Skip to main content

4 Left-Brain Exercises to Jumpstart Your Writing

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!

From Our Readers

What Book Ended in a Way That You Didn’t Expect but Was Perfect Anyway?: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers question: What book ended in a way that you didn’t expect but was perfect anyway? Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

From Script

A Deep Emotional Drive To Tell Stories (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read interviews with filmmakers Wendey Stanzler and Maria Judice. Plus a one-on-one interview with Austin Film Festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan.

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Award-winning author Paul Tremblay discusses how a school-wide assembly inspired his new horror novel, The Pallbearers Club.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: An Interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU courses, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top websites by and about agents as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Author Ashley Poston discusses how she combined her love of ghost stories, romance, and books into her new romance novel, The Dead Romantics.

Choosing Which Movements To Put in Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Choosing Which Movements To Put in Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how much of a fight's details to actually put into a story, and how even with fight scenes sometimes less is more.

5 Research Tips for Writing Historical Fiction, by Piper Huguley

5 Research Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Author Piper Huguley shares her five research tips for writing historical fiction that readers love and writers love as well.

Announcing 40 More Plot Twist Prompts for Writers!

Announcing 40 More Plot Twist Prompts for Writers!

Learn more about 40 Plot Twist Prompts for Writers, Volume 2: ALL NEW Writing Ideas for Taking Your Stories in New Directions, by Writer's Digest Senior Editor Robert Lee Brewer. Discover fun and interesting ways to move your stories from beginning to end.