Thursday: Writing Exercises

It’s Thursday again, and that means more writing exercises! These are five more exercises that I’ve tried, along with a couple that I’ve yet to test out. I guess I’ll get on with things, then. Here they are:


 

This first exercise is actually one that I haven’t tried before, but it sounds like it could be quite interesting and thought-provoking. It might not exactly help with your writing, but I think that this exercise could help to spark ideas. (I don’t have a good name for this one, though, so I’m just calling it “memories” — kind of boring, I know.)

Exercise #1: Memories

How to do this:

1) Think of one of your favorite memories.

2) Was anyone else present at the time this memory took place? If not, pick a different memory. If there was someone else, move on to the next step.

3) Now that you have a memory picked out, write about what happened — but instead of from your point of view, write it from the perspective of at least one other person who was present.

4) Repeat this with as many memories and/or perspectives as you’d like.


 

This next exercise is one that I’m planning to try really soon, because I need some mythology figured out for my characters’ religion. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and it’s pretty simple.

Exercise #2: Making Myths

1) Come up with at least one myth to explain why something does what it does or is what it is.

2) This is completely optional, but you can use it in your stories if you want to.

And that’s it! I actually found a few ideas that you can write myths for, because I didn’t know exactly what I should write myths about when I first heard of this exercise. So, I thought I’d collect some and share a few, in case anyone else had the same problem. I found these in various places:

  • Why does the sun rise and set?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Why do volcanoes explode?
  • Why do leaves change color?
  • How was the world created?

 


 

The third exercise that I’m going to share today is one that I’ve tried before and quite like — I found it on the NaNoWriMo site, and it is called cyclical sprinting. Using this has been really helpful to me when I need to just sit down and get writing. I hope that it helps someone else, too! Here’s how to do it:

Exercise #3: Cyclical Sprinting

1) First, set a timer for five minutes, and write as fast as you can [a relaxed pace is totally fine, too, but this is aimed at writers who want to get a lot of writing done fast] for the duration.

2) After your five minutes are up, set a timer for fifteen minutes this time. [A short break in between steps is optional.] Again, write as fast as you can until your fifteen minutes are up.

3) Finally, set a timer for ten minutes. Write for the duration. When you’re done, you can total up the amount of words/pages written if you’d like, or you can just celebrate the fact that you’ve just written for half an hour.

[Note: if you want to change the times for this, you can — for example, you could to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 5 minutes again. Or, if you want more of a challenge, you could try 10, 20, 15, etc. It’s up to you.]


This fourth one is an exercise that I actually do a lot, and it can be really entertaining to see the results. (Or it can make me cringe and want to delete everything. It really just depends on my mood, I guess.) I’m not much of a poet (though I do try), but this exercise is still fun. I hope someone else likes it, at well!

Exercise #4: Nonsense Poetry

1) For this, I usually start with a one-word prompt, but it can really be anything that comes into your head, so I guess this step is optional. Anyway, if you want to, pick a one-word prompt.

2) Set a time limit for yourself — I usually give it a minute or two before I stop. Again, this step is optional. (I guess there aren’t really any rules for this. It is nonsense, after all.)

3) This may be the only actual “rule” that is required for this challenge, and it is this: write. Just write whatever comes into your head, starting with that one word prompt (if you use one), until the timer goes off or you feel like the poem is finished.

[Note: the “poems” don’t have to follow any kind of format at all. The only thing it needs to do is exist, and you’ll hopefully have gotten something inspiring out of it, or at the very least had fun doing it.]

Here are a few examples of one-word prompts, in case you were wondering:

  • acute
  • combustion
  • manipulation
  • ominous
  • duplicate
  • colossal
  • xylophone

I try to make them fairly uncommon words, but it doesn’t really matter. You can use whatever words you’d like.


The last exercise that I’ll share with you today is another one from the NaNoWriMo forums: Playing Card Word Counts. This one may look a bit complicated at first glance, but it’s actually very simple. I’ve done it a few times, and I like it a lot. I’ll probably be doing it again today, actually. Here’s the instructions:

Exercise #5: Playing Cards

For this, all you have to do is draw a playing card or two (or more, if you choose) and write the number of words that goes with it (listed below).

The goal is to do this every day, so as to get rather random daily goals, but you can do it as often (or occasionally) as you want.

[Note: you can also do this the somewhat easier way, which is to write for the amount of minutes that goes with each card. If you do this, you might want to choose more between two and five cards, but it’s your decision. (This way can be a bit nicer if you’ve got limited time on any given day.)]

Here are the cards, and their “values,” I guess you could say:

Ace: 100 words // 1 minute

Number Cards: [#]x100 (e.g., 3=300, 10=1,000) // [#] of minutes (e.g., 5=5 minutes)

Jack: 1,200 words // 12 minutes

Queen: 1,400 words // 15 minutes

King: 1,600 words // 18 minutes

Joker: 1,800 words // 20 minutes

Below is an example of some randomly picked cards (generated on Random.org, which is a great resource if you don’t have dice, cards, etc. at home):

I got a 3 of Clubs and an 8 of Spades, which means that I would have to write 1,100 words (300+800) today, if I were doing this challenge.

If I were doing the number-of-minutes version, I would have to write for 11 minutes today. (I probably would have added another couple of cards to that — I got a 10 of Clubs and a 7 of Clubs, which makes a total of 28 minutes of writing to do.)

[Hopefully that all makes sense. If you’ve got any questions about anything, please let me know and I’ll try to explain it in a clearer way.]


Finally, there’s the daily writing dare.

Writing Dare

I dare you to write a to-do list for your villain/antagonist. (If the antagonist isn’t an intelligent being, you could ignore this, or try it anyway. It might be even more interesting to figure out what it would have on it’s to-do list if it wasn’t a human or the like.) I think this could be a cool character building exercise.


As always, thank you for reading! I hope some of these things inspire you and are helpful. Please let me know what you think, or share any writing exercises you like to do that may not be listed here!

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