Writing exercises

Here I’m offering three exercises that you’ll hopefully find helpful, particularly when you’re feeling stuck.

The Breakfast Exercise
Unsure you have something to say? My contention is we all have plenty to say as long as we allow ourselves to pause, reflect and digress. Here is an exercise that helps to write interestingly about mundane stuff:

Describe your breakfast today.

  • Where were you?
  • What were you eating & why?
  • What were you thinking about?
  • Did this activity trigger any memories/associations?
  • What does the act of having breakfast mean to you?
  • Any other thoughts you have on the subject matter?

Voice: Finding Your Own Vocabulary
Are you struggling to find/hone your voice? I’m often concerned with this writing aspect. Finding the words that are right for you is a crucial part of developing a unique voice. Here is something that can help:

  1. Write 15 words you love
  2. Write 15 words you dislike
  3. Write four sentences related to your work. In two use words you love, in the other two use words you dislike, then contemplate the difference.


Getting to know your character
Are you finding it difficult to get to know your fictional characters and/or differentiate them from yourself? Try this:

  • Choose a character from your project and let her/him take a walk in a place you know well
  • Describe this place from this character’s perspective:
    • What does (or doesn’t) s/he notice?
    • How does s/he feel about what she notices?
    • What thoughts do the things s/he notices trigger in her? It can be memories, social critique, enjoyment or disgust etc.
  • How do your character’s impressions of, and responses to, the place differ from yours?