Why Do Creative Writing Exercises?
If you are always primed and ready to pick up your pen (or put fingers to keyboard), and you write on a regular basis, and know what you want to write, and can get it onto paper with ease, then you don't need writing exercises. Congratulations! You are in flow! It's a beautiful place to be!
But, let's say one of the following scenarios (or your own unique blend of something similar) describes your situation:
- You have too many ideas floating around in your head and don't know which one to choose.
- You just finished a project and can't seem to initiate another one.
- You have always wanted to write, but don't know how to get started.
- You get intimidated as soon as you look at a blank page.
- You started writing with great enthusiam, but the energy and excitement have now waned.
- You can do other types of writing, but worry you don't have what it takes to do creative writing.
- You are worried that the great novel won't come out of your pen and that you will write junk.
- You are in the middle of writing something and are stuck and can't seem to move forward.
- You can still hear a critique about your writing from a teacher or peer and this has zapped your confidence.
- You would like to write, but don't seem to have the time or make the time.
- You keep reading about writing (turning it into a spectator sport), rather than actually doing it.
- You know what you want to write, but don't know how to take the first step.
It's hard to believe, but when you can't/won't write, the best thing you can do for yourself is to grab a pen and paper and write. In particular, you should do writing exercises.
? ? WHY ? ?
Because exercises (also known as prompts) rermove the expectations and judgments you have about your own writing. The goal of an exercise is get you to write for the sake of writing and discover or rediscover the joy of writing. Exercises are all about filling the pre-allotted time or the pre-allotted space on the page. Do that, and you have met your goal. Nothing else matters. Not content, not plot, not characters, not spelling. And, to exceed your goal all you have to do is write one extra sentence.
Do enough exercises (The number is different for everyone; for me, it happens to be 2 exercises a day for 3 days), and you will find yourself excited about your 'real' writing. When this happens (and don't force it), it's totally okay to abandon the world of exercises and write what you want to write. Just remember that if you ever find yourself stalled, immediately put your regular writing aside and do some exercises. The exercises will relieve you of the pressure to produce and will once again, get your right brain primed to spew onto the paper without letting your left brain (the nasty editor) get in the way and stop you.
Many people do writing exercises every day because they are not only fun, but also a great way to warm-up before settling in with the day's writing. Others use them to flesh out characters or to experiment with a new genre. As time goes by, you will figure out what works best for you. In the mean time, remember that you can always come back to this website (think of it as a safety net as you take leaps with your writing) for free writing exercises that will help you keep your pen moving.
If you would like to try some writing exercises right now, click here for the Online Story Spinner which will generate millions of creative writing exercises for you. All you need to do is set a timer for ten minutes and you'll be off and writing.
Good luck... and don't forget to have fun!