, small kegorator,
  • Leaves: cover grass and the ground. Turning brown. yellow. Several caught in bird bath.
  • Rain: Pounding on skylight. Creating large puddles on the patio. Smells like damp grass.
  • Dog Bowl: Empty. Silver. Resting in a black, plastic container that’s roughly 1 foot high.

Round 2:

  • White Box: Macy’s box. Must be old. Holds miniature bundt cakes. Corner hanging off the counter like it’s primed to fall.
  • Purse: Black. Leather. Satchel shaped.
  • TV: T.V. turned off. Screen looks like a mirror, reflecting the couch that stis before it.
  • Stove: Part of a stove/oven combo. Turned off. Metal kettle sits on top.
  • Boots: Leather. Laceup. Warm. Rugged. Worn.
  • Thermos: The lid sits on the counter beside it, as though its primed to be filled with a warm drink.
  • Pen: Red Paper Mate pen. The best kind of pen for writing in the shower. The lid is on.
  • Sticky Note: Green sticky note stuck to table. It reads ‘don’t forget’. Wonder what the person’s supposed to not forget?
  • Glass: Empty glass. No lipstick marks on its rim. Maybe it was a man who was using it.
  • Chair: Wood. Tall backed. Sitting beside similar chairs at a long dining room table.

About January’s Prompt

Twenty seconds is not a lot of time. This “Small Sketches” prompt is not designed to create a masterpiece. Rather, it’s about letting the words just flow.

It’s easy to take yourself too seriously. That’s when writer’s block kicks in.

Suddenly you find yourself staring at the same blank page for 20 minutes wondering “Where do I start?” By starting with these small sketches, you can quickly transition to the message you’re really trying to deliver. (I’ve even been known to do this when writing birthday cards!)

Did you do the prompt? I’d love to see your descriptions! Share them with me on Facebook.


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