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Writing Exercises Can Get You in a Writing State-of-Mind

by The Procrastinating Writer on June 17, 2009

courtesty of lu_lu

courtesty of lu_lu

By Jennifer Blanchard

When it comes to exercising, it’s always recommended that you do some kind of warm-up beforehand, such as stretching or spending five to 10 minutes on the treadmill. This warm-up not only helps your body prepare for a more vigorous workout, but it gets you in the mood for exercise, as well.

Well…the same goes for writing. If you find it difficult to get in the mood to write, you should try some writing exercises.

As they say, writing begets writing (do they actually say that? Or did I just make it up?). That means the more you write, the more you’ll want to write.

It can definitely be hard to get in a writing state-of-mind, which is why warming up with some writing exercises can be extremely helpful.

A writing exercise is merely one technique to get you in the writing mood–but a really good technique!

Many writers start out their writing days with a short five-minute exercise to get them ready to work on their writing projects for the day.

Here are five of my favorite writing exercises:

  • Pick five people you know and write a short description of each of them.
  • Grab today’s newspaper. Find a headline(s) that interests you and write a story from it.
  • Write an alternate ending to one of your favorite books.
  • Take your favorite fictional character–either from one of your favorite books or one of the characters you’ve created–and drop them into an unknown world. See what happens.
  • Go to a coffee shop or local mall food court and eavesdrop on people talking around you. Write down snippets of their conversation in your writer’s notebook. If you want, create a story from what you hear/write down.

There are lots of great writing exercises on the Web. Just go to Google and type in “writing exercises.”

Or if you’re interested in having a ton of writing exercises available offline, I highly recommend The Writer’s Idea Book. Jack Heffron is amazing, and he’s created more than 400 pages of writing prompts (his word for exercises). Heffron’s idea starters are not only a great way to warm up, but can also help you come up with story ideas you can actually use. I use this book constantly. I always keep it within arms reach.

Another great creative exercises book is called Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield. This book isn’t just for writers, it’s for any creative person who needs a boost. I use this book when I’m writing for my full-time job at HRTools.com.

What writing exercises do you do? How do they work for you?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 annette young June 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Great blog.
I find using writing exercises are a great way to help boost creativity, I use them all the time when teaching.

2 The Procrastinating Writer June 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

@annette young Thank you. The writing exercises from all the creative writing classes I’ve taken have really helped me not only generate ideas, but learn about different writing techniques, such as giving a character a name with meaning or writing descriptions.

3 A Mom's Choice July 6, 2009 at 12:10 am

I’ve run into times where I cannot seem to get a word down for my book. The warm up exercises for writing makes total sense. I have a book full of writing exercise that’s called Write Brain, its a writers digest book. I love the art work along with writing prompts in this book. BTW I have subscribed to your blog. Lots of information for an aspiring novelist.

Thanks for sharing.

4 The Procrastinating Writer July 6, 2009 at 8:57 am

@A Mom’s Choice That book sounds great! I’ll be sure to check a copy out. Thanks for sharing.

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