You got a minute? Give your playwrighting battery a jump-start with one of these 60 second prompts.
I’m a huge believer in the value of time pressure, because it forces you to focus. Sometimes, when you plan to spend a whole day writing, things get in the way. Your dentist’s office calls to confirm your appointment, or you try to take a 20-minute power nap and accidentally conk out for two much-needed hours of heavy snoring.
With a 60 second prompt, that’s not an issue. You’re not going to make a dentist appointment or get a night’s sleep in the next 60 seconds: all you’re going to do is write.
Sometimes, when you plan to spend a whole day writing, you get in the way. You can’t decide what exactly you want to make, or how, or you can’t figure out what kind of artist you want to be today, and you start thinking that until you have firm answers to those questions, you can’t make anything.
With a 60 second prompt, that’s not an issue. You’re not going to solve your whole artistic canon in the next 60 seconds; all you’re going to do is write for, like, a minute. Set a clock.
Here are some prompts that each deserve exactly 60 seconds of your time.
60 Second Character: one physical characteristic, one psychological characteristic, and one circumstantial fact. (“My character has a moustache, a slow-burning but powerful temper, and not enough money.”)
60 Second Plot: one tragic event, and one reason why it could have happened. (“A beloved dog is murdered, because of a misunderstood emoji message.”)
60 Second Stagecraft: one visual, one sound, and one person taking action. (“A simple wooden chair by a window. A bird sings. A middle-aged woman rushes into the room.”)
60 Second Dialogue: three words, then a five word response. (“Character 1: I missed you. Character 2: I didn’t think you would.”)
A best, any of those exercises could be the germination point for a big idea, for something that excites you enough to make you want to give it more time. At worst, if you don’t like the idea, you’ve lost what, 60 seconds? That’s not even a full commercial break on Hulu.