I once gave a presentation where, ten minutes in, I asked attendees to do a writing exercise.
I could feel the groans they shifted in their seats, grimacing as though I had offered pickle juice for their tea instead of cream. For a second, I considered saving face by saying, “Just fooling, haha,” even though the exercise was really cute: Write a Dear John letter from a fairy tale character to their significant other. But no, it was part of my class plan. I like sticking with plans. So I had everyone put pen to paper, sensing potential presentation disaster.
They did it. I did it. And guess what?
IT WAS AMAZING and everyone enjoyed it! The shared letters were hilarious, and mine from Prince Charming to Cinderella was actually quite amusing as well. Seeing their responses confirmed something that we all know:
Writing exercises are awesome … once you get started.
They’re like working out–something you dread but a few minutes it, you feel those creative juices flowing and new ideas sparking, strengthening your mental muscles and getting you in the habit of writing. In January, I made a goal to do one writing exercise a week. For June, however, I’ve upped that to one a day.
If you’d like to challenge yourself as well … whether one a week or once a day, here’s my favorite:
5 Places to Find Writing Exercises
Of course Pinterest had to go first. It’s where you can find everything for anything! I spent a delightful hour on my porch the other night pinning so many pins that my eyes turned buggy. To find your own, search for “writing prompts” or “writing exercises.” Then prepare to go buggy.
2.) Writing Challenge App
I love this app! For each writing exercise, you start with Step 1, then only you can view at the time, which in this case begins with the sentence: He was his greatest enemy.
You can then either hit Another or OK to start the time that you can change in the settings. (I have mine set to four minutes.) Once the time is up, Step 2 will appear with instructions on what to add next, like a character who finds a key.
You then write, write, write until Step 3 throws everything for a loop.
Aren’t loops fun? So is this app. Definitely worth the $2.99 for me!
3.) Books with Writing Exercises
My current favorite is one I picked up from the Barnes & Noble clearance rack for $4.00, Complete The Story. Each of the 300 some lined pages (I’m guessing here) starts with a fictional prompt such as:
At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choice was…
Then you fill in the rest with whatever your mind can conjure. In my case, it ended with murder. Bwahahaha.
4.) What’s up on Wattpad?
There are lots of fun writing prompts over on Wattpad like this one by Wowwhatageek. And hey, while you’re there, why not post a collection of your own short stories from prompts? I did just that with Polished Messes and I gotta tell you.
It’s been lots of fun. And has me WRITING. Mission accomplished!
5.) Random Story Title Generator 2.0
I first discovered this gem of a website through Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenges. You just click on Generate Titles, selecting a genre first if you’d like, and boom, you get a list of five. Choose one and that’s the title of your next writing challenge!
I just got one for The Lead Bones Without the Ticket. Huh. Interesting!
Oh, and speaking of Chuck Wendig…
6.) Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge
He’s an awesome writer with a kick-ass blog that absolutely makes me laugh out loud … which is a lot since I’m more of an internal laugher when it comes to reading. Once a week, he posts a new challenge that’s due the following Friday at noon. His word count varies between 1,000 to 2,000 words so this isn’t one I do on a daily basis.
Participants are also welcome to share their story on their blog and leave a link on Chuck’s challenge post. I’ve yet to do this. Because I am a wimp. It’s something I’m working on.
I hope you enjoyed this Friday Five and that it encourages you to make writing exercises a habit! Do you have any great resources for prompts, exercises or challenges? Please share in the comments … because I’d love to see it!
Have a great weekend and happy writing. 🙂