Get Some Exercise Workouts for Better Writing
Some writers say that writing is like music practice: if you miss a day, you'll notice your work isn't as smooth; if you miss a couple of days, you'll really notice; and if you miss a week, other people will notice. So what can you do when you aren't actively working on a story, novel, poem or essay? You can practice. You can exercise. A writing exercise is usually something short that you can complete in an hour or two (or even much less), but which gets your mind working and the words flowing. Often if you don't know where to begin on a new project, or just can't seem to get going on a project already in progress, doing a few exercises will bring on the inspiration you need. Most working writers agree that inspiration almost always comes while they're already writing and not before they start. Targeted Skill-Building
You know those exercises that weight lifters do to target specific muscles or muscle groups? Well, writers can do something like that, too. If you have trouble thinking up things to write about, try an idea-generating exercise. Are your settings little more than backdrops for the action to occur in front of? Maybe a setting exercise would help you find ways to make the most of your settings. Working on one specific aspect of writing separately allows you to focus on only that aspect in a way you can't really do while trying to write a novel (for example). When you're working on something like a novel or short story, you really need to ignore each component in order to create the whole, or else you'll get so worried about the details you'll never get anything done. Doing exercises for each of those details helps them become a part of your writing faster, so that you won't need to consciously think about them. Or Just Have Some Fun
Exercising can be fun, too (really, it can). Writing exercises give you an opportunity to play around with words, to experiment in all sorts of ways without committing yourself to a complete project. Try writing the same scene from many different points of view, try different tenses, different rhythms and rhyme schemes, try not using any adjectives or avoiding all forms of the verb "to be." While you're having fun, you'll also be building your skills as a writer and stretching your limits. Chances are, the results you get in writing exercises will inspire you to try something new in your "real" work. You'll find a growing collection of exercises to try on the Writing Exercises page, or try some of the links to the right. You may also find some of the lesson plans in the For Teachers links useful. So go for it; get exercising and build some writerly muscle! Why I Write An Intent Exercise
Instructions: You probably know why you write, but have you ever had difficulty explaining it to someone else? For this exercise, write for as long as you can. When you think you've written everything, try pushing yourself a bit more--that's usually when the really interesting stuff happens. Put your finished exercise away where you'll find it again. In a few months, or a year, or whenever it seems like a good idea, try the exercise again (without reading any you did in the past). Then compare them. See if your reasons for writing have changed, or if you have expressed them in different ways. 1. Turn to a new page in your writing notebook, or open a new document in your word processor. Make sure you're comfortable, because if things go well, you could be writing for an hour or more. (If you only have a little time to spare, try the exercise anyway; you never know what you might come up with.) 2. Write "Why I Write" at the top of the page. That's your topic for this exercise. 3. Start writing about why you write. Don't spend time thinking about it first, just get right to it. The exercise will work best if you don't think about what you're writing; just write whatever comes out and think about it later. 4. You might find it useful to use...
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