of Five Minute Friday and rules that were made to be broken

Five-Minute FridaySome rules were made to be broken. Especially when it comes to writing prompts and blog link-ups like Five Minute Friday.

Each week I participate in a link-up hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. The idea is to write for five minutes flat about the prompt of the week. But the very idea of writing for only five minutes is enough to scare some people away. “There is no way in the whole wide world I can write in five minutes,” admitted one beautiful and talented blogger I know.

But Five Minute Friday isn’t about timed writing—it’s not a contest. Five Minute Friday is about not letting perfectionism get in the way of getting our words on paper or on screen. Five Minute Friday is a time to “just write, without worrying about whether it’s just right or not.”

I like to check the word prompt before I go to bed Thursday night, then mull it over and let the words tumble out Friday morning. Some people write the moment the word is announced at the #FMFParty Twitter party or Lisa-Jo’s post shows up in their feed reader.

I’ve found that God often has a real message for me in the Five Minute Friday word for the week. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than five minutes to get that lesson into words. I’ve even written a post on one aspect of the word, just to get it linked up on Friday, only to realize the next week that it was another area He wanted to speak to me about.

I know that some of my friends find that the word often probes so deep into their story that their Five Minute Friday posts never see the light of their blog. But we’re not writing for the rest of the web; we’re writing for that audience of One, and often to process the lesson or healing He is leading us through. Don’t let the fact that you may not publish your post keep you from writing it.

The only hard and fast, “no ifs ands or buts” rule of Five Minute Friday is to leave some comment love for the person who linked up before you. But if I’m honest, I’m sure there’s been a time or two I’ve completely forgotten to do that. That’s the beauty of the Five Minute Friday community, though—there’s always more than one visitor from the link-up, and there are faithful commenters like Denise who comment on every single post they visit (and she visits a lot!). The Five Minute Friday community isn’t built on rules: it is about grace and freedom and throwing caution to the wind to write, whether it’s for five minutes or fifty.

Some people use a timer or stop watch. I glance at my computer’s clock for a rough estimation of how long I’ve been writing. Some weeks it turns into a Ten Minute Tuesday post. Other weeks, it takes about an hour to get five minutes of actual writing in, between the phone calls and the diaper changes and the fact that the little farmer dropped his tractor out of his bed when he was supposed to be napping.

Don’t let a timer keep you from one of the best writing prompts on the web. There is no wrong way to do Five Minute Friday; the right way to do it is to write.


P.S. This week’s prompt is “broken”, because Lisa-Jo’s blog has been just that this week, so we’re linking up on Facebook instead. If you’ve never joined in Five Minute Friday before, perhaps you’ll join the rest of us imperfect and broken writers as we write for the fun of it and for what God is teaching us through it? Don’t worry about how long it takes you: just write!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Love your description and want to belong. Alas! Couldn’t follow the directions on Lisa Jo Baker’s Aug30 post! Not savy.

    1. Do you have a blog, Anne? If so, just write a post on your blog that goes along with the theme, then link it up at Lisa-Jo’s. If you don’t have a blog, you can write your post on the word prompt in the comment section of Lisa-Jo’s post. Does that make sense?

  2. I love what you say about it being ok to write something and not publish it!
    I always feel so..unfinished…if I do it. But sometimes it’s just necessary for something the Lord is teaching me to sink in thoroughly 🙂

  3. Gretchen, you’ve gotta know how much I love this post! I didn’t get to read many last week, so I’m thrilled Lisa-Jo linked to you today. You covered it ALL! I’m always amazed at how God speaks to me so many different voices. It’s a new gift each week.

  4. Thank you for this. I found the link on Lisa Jo’s Five Minute Friday: Story post. Thank you for explaining this grace to those of us who watch this Friday phenomenon from the edge of the circle, too timid to jump in but mesmerized anyway. Thank you for explaining how you ruminate on the topic overnight and how you sometimes break the time limit rule. The thought of dashing down words in only five minutes has caused me to step back further from the edge. This may be the encouragement I need to dip my words into the circle soon.

    Deb Weaver

  5. All I know is that I love Jesus with all of my heart. Most of the time I feel like I am a failure at so many things because I am a perfectionist and I think that if I don’t do things perfectly that I have failed., but I know that Jesus loves me and know matter how I feel about myself He sees what He has created me to be and what I can be as I give my life to Him each day and seek His will.

