While I’m in France, teaching writing, sitting by the Mediterranean, eating good cheese and bread, and drinking lots of wine, I’m offering either a collection of writing prompts, story starters, or exercises each week. Today I have a couple of writing exercises for you. I hope you will use them to jump-start your writing!
Sometimes writers think that writing exercises are for beginners. Wanna-bes. Not for serious scriveners like you and me. And then the writing stalls. And you don’t know what to do with yourself. That is when, my friend, you pull out the writing exercises. Because they will help you.
It’s funny, because practitioners of other creative genres rely on exercises and warm-ups as an integral part of their practices–dancers and musicians spring readily to mind. Yet we writers (because I don’t think I’m alone in my sometimes-disdain for them) are far too apt to dismiss them as irrelevant.
When you are stuck, when you have been away from your writing for a while, when you are fishing for ideas—pull out the writing exercises! Here’s why I think they work: because they give you some structure to hang your words on. No longer are you facing the empty page (or screen). You’ve got somebody telling you what to do. Which is helpful when you don’t exactly know what to do.
And here’s my best tip for working with writing exercises: use them in relationship to your current project. This helps me to convince myself that I’m not wasting my time, since I’ll be generating ideas and scenes for my WIP. The other thing I find is that while doing this, ideas for other projects come up. I just had a brilliant (she said modestly) image for a short story appear, for instance.
Here are two that I’ve used over the years. I hope you find them helpful!
I will return to regular love letter programming on September 30th.