Monday, March 05, 2012

Writing Exercises for Writer’s Block


I don’t know about you, but there are days when I just can’t make headway on my current WIP. For whatever reason, whenever I sit down to work on it, my brain comes to a screeching halt. There could be a zillion reasons for it—my subconscious needs to work out a few more details, I’m tired, certain ideas need to ‘gel’ in my head, I’m frustrated, something feels ‘off,’ etc. There’s another word for this: Writer’s Block.

When this happens, it’s easy to scream and stomp away from your desk, muttering about how you can never get anything done when you actually sit down to write. Or, you can do something else.

When I feel like I’m stuck, I pull out my trusty list of writing exercises. Each time I work on one of these, I do something completely different with it—new characters, new situations, new settings, etc. And, most importantly, I don’t care what kind of quality comes out of it. I can spend thirty minutes writing the biggest pile of crap anyone has ever seen in the writing universe, and I don’t care because no one is ever going to see it. That said, I have had some great ideas come out of it, and then of course it evolves into much higher quality. :)

Anyway, I thought I’d share my favorites with you. 

  • You wake up at the hospital and have no idea who you are. What are you thinking, feeling? And what do you plan on doing next?
  • Create a character with an odd phobia, then put your character in a situation where it arises.  Show us how he/she handles it.
  • Write a page or two of a childhood memory, using all five senses.
  • Write a short story from the perspective of your pet.  How does he view you and your family?  How will you bring his personality to light?
  • You’re taking a walk in the forest and a strange creature jumps out at you. What is it, and what do you do?
  • You're in high school and your dad comes home to find his lawnmower destroyed. How did this happen?


If you're so inclined, feel free to share your efforts in the comments. Who knows, maybe I’ll even share some of my ramblings…the legible ones, anyway. :) Enjoy!

5 comments:

Kelly Hashway said...

Ooh, these are great! Thanks for sharing them, Tabitha.

Tabitha Olson said...

Hope you have some fun with them!

Diane Carlisle said...

I love #2! I can make up any phobia and work on it. All I have to do is imagine there's a spider and the response to it will be the same.

I broke my middle finger once, then set it myself by yanking the bent finger back in place. This...all over a small spider.

Thanks for the arsenal of tips. I will break these out when needed!

Mirka Breen said...

Good ones, Tabitha. Talk about 'getting right to the story...'

Tabitha Olson said...

Diane - yes, that's a great exercise in character development. Even if it's not technically a phobia, everyone is afraid of something. It's interesting to see what our characters do when we trigger that fear. :)

Mirka - yeah, I think that's the best part of these exercises. They really zero in on specific aspects of the story so you can't really cheat the exercise. :)

I think I'm definitely going to share some of my ramblings with these. :)