Writing exercises help your writing, especially if your writing’s going badly.
Let’s say you wake up one morning, and hate your writing. It happens, and it can happen from one day to the next. Suddenly, the thought of writing anything is anathema.
You take a break of a few days or a week, but it doesn’t help. You begin to wonder whether you’ll ever write again. If you have clients and deadlines, your stress level rises.
Although you may not know why you suddenly hate writing, the reasons don’t matter.
Let’s look at some writing exercises which can help.
Fun writing exercises to end procrastination and kickstart your creativity
Writing depends on a smooth interaction between your conscious mind, and your subconscious. You know how this interaction feels. When it’s going well, you spend hours writing, and it seems as if just minutes have passed. You can’t wait to get back to your writing.
When it’s going badly, your writing slows. It’s painful. You want to get up and do something — anything — to escape the misery.
Let’s look at some exercises my students have found helpful.
Use them regularly — don’t wait until you’re procrastinating, or become blocked.
1. Fun: kickstart your writing by drawing something
Drawing for a few minutes before you start writing makes your writing flow. A 2009 article in Scientific American, “An Easy Way to Increase Creativity: Why thinking about distant things can make us more creative”, might hold a clue about why it works.
Before writing, grab some paper and colored pencils, and draw with your dominant, or non-dominant hand. Not an artist? That’s OK. It doesn’t matter what you draw. Just scrawl lines and circles. Borrow your children’s markers if you don’t have any colored pencils.
Try drawing zen doodles (also known as zen tangles) — you’ll find many online tutorials on drawing them.
2. Can’t get inspired to write? Grab a coloring book
A few years back, coloring to relieve stress was a huge trend. Adult coloring books were everywhere.
If you’re feeling completely uninspired, buy a coloring book and some pencils. Coloring for 20 minutes a day for a few days should relax you enough for your creativity to ignite.
3. Use story boards for writing fiction
Story boards are used by many creatives, from advertising executives to movie producers — and writers. Basically, a story board is a visual outline.
Although you can buy printed sheets of story board paper, it’s easy to create your own. I grab a sheet of letter paper, and draw two equidistant lines vertically and horizontally. This gives you nine frames.
Alternatively, grab a pad of sticky notes, and stick them onto a sheet of paper or card. Each note is a frame — a scene in your fiction. A tip if you’re using sticky notes: use different colors of notes for your Point of View characters in scenes.
The benefit of using story boards for writing fiction is that they remind you to write in scenes; you can see where your story is headed (and where it’s been) at a glance.
My story boards are always simple little drawings: stick figures, city scapes, home interiors, planes.
Images stimulate your subconscious mind, and they can be information from your subconscious mind too. I’ve noticed that when I feel creative, images swim into my imagination. All I need to do is decode those images into words.
4. Create a mood board for your current book (or for a book you’re planning)
Mood boards are fun to create, and they ensure that you maintain your inspiration for a story. You’ll find lots of instructions for creating mood boards online.
Here’s what I do. I create a Pinterest board for my mood boards. Then, I collect pins for characters, settings, ideas… I make my mood boards secret, rather than public. When I’ve finished a novel, I delete the board. If I think that I may need something on a board later, I use screen captures to save them.
Writing exercises boost your creativity: that’s a good use of your time
Some writers resist writing exercises. Why not try them? Your exercises are practice. Most creative folk practice their art. Musicians practice, as do artists and photographers.
Have some fun with your writing today.
All authors do; no one sets out to write a boring novel.
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