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Seven Easy Writing Exercises

Updated on January 30, 2019
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Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.

The writer must exercise her/his writing "muscles" daily to improve as a writer the same way an athlete must exercise to improve in the sport. Most of us are familiar with free writing, but to break the monotony I am sharing a few more ways to exercise our writing muscles.

1. Sit on your front porch or patio with a notebook and write what you see, hear, smell, and feel. Do this exercise at different times of day each day for a week: dawn, midmorning, noon, afternoon, evening, late night. Go back and read to see how different the environment is depending on time of day.

2. When you go out to lunch or dinner eavesdrop on the people sitting near you. There is usually someone loud enough that you can do this without being obvious. Take notes. My composition teacher recommended this one when I was in college. It is a great way to study dialog and get character ideas.

3. Listen to instrumental music and free write for ten minutes, letting your mind go wherever the music takes it. Do this when there are no outside distractions. Try this with different kinds of music.

4. Describe your favorite food without mentioning its taste: how it looks, smells, texture, and how it makes you feel. This exercise will help you use all of your senses in your descriptive writing.

5. Take your dictionary, close your eyes, open it, and put your finger on a page. Open your eyes and write the word down that is under your finger. Do this five times. Now, write a story, essay, or poem using those five words. Last time I tried this exercise my five words were dump, refulgence, confectionary, courier and bird.

6. Write a character study of yourself. After all, who do you know better than yourself? Answer these character interview questions in first person:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • Are any other people living with you? Who are they?
  • Tell me about your parents. How well do you get along with them?
  • Who else was in your family while you were growing up? How did you get along with them?
  • What did you like to do when you were a child?
  • What were you afraid of when you were a child?
  • What makes you happy now?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What would you change about yourself if you could?
  • What is it that you have never told anyone?
  • What do you want? (This is the key to your story!)

7. Read the newspaper headlines, and write your own stories or poems with the headline as a prompt.

Most of these exercises involve free-writing. Free writing does not self-edit, does not worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. It just gets ideas from your mind to paper. Many writers free-write in a journal everyday for a pre-determined time or number of words or pages.

The writer must exercise her/his writing "muscles" daily to improve as a writer the same way an athlete must exercise to improve in the sport.


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