      1. Hi Gretchen, you are absolutely right, it’s about getting the story out. Although to be fair, I don’t feel guilt, even though I regularly break the five-minute rule. I will post my own Story tomorrow, when the photo is ready.

  6. ohhh well done Gretchen. I love this post…and do I ever hear you about the words and how they tend to resonate into other things that GOd wants our hearts to hear and ponder. Both this week and last week have been very tender places for me…things I’m still thinking about. thank you for sharing about the freedom of writing and how its not about the TIME but about the Lord’s prompting and leading.

  7. I love your heart here. Yes, the rules have a place but aren’t intended to kill the words God wants written. I love your ten-minute Tuesday idea–good inspiration.

  8. Ah, I’m so relieved that I’m not the only one who occasionally breaks the Five minute friday rules. 🙂 I was suffering guilt after so many lovely comments about the post I wrote this week being done in only 5 minutes! Realistically speaking, it took more than five minutes. But not because I edited or worried over what I was writing. It was because I was conversing with the Lord about the ending. While I broke “the rules,” it was because I followed the spirit of them by getting caught up in the writing itself. And I think that’s the point of five minute fridays, after all.

    1. Oh, you’re definitely not the only one! I know–I’ve gotten comments like that, too. But it’s the heart work that happens through the writing that matters, not how long it took.

  9. I too have had the desire to write much longer than five minutes about many of the prompts, this week’s especially! I always tell myself, I’ll flesh this idea out later, but I never actually get around to it. Like you, sometimes my five minutes takes an hour depending on the number of interruptions caused by dropped toys! Love your perspective!

  10. Beautiful reminders of what FMF is all about. I personally love this writing challenge and look forward to it each week. tonight, I’m actually posting on Saturday early, early morning because my Friday was just too full and crazy busy. How’s that for a broken rule!?! Thanks again for your thoughts. Your FMF friend

  11. You hit the nail on the head! There is no wrong way to do FMF – just jump in and do it. And ultimately we are writing for an audience of One. Love this!

  12. Yes. To all of this. I also get the prompt on Thursday night and think about it, pray about it, and get some God-direction before I write. The word is almost always lined up with something the Holy Spirit is working in me. 🙂 thank you for this encouraging post for all of us rule breakers!

  13. Thank you so much for this. When I reviewed my post for today’s link up I felt I had fallen short because I wanted to adhere to the 5 minutes but had not fully gotten to my point before it had run out…but I know God knew where my point was going and perhaps others will too. There’s always next Friday.. :). Thanks again this was an encouragement.

  14. This was an excellent post and I so resonate with the flexible rules. Just last week I had to do a second post on the word Belong, because I had words that had to come out.

    And this week, @HeartsonGuard scheduled a post and called it “throwback” FMF because she is on vacation.

    I love the flexibility of writing and remembering the importance of sharing our story. Thank you also for permission to write the prompt and NOT post it. Once in a while I have felt that I should have kept it to myself.

    1. Oh there were some fabulous quotes from Allume and Blissdom about the fact that we don’t have to post everything we write. Annie Downs has such wisdom on that topic.

      Here’s to letting the words and the story come out…

  15. Oh how I love this!! I am THE biggest rule-breaker at FMF. In fact, I edit the paragraph at the end, because I just want to be as honest as possible. But like you, the word always brings something up and God uses it in surprising ways. I also like to write on Friday because I need time to mull it over…time to think and ponder and allow God to teach my heart. I have often succumb to the guilt of not “following the rules” but the experience of the writing and the amazing community at FMF have allowed me to overcome it and join in anyway. I am so glad to know, I am not alone. xoxo

    1. I know, I think that putting “inspired by Five Minute Friday” might be more honest for most of us! 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only one who needs to mull it over. And yes, yes, the amazing community is what FMF is all about.

  16. Awww, your post is so beautifully written! I’ve been able to write a few… and some are still in drafts, apparently just for me and God- lol… I’ve been even a bit down lately because I’ve missed so many and never even got the chance to do it on a “Tuesday”. Sooo your post today, was just what I needed! I love to write and the Lord has used so many of these word prompts just in my private little space and heart! I’ll have to keep at it, WHEN I can and HOW I can =) Thanks Gretchen! =)

    1. Yes, yes, keep at it, Carrie! And even if the link-up is past, it doesn’t mean you can’t write about the prompt later if it really resonates with you. And perhaps some of your most important posts will be the ones that are just for you and God. <3