That was my reaction when I finally settled down to read Five Minute Friday — A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. It was not what I expected.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps I thought it would be more of a journal, not particularly put together in a splashy manner … something more plain Jane. But, one of our own, Susan Shipe, took on the unenviable job of compiling posts from our FMF community. It started with a simple question, do you have a favorite or popular FMF post you would be willing to share. Surprise! One hundred forty-four — yes 144! — sent in responses, including yours truly. Susan ran with it and put together one of the classiest collections I’ve ever seen.
I haven’t read all 144 yet. I’m still sifting through the book. But truth be known, as I have perused the 236 page, soft cover gem, I recognized names of my fellow writers and uncovered hidden writing jewels, some of which I have read before and others being unearthed here for the first time. I have decided I will incorporate these posts into my quiet time each day. They are that much of a blessing.
Speaking of blessings, that was the post I submitted. The prompt for the week was TEN. I chose to list my top 10 blessings. There it was, starting on page 59 (https://wisdomfromafather.com/2015/07/24/five-minute-friday-ten/).
Five Minute Friday was the brainchild of Lisa-Jo Baker, who joined in the endeavor by providing the Forward. She explains it best. “I wanted to write like my kids ran — unselfconscious with arms flailing and heart beating wildly. Running [writing] just for the joy of running [writing].” She decided “one ordinary Thursday” to throw caution to the wind and invite people to just write without worrying if it was just right or not.
“What if we took five minutes and all wrote on the same prompt?” she thought. “What might we create?”
That’s how Five Minute Friday was born back on Jan. 11, 2011.
I came to the party Jan. 5, 2013, about three months after I first started blogging. I had been following Lisa-Jo’s posts for a couple of months, but hesitated joining in because, well, most of the posts were from very talented young mothers and women and I wasn’t sure how an old geezer like me would fit in. So I asked Lisa-Jo, who cordially responded “You’re welcome to jump in and write along. We have a few other brave men who join now and again.”
I never looked back. Although I typically don’t get to the prompt until Saturday, it has become a must do exercise. I feel bad if I am forced — and that’s really the operative word — to miss a post. I know I can just skip it, but I feel like I am skipping school … and there was an assignment due! Just a couple of weeks ago, I “caught up” on three missed weeks, not because I had to, but because I needed to.
The format is simple. Set the timer for five minutes and write. Don’t worry about mistakes, grammar, fonts or punctuation … just write from your mind and heart. Then, post and encourage others who have braved the exercise. That is the heart of the community.
Every Friday for four years, hundreds of people joined a kind of writing flash mob at Lisa-Jo’s blog, lisajobaker.com. As she tells it, “We gathered over laptops, kitchen sinks and in conference rooms. Around virtual coffee tables, on Facebook, between the car pool drop offs and putting the kids to bed. And every Thursday night we met up on Twitter using the hashtag #FMFParty (Five Minute Friday party) to wait for the writing prompt that would always go live at 10 p.m. EST. Exactly.”
Lisa-Jo decided to turn over the coordinating to her “word sister and fellow lover of Five Minute Friday” Kate Motaung, who took the baton and has kept running with it. The only change she has made is moving the prompt location. Still at 10 p.m. EST, the single word prompt now goes lives at katemotaung.com. That’s also where the posts are linked.
In her Introduction, Kate adds, “Expect to be surprised by what comes out [when you set your fingers free]. That’s all part of the ride. All part of the creativity of our God, of His image reflected in His people.”
I love these guys … the well over 100 who contribute weekly. They bless me with their words. Or as Kate says, “Above all, have fun! No stress, only smiles.”
Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat is available at https://www.createspace.com or https://www.amazon.com for $12.99. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to The Vine School and Take Action Ministries, both in South Africa.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You need to be as gracious to others as you want God to be to you. — Pastor Bill Welsh