Exercises to keep you writing through the weekend


I’ll be writing a lot this weekend. My second submission for my fiction workshop is due on Monday.  This time, I plan to submit a revision, rather than something brand new. It’s a story I’ve been working on and I just feel done with it…. I read somewhere that when revisions stop improving a story and just make the story different, you know it’s time to bid the story farewell. You’ve done your best with it. The thing is: sometimes our best isn’t enough. I’ve realized this lately, that not all stories will see the light of day, will be published. That some are just part of the practice, stepping stones towards better, deeper, truer work. So, I shall give this story its final workshop, a sort of tribute to it, the final improvement and then I’ll send it out into the world. And I’ll move on.

To get into the writing groove this weekend, to get my revision on, I plan to warm up with a lot of writing exercises. Not only do these exercises really stretch my writing muscles, but they also nudge my imagination, slowly waking it up; they allow you to you sort of hitch into your unconscious. Here are two good ones:

1.      This comes from Julia Cameron, from her book The Right to Write.  (Please note that I’m paraphrasing here) Pick 5 objects in your home and describe them in a nonsensical manner, just write whatever comes to you. Write what the objects remind you of; the first words or phrases you think of. Don’t think too hard about it… For example, I chose bird chime and what I wrote was: reminds me of a vortex, the country, a piece of art. I want to play with it. THEN, choose 5 different objects and describe them with meaning, apply nostalgia to them. The goal is to get to the heart of things, to make a true connection. I chose beach rock and wrote this: I think of the girls, their stringy blond hair hard with salt. I think of their laughter and innocence. I think of home, true home, where life always seems blue sky, postcard good. This is a great exercise. It helps me connect to that deeper place… you think a lot about diction, language, about metaphor, simile, images…


2.      Okay, second exercise: Fold a piece of paper in half. Write VERBS on the top of one side, NOUNS on the other. Next, choose two different professions. I chose cook and carpenter.  Under the verb column, write verbs that associate with one profession (cook). Do the same for the noun column with the second profession (carpenter).  After you have a list of 10 verbs & 10 nouns, you must write a sentence including a verb and noun from the same column. (Make sure you don’t look at the other column when you’re originally writing the list out). This is a great exercise, too, makes you think about word choice, originality, strong verbs, sentence structure, rhythm, and much more.

Happy writing, everyone and have a great weekend!  Oh, and if there’s any more “best writing advice I’ve received,” drop it in the comments section. I want to add some more to the collection before posting them next week.

“I never know when I sit down, just what I am going to write.  I make no plan; it just comes, and I don’t know where it comes from.”

-D.H. Lawrence



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0 thoughts on “Exercises to keep you writing through the weekend

  1. Kate

    Daniel, Organized? Ha! No, I certainly struggle to stay organized. I basically compose all writing exercises longhand in a bunch of notebooks. I usually just let them live there, they never really make it to the computer. I have a bunch of file cabinets where I keep old notebooks and I do find myself flipping through them for inspiration. Lately I’ve been writing my fiction longhand, too, as I feel less pressure to "get things right." I feel more freedom and I just try to get everything down. Later, when revising, I type the stories up, adding and removing bits and pieces.