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Seven Easy Writing Exercises

Updated on January 12, 2014
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

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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    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      3 months ago from Central North Carolina

      Wendy, You might be surprised what flows out of your pen!

    • profile image

      Wendy Harder 

      3 months ago

      Thanks, Donna! I have never tried free writing. I imagine that even if I'm not writing poetry per se I would still gain a lot by using these tools. I'll give it a try.

    • Rezaul Tipu profile image

      Rezaul Tipu 

      3 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      I really get ideas from your showing process to start writing. I hope this way a beginner can start writing and day by day he/she will be expert in writing. Hope it will be implemented by the beginners for commencing writing.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I know these are good exercises... I've tried them at different times... perhaps I'll try them, again. Thanks for sharing on this neat hub! ;-)

    • nochance profile image

      Chloe 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Now this is an amazing list of writing exercises. Thank you. This is definitely going on my list of articles to promote during National Novel Writing Month.

    • Plapa profile image

      Plapa 

      8 years ago from Portugal

      Oh my god! That hub is just perfect! Seriously, that exercise seem pretty good.They are pretty simple. If I do each one a few times, my writing skills will be very improved. Great ideias, great hub!

    • JDove-Miller profile image

      JDove-Miller 

      9 years ago from YOUNGSVILLE

      That was mean, Warrenton S. Jones!

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 

      9 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Hi Donna. Great ideas to enable a person to exercise the writing skills. I benefitted a lot from your hub. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Anthony James Barnett - author 

      9 years ago

      Some good points here. Well done. You echo some of the things I've been preaching.

    • profile image

      Dabu 

      9 years ago

      hi

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Hi Matty, thanks for stopping by and giving my hub a read!

    • profile image

      matty 

      9 years ago

      lol, Donna. I love the BBS and don't find it trite at all.

      I'm glad to find you pluggin' it here :) !

      ~matty

    • donnaleemason profile image

      donnaleemason 

      10 years ago from North Dakota, USA

      Lol Donna. I enjoyed the hub. Will have to try it. thanks.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      10 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I am sure you are right Mr. Jones. I look forward to reading your hub with some great suggestions. Of course, not all our readers have had your experience and I am sure what you share will be a benefit. I wasn't born in the 20s and 30s so missed that course.

    • ridendurance profile image

      ridendurance 

      10 years ago

      I enjoyed the article Donna. Free writing is a lot of fun and more people should try it. I think a lot of people don't realize what fascinating stories they have to tell until they get started.

    • profile image

      Warrington S jones 

      10 years ago

      Sorry, I'm not going to agree - its appears to be utterly boring and done to death. My God, this sort of material came out with the ABC School Of Journalism Correspondence course in the 1920s ans 30s. There are far more interesting ways of stretching the brain,

    • profile image

      Barbara 

      10 years ago

      I'm going to link to this one, Donna. Another tip I give people is to record themselves simply telling the story. It can help them develop a conversational tone when they put it into words.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      10 years ago from Central North Carolina

      We non-fiction writers live to find professional talkers to interview for our aricles.

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 

      10 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Well Donna, This hub exposes the real me. I must be a profeesional talker.

      Good hub and I like your ideas. I am what I refer to as an inspired writer. When I get wound up I can go and go, but I admire those of you who can consistantly put good stuff out there and make it interesting.

      NEIL

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