It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway
Writing exercises are a great way to get started particularly if you’re suffering from the dreaded writers’ block or just don’t know how to actually begin writing, they’ll open the creative door and get those juices flowing!
If you’re not being creative on a day-to-day basis it can be difficult to tap into that side of yourself at will when you decide to sit down and write. Writing exercises are just the thing to switch off the editorial part of your brain and access the imaginative side. Remember these exercises are not about the destination but the journey.
Here are some writing exercises to help you become a better writer:
1. Character Crafting
Take a character you want to write about and draft a character sketch of them. At the top of the page write their name, age, where they live and then fill in the detail of their lives. Write about who they are, what their relationship status is, their likes and dislikes, what they eat, dress, work at, their hobbies. Build a three dimensional picture of who your character is and grow it so it is rich in detail. You want to get to know this person inside out so you can anticipate how they would move through their world. Go big and go small, include information on their family and what they look like right down to detail like the type of coffee they drink and how they sleep. Think about what their political, religious and social beliefs are and get to REALLY know them. If you know them well you will write them true. They will talk, act, smile, work, love, live and do everything in line with the visualization of who you think they are. They will leap from the page when you have this knowledge of them!
2. Sentence Structuring
Find one page you have written at least a week or more ago so it is not to fresh and start with that. Now take every sentence you have written and rewrite it so that you remove 1-3 words from that sentence. The whole sentence will need to be restructured to make it work but this exercise will help you edit your writing and reduce your words to the essential, contributing ones only. By discarding the dispensable words your writing will be sharper, tighter and more efficient.
3. Writing Prompts
Take a book from your bookshelf. If you write fiction chose a fiction one, if you write non-fiction chose a non-fiction one. Take one paragraph at random in the book and rewrite it using different words, phrasing and sentences, ensuring that you don’t reproduce what the author has written. It can end up completely different to what the author intended, don’t worry about the outcome. The purpose is to get you thinking of alternative ways of describing things, people. places and action. This is a good exercise for finding different ways to say the same thing and will flex your creative brain and help you start you accessing your wider range of vocabulary.
Other articles you might like…
Setting up a bookclub? Read our guide to how to start one.
Writing a novel? Check out our library of writing resources.
Honing your craft? Check out our favourite writing books.
Practicing your skills? Try out our general writing exercises.
Submitting your novel? Check out our Dos and Don’ts.
Don’t just take our advice. Check out Orwell’s Rules for Writers.
Just starting out? Read our advice for new writers.
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