Ten Writing Exercises To Stimulate Your Imagination
Has Your Creativity Dried Up Lately?
How Do You Do It?
“I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I've done that sort of thing in my life, but I've always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don't know why. Because they're harder. They're much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you've completely failed.”
If you are a writer then sooner or later you are going to hear those five words. How do you sit still all day long and write? Where do you get your ideas from? How do you maintain your sanity? Don’t you dry up eventually? What about writer’s block? Don’t you ever get it?
Well the fact is that most if not all writers go through periods when they have a very hard time giving birth to ideas. They feel that everything they write reads like blah, blah and a healthy helping of blah on top. They feel their writer’s voice has booked a ticket for Tahiti and they don’t know when it is returning home to them. They feel like their twelve year old obnoxious daughter has more creativity in her brain than they do; she must, right, because she is constantly inventing ways to upset you.
So this article is for all of you writers who need a little additive poured into your creative gas tank; ten exercises that will act like battery cables to your defunct imagination. I know because I have used all ten and they worked for my tired old brain, so they come with the Bill Holland seal of approval, personally tested and lovingly passed on to you.
Shall we begin? Put your creative hat on and let’s get busy.
ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTIONS
Pick five people that you know fairly well and write a one sentence description for each of them. Concentrate on what makes each of them unique when you are writing your descriptions. This will not only help you to write better article and book summaries, but will also narrow your focus so that you can define and describe characters better the next time you feel in the need to write a novel or short story.
JOIN THE CIA
Okay, I’m kidding, but I do want you to do some clandestine work some sunny afternoon. Take a tape recording devise and go to the city park….or a coffee shop….and record the conversations going on around you.
While you are recording their words, write out a narrative description. Set the scene as though you were writing the scene in a novel or short story. This is great practice for both dialog and painting a scene, two important aspects of writing for anyone attempting a novel or screenplay.
WRITE YOUR BIOGRAPHY
Limit yourself to 500 words and do not write an autobiography. I want you to interview yourself and find out the key events of your life.
Then put it all together in a succinct biography of this new person you just met. This teaches you to delve deeply into a character and also helps you to cut out the superfluous crap and write tighter paragraphs.
SPEAKING OF SUPERFLOUS CRAP
Write a 300 word mini-article about some scene outside. It makes no difference what you are writing about, but you may not use any adjectives or adverbs in your description. Not one single “very” or “beautiful” or “lovely” can be used.
Adjectives and adverbs are quite useful, but they can also become crutches. Doing this exercise will help you to learn the importance of the words we choose; using the correct verbs and nouns will help to enrich your writing.
FIND INSPIRATION IN A MAGAZINE OR NEWSPAPER
Quickly scan…and I do mean quickly…a magazine or newspaper and find an article that interests you. Now use that article as the basis for a story or a scene in a story.
In other words, let’s say you are scanning and you come across an article about Jennifer Hudson changing her hair color to purple. Take that information and write a scene or short story with that “hair change” as the central theme. Don’t tell me you can’t do it; find a way!
DELVE INTO YOUR MAIN CHARACTER
Start a diary about the main character in your unfinished novel. I want you to make a diary entry every day for two weeks. Get into this character. Learn him or her better. Have fun with this and you just might learn some details about your leading man/lady that you never knew before.
Find a short story you wrote way back when and re-write it using a different voice. In other words, if you wrote the story in first person then this time around write it in third person. You just might be surprised how much it changes the impact of the story….and….you just might find you enjoy writing in that new voice.
PICK YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR
Go ahead, go to your bookshelves and pull down a book by your favorite author. Now bring it back to your computer and open it up. Pick out a paragraph that you really like in that book….and re-write it in your own words. Steinbeck, Hemingway, Pluto or Plutarch, makes no difference, just randomly choose a paragraph, capture the central meaning of that paragraph, and then write it in your own words using your own writer’s voice and style.
Why? Because I told you to! LOL
BACK TO CHILDHOOD WE GO
Think back to when you were a child and choose one event that happened to you. Good or bad, just choose one. Now think about the setting….where it happened…how it happened…why it happened. Now re-write that childhood scene as though it were a scene in your new book, and I want you to pay close attention to the five senses. Sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste….incorporate all the senses into the scene you write.
SHALL WE ARGUE?
Sure, why not!
Not really, but I do want you to remember an argument you once had, whether it be with a friend or a family member. Remember the specifics of that argument, what caused it, where it happened, what was the outcome.
Now re-write that scene from the viewpoint of the other person. Remembering how you saw the event is easy; it is not so easy seeing it through the eyes of the person you argued with. Try it! I think you are going to gain an interesting perspective.
Will You Try At Least One Of These Suggestions?
Now That Was Fun, Wasn’t It?
Well I certainly hope it was fun, and if not fun at least it was helpful in kick-starting your imagination and killing your writer’s block.
These exercises will serve one other purpose and I think it is an important one: they will help you to expand and grow as a writer. I firmly believe that one of the worst things that can happen to any writer is that they become stagnant. In a moment of truthfulness I can tell you that my biggest fear is that I will become a poor imitation of the writer I once was….I will become a clone of Bill Holland.
In other words, I will stop growing as a writer and just continue to pour out the same old stuff that I did a year ago.
I have higher expectations for myself as a writer. You, hopefully, have higher expectations for yourself as a writer. Stagnation is a slow and cruel death for a writer, and I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to die yet.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”