Wednesday, August 24, 2011

20 Exercises to Build Your Writing Power

Most people understand that physical exercise is good for you; it releases endorphins. These are feel-good hormones. Writing exercises can release your creative juices, flex your mental muscles, and build your writing power. As they say, “Practice makes perfect.” To that, I’ll add that consistency makes you a much more powerful and confident writer.

Practicing writing will expand your vocabulary, generate new ideas, give new perspectives, and sharpen your grammar and sentence structure skills. Try writing in various ways. Use a timer and just write without trying to be perfect. Write from the perspective of a different time period, or use the voice of an animal. You’ll be surprised that once you start writing from these fresh angles, you may not be able to stop!

When you find yourself staring at a blank page awaiting inspiration, use one of these ideas to spark your imagination. These are not useless exercises, but are designed to prepare you for your piece de resistance. Try these exercises knowing that they will not be published. However, what you learn from them will be valuable when you write your next manuscript.
  1. Imagine a friend walks into the room. Write a short description of what you see, hear, and think.
  2. Watch a TV show with the sound turned down. Make up your own dialogue.
  3. Describe a room in your house. What do you see? What do you like? What do you dislike? What would be your ideal room?
  4. Look out the window and describe what you see. Use different viewpoints: from your car, a train, your living room or kitchen.
  5. Pretend you are a reporter for a glossy magazine and “interview” a famous character. Make it as spicy as you like
  6. Choose a newspaper article and write what happens afterwards.
  7. Change an existing piece of work from first to third person, or vice versa.
  8. Describe your earliest childhood memory: your home, a vacation.
  9. Consider your career. What one theme has been a thread throughout your career? Describe it and how it has helped you succeed.
  10. Describe the most important thing in your life.
  11. Remember a dream you had and write the details.
  12. Think of your top 5 wishes and write about them: why are they important, what do you expect to gain, who else in involved, how will they be fulfilled?
  13. Pretend you’re having a difficult conversation with another person. Write your true feelings.
  14. Write for 15 minutes and develop a story on what happens after the elevator door opens.
  15. Open the dictionary and point to a word. Write an essay about that word.
  16. Watch a movie or TV program, and notice the people in the background. Write a story from their perspective.
  17. Close your eyes and imagine a landscape. What do you see, smell, hear?
  18. You’ve found a key. What does it unlock?
  19. Imagine an airport at midnight. Write about what is happening. Then imagine it at midday. Notice the differences.
  20. You are giving a speech to an eager audience about a topic on which you are an expert. Write out what you will share with this audience. What did they come to hear? What one concept do you want to leave them with?
The list for ways to hone your writing skills is endless. You’ll notice that the more you write, the more creativity will be unleashed. What other writing prompts or exercises can you think of to help yourself and other authors hone the craft of writing?

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