4 Left-Brain Exercises to Jumpstart Your Writing

Publish date:

As writers, we're constantly on the hunt for new ideas but sometimes we may not be looking in the right places or simply need to refresh our writing routine. If you are looking for writing inspiration, read this excerpt from Your First Novel and find new ways to challenge yourself and your writing.

how to find writing inspiration | writing exercises

Only about one out of every billion humans will sit down one day, having never written a word, and produce a masterpiece. Writing is mostly practice. Think of the number of laps a track star runs before she breaks a record, or the number of hours a dancer spends at the barre before he’s ready for a performance. There’s nothing wrong with hoping your first draft will be brilliant—hope is required—but know that it’s normal to need to practice before you succeed.

Writing exercises give you something else to focus on so you don’t trip over this word or that comma. You want to keep your eye on your idea. Here are some exercises to warm up your right brain and satisfy your left brain’s desire for a workout.

  • Timed Writing Sessions. Find a timer—your watch alarm, an egg timer, but not an hourglass—you want it to make noise so you don’t break concentration by glancing up to see if you’ve gone on too long. Set the timer to fifteen minutes and start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write—no one need ever see it. You can write about your characters or what you dreamed the night before. The trick is to keep your fingers moving on the keys or your pencil scratching on the paper. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. Don’t stop to think or rewrite. Just write at full speed. Now read it. You might end up with a great sentence or idea for your novel, or you might have nothing you want to save, but it doesn’t matter. The point was to warm you up.
  • Journals. Write in a journal or diary each day before starting to work on your novel. It doesn’t matter if you write a list of what happened the day before or your innermost fantasies—the act of putting words on paper is warming you up.
  • Vocalization. You can literally talk aloud to yourself, or you can dialogue with yourself or your characters on paper. Talk to your novel. Ask where it hurts. Don’t be surprised when it starts answering back. Play truth or dare with your hero. Play twenty questions with your villain.
  • Books on Tape. You can turn your commute to the office into a grown-up story time. Browse your public library. Look for research materials, novels in your genre, and writers who inspire you.

Stay tuned for more writing exercises from Your First Novel!

Buy the book now!

6 Lessons of Writing for Novelists

6 Lessons of Writing for Novelists

As the author of 16 novels, Wendy Wax shares her top 6 tips for novelists to help their writing journey go as smoothly as possible.

Elyssa Friedland: On Letting Setting Guide You

Elyssa Friedland: On Letting Setting Guide You

When author Elyssa Friedland settled on the setting for her latest novel, Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, the characters and plot came to her. Here, she discusses the importance of setting.

Alyson Gerber: On Writing Difficult Topics for Young Readers

Alyson Gerber: On Writing Difficult Topics for Young Readers

Critically acclaimed author Alyson Gerber discusses how she tackled the topic of disordered eating in her latest middle-grade novel, Taking Up Space.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Annual Writing Competition, Submission Guidelines, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce the extended Annual Writing Competition deadline for 2021, details on how to submit your writing to Writer’s Digest, and more!

Amorak Huey: On Stalling Out After Publication

Amorak Huey: On Stalling Out After Publication

Poet Amorak Huey hit a creative roadblock after publishing his latest poetry collection Dad Jokes From Late in the Patriarchy. He shares his cure (and more!) in this article.

From Script

New Original Podcasts, Videos, and Understanding Data as a Screenwriter (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, Script releases brand new audible and visual content!

Summer Writing Activities for Writers

8 Summer Writing Activities for Writers

Summer is upon us, so here are 8 summer writing activities for writers to consider as the temperature rises.

Books and Authors to Check Out in 2021

71 Books and Authors to Check Out in 2021!

Need a book to read in 2021? Want to find a new author to check out? Then, explore this list of 71 books and authors featured in our author spotlight series in a variety of genres.

How Do I Get My Poetry Published?

How Do I Get My Poetry Published?

Learn how to get your poetry published, whether you're trying to get a poem or an entire book of poems published.