Hello again! I thought that I would make Thursdays the days where I share some different writing exercises and activities. Some of the ones I’m sharing today I’ve done before, and some I’m planning to try in the future. I find that writing exercises, even if they aren’t directly related to the story/script/poem/whatever you’re writing at the moment, can help to get you ready for writing. Anyway, below are a few exercises that you can try.
Exercise #1: Tortoise Races
Though the name may sound a bit strange, this is one of my favorite exercises. I’ve been using it a lot lately, and it’s really helpful.
1) Set a timer for 10 minutes.
2) Write until the timer goes off.
3) Aim to write 100 words in those 10 minutes.
4) Repeat until you have done this 6 times.
The goal of this exercise is to write 600+ words in one hour. It’s split into smaller time chunks, which makes it seem less overwhelming (at least for me — I am not great with writing for long periods of time, but this helps a lot).
[Note: this is a challenge aimed at slower writers, but if you’re a faster writer, you can adjust the goal to better suit you. For example, I like to aim for 400 – 600 words per 10 minutes, depending on the day. This is totally customizable.]
Exercise #2: 25 Sentences
This one can give you some really interesting results, and is great for generating ideas, if you’re lacking inspiration. I’ve used this before, and I got a few cool story ideas from the sentences I wrote. It sounds really simple — and it is — but it works.
1) Set a timer for 15 minutes.
2) In those 15 minutes, try to write 25 different sentences that start with the word green.
3) If you don’t finish within the 15 minute time limit, feel free to stop where you are at, or to continue until you’ve written all 25 sentences. It’s your choice.
And that’s it! You simply start every sentence with green, and see where things go.
[Note: as with the Tortoise Races, you can customize this. You can change the amount of time you’re given (or take away the time limit altogether), or change the starting word to any other color, or even to a word that isn’t a color. See where things go!]
Here are a few example sentences I’ve written:
Green was the color of my mother’s eyes.
Green jellybeans are my favorite.
Green apples littered the ground around the tree.
Exercise #3: One Minute, Three Words
Again, this is a pretty simple and straightforward challenge, and the results can be kind of crazy sometimes, but who knows? It might inspire you.
1) Randomly pick/generate 3 words.
2) Set a timer for 1 minute.
3) During that period of 1 minute, write something that includes all three of those words.
4) If you use all 3 words — congratulations! You can do it again with new words, if you choose, or you can do something else. If you don’t use all 3 words within the minute — try again. Redo this until you are successful.
[Note: for more of a challenge, feel free to use more than 3 words at a time!]
To find words for this, you can randomly pick some out of a dictionary, etc., or you can use a random word generator, like I do. (Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/2o8iV0n. Or you can look up a different generator on your own. Either way works.)
Exercise #4: Carrot and Stick
Again, this exercise has a bit of an odd name, but it can be really motivating for me. When I would rather procrastinate than write, I use this exercise. It can help a lot. (By the way, this is an exercise from the NaNoWriMo website, which is a great community of writers with a lot of great ideas and exercises, even if you don’t participate in the main challenge.)
1) Set a goal for how long and/or how many words you’d like to write.
2) Plan a reward (the “carrot”) and a consequence (the “stick”) for yourself.
3) Do your challenge, and if you win, reward yourself. If you lose, do whatever you’ve required of yourself.
I realize that this might sound a bit confusing, so here are a couple of examples:
Goal: Write 500 words in 10 minutes.
Carrot: Five minute break.
Stick: Write an additional 100 words.
Goal: Write 1,000 words in an hour.
Carrot: Watch an episode of your favorite TV show.
Stick: Do the laundry.
I think that the best part about this is that you can make the goals, rewards, and consequences whatever you want. (Of course, the consequences should be something that you would rather not do and not just another reward, but that’s a personal thing.) It can also be used for things other than writing — schoolwork, for example, or cleaning.
Exercise #5: The Dice Challenge
The last challenge I’m going to share today is one that I actually haven’t tried yet. It does look like it will be cool, though, and I plan to try it sometime soon. Maybe later today. (This is another challenge from the NaNoWriMo site.)
1) Roll a 4-sided die and multiply your result by 100 (e.g., 3×100 = 300 words). Write that many words.
2) Roll a 6-sided die. If your result is an even number, multiply it by 50 and write that many words. If your result is an odd number, multiply it by 100 and write that many words.
3) Roll an 8-sided die and write for that many minutes (e.g., 4 = 4 minutes).
4) Roll a 10-sided die and multiply it by 100. Then roll 2 10-sided die and add up the results. The former is how many words you have to write, and the latter is how many minutes you have to do it. (If you fail, roll again and repeat, but without the time limit.)
5) Roll a 12-sided die. If your result is a prime number (2, 3, 5, 7, or 11) multiply the number by 100 and write that many words. If your result is not a prime number, multiply it by 50 and write that many words.
This one is a bit longer and more complicated than the others I shared today, but more the fun, right?
[Note: If you don’t have the appropriate dice where you are, you can use an online die roller. The one I usually use is: http://bit.ly/2oUDLgU, but again, you can use a different one if you prefer.]
Hopefully at least one of these helps you with your writing! Please let me know what you think, and if you have any suggestions.
Now, the daily writing dare.
Switch the gender(s) of your main character(s). You don’t have to keep it this way permanently, but it might make a fun and interesting change, if you’re getting a bit stuck with your story.