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How to Improve Your Writing- Writing Exercises and Cures for Writer's Block

Updated on October 5, 2016

Writers Block Can Be Frustrating - Learn to Break Through the Walls

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Cracking Through the Dreaded Writer's Block

Writer's block is a condition where our inner writer is struggling to find its voice. From struggling to come up with an idea, to having trouble finishing that novel you have been working on for five years, writer's block comes in many shapes, sizes and forms.

Overcoming writer's block is no easy feat, either. In fact, many writers shy away from their craft because of the dreaded writer's block. Imagine how many talented writers would be creating magnificent pieces if writer's block didn't exist?

Knowing how to break through this block is crucial for all writers.

Everyone is different, every writer is different. There isn't one quick fix that helps all writers break through roadblocks, but there are a plethora of ideas that can help allow your creative juices to start flowing again.

  • Make a writing schedule - whether it is a daily schedule, or a weekly schedule, setting aside time dedicated to your writing and putting the pen to the paper even when you have nothing to say can be extremely helpful
  • Let Go of Criticism - Stop judging what you write, too many writers go unpublished because of fear of what others will think, let go of that fear
  • Practice - Utilize writing practices and writing exercises
  • Journal - Keep a journal with you at all times so you can jot down ideas whenever they come up
  • Read - reading is a great way to help you come up with new ideas and topics

Below you will find several exercises to help you break through writer's block.

This book is one of the many I have utilized to help break through writer's block and improve my writing.

Writing as a Practice

This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don't want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you run anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don't sit on your couch waiting for the moment you feel like running - no, you put on your sneakers and you run. Halfway through the run, you start to smile - you remember why you loved running in the first place.

That is how writing works. Even when you don't want to write, even when you don't think you have anything to say, you still write. Once you are lost in an idea, you wonder what kept you from writing in the first place!

Society would never question a football team practicing on the field, so why do think that it's weird for writers to practice? Sit down right now, give yourself this moment. Write whatever it is that is flowing through your mind.

Don't question it. Just write.

The Writing Process

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Free Form Writing

Free form writing is the simplest method to help writers get their creative juices flowing. There are no rules when it comes to free form writing, but there are some guidelines to help you along the way:

  • Keep your hand moving
  • Don't cross anything out
  • Don't focus on spelling, grammar or punctuation
  • Lose yourself in your writing
  • Don't stop

Your very first thoughts have tremendous energy. Go with them and trust in them. First thoughts can be powerful, and evoke emotion. Don't let any emotions that come up make you stop writing. Instead, write through the emotion - use the emotion to create something beautiful. If you need to cry, cry, and if you want to yell, yell - but whatever you do, don't stop writing.

Writer's Block is Something Every Writer Struggles With

This book has been instrumental to me when I can't come up with a topic to write about.

A List of Topics for Writing Practice

Everyone comes to a point and time when they need a push. We all can recall a time when we sat down to start writing and wound up staring at the paper for hours, only to wind up getting nowhere. Don't beat yourself up, its normal.

Here is a list of writing prompts for those times you just feel stuck:

  • Talk about the light coming through your window. If it's nighttime, focus on the moon, the stars, the clouds. Just look outside the window and write about what you see. Nature can tell many stories if you are still and reflective - truly listening. Alott a quantity of time for your journaling - five, ten, fifteen minutes - and just write.
  • Take out your journal and write down the words "I remember." Again, for an alotted period of time, jot down a long list of memories. It doesn't have to be in chronological order, and it doesn't have to be written down exactly as it happened. Memories just happen to be great ways to get the juices in your brain going, allowing you to break through your writer's block.
  • Pick a color. Now take a ten to fifteen minute walk. While walking, notice anything that matches the color you picked and take note. When you get back from your walk, take out your journal and create a story revolving around what you noticed.
  • Take out your journal and think back to the moment you woke up this morning. Start writing about your day, but don't just skim over what happened. Slow down. Be descriptive. Talk about the intricacies of life, like the smell of your morning coffee brewing or the loud noise of impatient drivers honking on your way to work.
  • Describe what your life would be like if you were an animal. What animal would you be? Where would you live? Be descriptive.

Photographs as Writing Practice

A good photograph is able to tell a story through a single snapshot of time. Because of this, photographs make great inspiration for writing. For this exercise all you need is a good photograph. It is best to use one that you didn't take yourself, because when we take photos, we often attribute a story to the photo automatically, and for this exercise you will be creating the story. That is why it is best to use a photo taken by a friend, or even just a photo you find on the internet.

Once you have a photo, take out your journal. Using only what you see in the photo, create a story revolving around the image. Be elaborate as you can - create personas, a plot, work on character development. Then put it altogether on paper to create a cohesive story.

When you finish. Go back to the same image and create a whole new story. Continue to create as many stories as possible using just that one photograph. You will be amazed how many different plot lines you will come up with!

The More You Write, The Better You'll Get

The "Pick a Show, Create a Show" Writing Exercise

This is a fun writing exercise and is a great way to break through writer's block. Pick any movie or television show that you know pretty well (or look one up). Start off by writing about the beginning of the movie or television show. After you have covered the basics, clear your mind of the rest of the details of the movie or show.

For the rest of the exercise, you get to create how the story unfolds. The best way to approach this exercise is to transition from one genre to another, so you don't wind up back at the original plot. For example, if you start with the beginning of a horror movie, finish it by turning it into a comedy. If you begin with a romance movie, try to transform it into a horror movie.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal Romano

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    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
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      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 2 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      Thank you so much!!!

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 2 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      This is an incredible hub! I feel like I learned so much in the few minutes it took to read, I also bookmarked it for later reference. I am excited to try out some of your strategies. Thank you for the extremely well written piece, it is clear from the beginning that you know what you are talking about. Two thumbs up.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
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      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 3 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      Thanks Kevin!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I really liked this Kathleen. It was uplifting to read those exercises and I will keep them in mind - or come back and read this again. Thanks. I voted it up shared and pinned it.

      Kevin

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      Kathleen Prevost 3 years ago

      Very well done. Your exercises sparkled a couple of ideas for me. I particularly like what you have to say about taking inspiration from nature, to put yourself in a different realm of thought, and to practice writing like an athlete. Thank you.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 3 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      No problem Ms. Dora, I think I may be starting a series of pieces on writing exercises that are designed to target certain people. Stay tuned!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great suggestions! I still have to try the free form writing. Thanks for this presentation.

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