Writing Assignment: Fifty Words

by Randy Murray on April 19, 2013

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.

Originally published August 12, 2010.

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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Luke Arms April 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

My wife is asleep to my right, our dog to my left. The Clint Eastwood movie I didn’t really want to watch is receiving as much of my attention as it deserves, while my head swims with indecision over whether to engage with what’s happening in Boston. Should I care?


Leslie April 23, 2013 at 1:42 am

I’m sitting on my comfy sofa feeling like a heavy weight’s been lifted off my shoulders. I love to read and just finished “Working From Home.” It appears that most of my long working life I’ve been a “square peg in a round hole.” I’ve decided no more round holes.


nicholas delisa April 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

The mattress cushions my belly as darkness engulfs this hole. Eyes weary, I should shut them and salvage the rest to come. Yet, illumination guides my course, leading to another restless night, followed by a working day. A working day, absent of sunshine, creates a sublime mind that despises time.


Matt Martin April 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Waves lull within reach as I lounge poolside. A tropical breeze washes over me as I stare at a computer screen cradled in my lap. Thoughts of ambitions reserved for idle moments bubble anxiously. I reach for my drink, placate my anxieties, and return to the screen.


Charlotte April 24, 2013 at 7:40 am

So, how do I feel? For five years we had the perfect metaphor…the roller coaster of a cancer diagnosis. We rode to the end, hanging on for dear life. Now, a new metaphor …. amputation…. like part of me was cut away, but like the phantom limb, he’s still there.


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