Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September is the new January and writing exercises

Tip of the Day: try out some of these fun writing exercises?

Fall to me always feel more like the start of the year than the actual New Year. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I've been in school more years of my life than I've been out of it. It's easy to recall the feelings of picking out a new school outfit, gearing up for a new year, and then starting fresh with all new classes.

As a result, I'm much more reflective and fired up this time of year then in January when we're just at the beginning of snow season and it's about all I can take to de-snow my car in the morning, let alone be productive by writing New Year's resolutions and stuff.

I'm thinking of declaring September the new January in my life.

I've been rearranging the apartment, cleaning out old files, and thinking more and more about exercising. All things I guess normal people think about when setting goals at the beginning of the year. And don't get me wrong, exercise is fun, beneficial, and a good way to stay healthy. But when faced with running 2 miles or eating a cupcake for breakfast, I'm naturally going to be more excited about the cupcake. Every time. Lately, however, I've been more pushed to run along with eating the cupcakes and this has got me thinking about other types of exercises.

Meaning exercises for the writing brain.

I haven't tried many of them over the years. Instead, I like to believe that regular writing is an exercise in and of itself, so why push it further? But I'm not so sure that's true. And I'm starting to think maybe it's time to rethink my status on writing exercises.

Here's a few I think sound interesting:
  • If writing in a coffee shop, pick a person and write down every detail about them. Including mannerisms, appearance, etc. Most of us naturally people watch, but I rarely write it down. Need to try that. And I love the idea of trying it in a group and talking about different things other people notice to push yourself to be more observant.
  • Pick a favorite or not-so-favorite line, paragraph, page, or chapter from a book and rewrite it. Either in a different style, genre (how fun would it be to re-write Princess Diaries as a zombie or vampire book or something like that?), or just in a different way.
  • Write a story from the viewpoint of an ordinary object (like a rug, pen, or something like that). I love the idea of thinking outside of the box, or in this case viewing something from a different angle.
What are some of your favorite writing exercises? And do you think they work in improving your own writing?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious


Kat said...

My mother used to give me writing exercises called "made to order stories." She would make a list of random items in the house--lamp, rug, dog, oven, oak flooring, banister, magazine, chair, etc.--and I would write a story using those items as the "characters." It was fun and really stimulated my imagination. I did the same with my kids, and when I am suffering writer's block sometimes I will just do it for fun and to get my brain moving.

Kate Fall said...

Kat, that's great! When I was a kid and got assigned spelling words in school to use in a sentence, I used to write a story that included all the spelling words. Some teachers appreciated it more than others.

There are great exercises in writing humor in THE COMIC TOOLBOX by John Vorhaus.

DeenaML said...

I totally agree abt it feeling like the new year *now.*

And I need to try #3 on your list with 24 HOURS. I'm still not connecting enough with the characters....