Writing Exercises

While chatting with another writer blogging about making his book, I realized there’s a need for something on the web: writing exercises.  At least, the last time I looked for some, I didn’t readily find any.

National Novel Writing Month is a type of writing exercise.  50,000 words in 30 days is very definitely an exercise.  But what if you have no clue what to write about at all?  While I usually have some sort of fiction story running through my head, and I’m almost always good for some non-fiction, I can stare forever at a blank journal.  I just don’t do diaries (I note the irony that a blog is pretty well a diary, but I won’t declare this a success just yet; I can keep a diary going for a week or so before it crashes). 

What people need when they’re drawing a blank—be it in a journal or for a creative writing assignment or a novel—is a theme.  A writing exercise.  We had writing exercises in my lower-level creative writing classes and I liked them.  Even if what I turned out was printable directly to the trash can, it exercised my creative thought process and helped get me in the mood to write something that didn’t suck. 

So I’ve decided that I will post a creative writing exercise once a week or so just to help you get the juices flowing.  You don’t have to do it, but if you’ve got major writer’s block, what does it hurt to do it, even if it seems silly?

So, exercise number one: Write at least five pages about a day-in-the-life of a mythological creature.  It can be an average sort of day or an exceptional sort of day.  It can be in the first person or third.  But it has to be something which is not human and not a recognized species of animal.  Please try and stick with mythological creatures from cultures on this planet.  Vampires are allowed, of course, but so are nymphs, satyrs, dragons, fairies, banshees, zombies, witches, demons, angels, etc.  I’ll also allow you the entire Greco-Roman pantheon of gods.  Ghosts are a bit iffy, since there’s a possibility for you to spend five-plus pages talking about what life was like as a human, and the entire point is to write about something which is not human, but I’d allow ghosts if they spent most of their time talking about what it’s like to be a ghost.  Ghosts of dead mythological creatures are definitely allowed and actually encouraged.  Consider this: is Zeus dead?  Does a god die if it’s no longer truly worshipped?  And can it have a ghost?  You tell me. 

For those of you who complete the writing assignment and want to share, post a link to your blog or website in the comments below.  Don’t take yourselves too seriously; feel free to share your story, even if you think it’s so terrible it’s funny.  No one expects the next great American short story to come from a writing exercise.  In fact, no one expects great anything to come from a writing exercise.  This is just meant to get you over your writer’s block, expand your creativity—even get you over the fear of sharing your work with others. 

By the way, I will have a category just for these types of posts, so you can select them in the sidebar and only read them; you don’t have to read all of my other posts just to find them.

And one final note, I’ll periodically share blogs of other writers.  Show them some love.  Dad at Home is a blog by a stay-at-home-dad who is just starting to write his first book.  It’s fantasy, but with an Old West feel.  At least that’s what it is right now; I won’t box the man in.  He may decide that a story about the ghost of an Olympian god is the way he really wants to go.  Just saying.


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