Writing Assignment: Fifty Words

by Randy Murray on August 12, 2010

If your goal is to become a better writer, you need to practice. Here’s your writing assignment for today: describe how you feel at this moment in fifty words, no more, no less.

Writing is a craft. Although not everyone can write beautifully, almost anyone can write well if they work at the craft of writing. Brevity and following William Strunk Jr’s admonition to “Omit needless words!” are critical skills and can be learned and practiced (if you do not have your own copy of The Elements of Style, get one immediately!).

For this exercise write a brief piece describing how you feel, either emotionally or physically, at this very moment, then edit and craft it so that it is exactly fifty words in length. This can be a very difficult exercise and a challenging puzzle. Fifty words, but the right words, accurately describing how you feel, might be a more complex task than you imagine.

Here’s my example:

I’m in the middle of my second cup of coffee this morning and I can feel that near-perfect balance of rested potential and energized alertness. That ache in my lower back, just to the left, isn’t glowing red-hot just yet, but it’s there, warm, fist sized and ever present.

You may leave your completed assignment in the comments section below.

Click here to view and complete previous writing assignments.

The Writing Assignment: Fifty Words by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fernando M de Bittencourt August 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I just finished my dinner. It’s raining and foggy and have been like that all day. My feelings are confused and the future is blur in Italy, the uncertainties are starting to hunt me every second. It’s hard to not think about life when you just lost a loved one.


2 Randy Murray August 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Marvelous. Thanks for sharing.


3 Eddie August 12, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Great idea. This was fun.


With most of the day now at my back, I’ve arrived at a 6:30 forked path: Do I jog or do I write? The August humidity wins; the typing begins. My fingers are on my Mac, but my mind outside. Looking out the window, I think of fall. Life’s good.


4 Randy Murray August 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Nice and evocative. Thanks for posting!


5 Patrick Rhone August 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I look into my screen as if an abyss. Trying to wrap my head around the several projects not yet formed. Trying to stall by searching for the right tool. Knowing it is not about the tool. Any one of the several I have will do. I must simply act.


6 Randy Murray August 13, 2010 at 7:19 am

Very nice.


7 Robert August 13, 2010 at 3:12 am

The day has just begun and I was woke up by heavy noises from outside. Just the way I don’t like to be brought back into the world of the awake. Time for me to enjoy my first mug of coffee, or this day will surely turn out quite poorly.


8 Randy Murray August 13, 2010 at 7:21 am

I like it.

I made one spelling correction (“first” for “fist”).


9 Robert August 13, 2010 at 10:17 am

Oopsie! But I guess a fist of coffee isn’t too bad either. Thanks for the correction though, always appreciate it!


10 Steven Riddle August 13, 2010 at 11:15 am

Dear Randy,

At this moment,
I’m bombarded by talk,
surrounded by confusion,
wanting to turn on Josh Turner,
to resolve into Loretta Lynn’s Lincoln,
to blend the sounds to something like
the susuration of the sea on shore.
peace, tranquility, hope, tension, despair,
and stress all together and pulling
their separate ways.

This pretty much covers it. Neat activity.




11 Randy Murray August 13, 2010 at 11:22 am


Thanks for contributing, Steven.


12 Dean Fuhrman August 14, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Ate fantastic, smoky ribs for lunch. They live with me still, burning and churning. It’s hot out and the temps match my lethargy. Some of which may be the effect of those ribs that haunt me. I hear the cadence of the cicada loud and clear even in the house.


13 Randy Murray August 15, 2010 at 10:23 am

Thanks, Dean!


14 Dean Harris September 13, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Well, I missed the boat on this post, but arrived here courtesy of a link from Patrick earlier today, and had to give this a go. So, here it is:

Sitting here at work, mere moment until lunch, and all I can do is think that I want to write. “But write about what” I ask myself. Just write till the words flow freely, and the keyboard starts to make that comforting old sound “click clack… click clack”. Sweet relief.

Both pleased with, and embarrased at, that effort.


15 Randy Murray September 14, 2010 at 7:31 am

Thanks for sharing your work, Dean!

Feel free to try the other writing assignments, too.



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