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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Importance of Writing Exercises

by Carlie Cullen


You sit down at your computer for the first time of the day, open up the document ready to dive into your latest work of art and what happens? You struggle to get started. Once you get into the flow, you’re fine, but it’s those first few painful minutes where you suddenly doubt yourself. So why is this? Why does it happen?

Your brain and creativity, like any other muscle in your body needs warming up before you start to really exercise it. Put it this way – would you run a marathon without stretching your leg muscles first? Would you try bench pressing a huge weight without easing into it with lesser weights first? Not if you’ve got any sense you wouldn’t!

You would end up with painful pulled muscles and ligaments which would seriously inhibit your ability to do everything you’d normally achieve without thinking about it.

So why strain your creativity in the same way?

A five or ten minute writing exercise completely unconnected to your current ‘Work In Progress’ will warm up those muscles in your brain and get the creative juices flowing.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

·         Free Writing – pick any word at random and write whatever comes into your head about that word. Don’t stop to correct spelling mistakes or grammar, just keep writing.

·         Pictorials – pick any picture from a newspaper or magazine and write about what you see. Describe the environment, describe any people in it, describe any feelings the picture invokes.

·         Photographs – choose one of your own photographs and write about the day it was taken. Where was it? Why were you there? Who were you there with? Describe the scenery or buildings. Talk about any people in the photograph; who they are, what they mean to you.

·         A lyric from a song – it may be an unfamiliar song you hear on the radio or a new CD, or one that you know particularly well. What feelings does that lyric invoke in you? Does it fill you with joy or happiness? If so, why? Does it make you sad and if so, why? Does it make you remember events from your past? If so, what, and how does that affect you now?

·         Look out of the window and choose an object or person/couple you see. Describe it/them. If it’s a person, wonder about what sort of life you think they lead, where they’re going. Look at how they’re dressed. If it’s a building, what sort of people do you think live there, what are their lives like? Describe what you imagine.

·         Everyday objects – choose a random object from your house and build a mini story around it. It could be something as basic as a ball of string, a rolling pin, a candle, a pack of playing cards, a box of matches. The list is endless.

As you can see, there are so many possibilities of things you can write about to exercise that muscle before you attempt to begin on your latest project. And because the creative juices are already flowing, you will find it much easier to pick up where you left off with your project.

If you can discipline yourself to spend those few minutes doing your warm up exercises, I’m sure you’ll find those moments of doubt and struggle disappear, and your writing will be all the richer for it.

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