Today’s post was inspired Anna Staniszewski, creative writing teacher and author of books for children and young adults. One of Anna’s blogs, StoryBug, focuses on writing exercises.

Are writing exercises sometimes overlook? They allow us to take a break–without the guilt that might drag along, and to be productive while having fun.

I recently benefited from one of Anna’s exercises, one that challenged me to work on my characters’ voices and to make them more distinct. As I read through her blog, I realized how helpful her exercises are at any stage of the writing process:

-If you have never written before but are thinking about it, they provide an opportunity to start without any expectation or pressure on your part. They help you get started with the basics: who is your character, what does he or she want, add to that some unexpected questions.

-If you’re currently working on your first draft, Anna’s writing exercises help make it even stronger. They help you shape the world your story takes place in, and provide you with pretexts to “hang out with,” as opposed to work on, your characters.

-If you are revising, they make for a practical checklist.

Last but not least, they can be a medicine for the dreaded writer’s block.

You can apply any of the exercises to your work-in-progress. I’m smiling as I’m writing this: do you have any fun or odd writing exercises that worked wonders for you?

11 thoughts on “Thursday Tip: The Wonders of Writing Exercises

  1. Nathalie, thanks SO much for your kind words about Storybug! I love coming up with writing exercises and it's great to hear that others find them useful!


  2. I would love to check out Anna's writing exercises!!!Well, I do have an odd one, one that kept me from going back to class. (It was lame anyway) The instructor (she wound up subbing for the real instructor who could not teach the class due to an emergency, it was only 4 classes) had us look at a picture, and told us that we had to write whatever we wanted, but the caveat was that we had to continue writing for 5 minutes, our hand could not stop. I guess she was trying to force us to keep our mind open and thoughts flowing. It was WEIRD. She said to keep the hand going, even if we are not writing, by scribbling circles until we could write something. I was like, um, not a very helpful or productive exercise for ME.


  3. I have never written before June of this year when I accidentally started a blog. I'm pretty new at the whole thing. I have just started trying to write a memoir and am still not sure if I can do it. As for tricks to keep writing? I realized that the office I had my computer in was in the wrong space and just moved it to a new room two days ago. I felt an improvement right away. Thank you for the helpful tips, I need all the help I can get. 🙂


  4. Nathalie! You are a goldmine of information! You've been holding back on us. M- Rocks is tres apropos for this blog.


  5. I LOVE your blog! And will follow it faithfully.One of the most important writing exercises I've done recently came from Jan Mader's blog. She asked us to write an opening sentence of a book. After reading the first sentences of her followers, I revised the first sentences on two of my books and it made all the difference in the world. I find it extremely helpful to read what other people write. I understand the theory behind a grab-you first sentence, but to read samples made the exercise come alive for me.


  6. Cheryl, you cracked me up! How big were your circles? :DLeSan, thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing your experience. *I'm currently listening to the soothing music on your blog as I type this message* I've heard from seasoned writers and have experienced myself that first drafts are generally "messy." Do not be afraid to make mistakes or to feel insecure as you're starting. That you're open to learning is excellent. I don't think writers ever stop learning–but can't speak for others. I have no doubt you can write a draft of the memoir and learn from that experience. :)Pixie, you know your boot camps made a world of difference ;)Seawaif2, I am so touched by your words. You have no idea how many imaginary monsters I had to battle to get started.I will check Jan Mader's blog right away. It sounds really helpful. Thank you for recommending it. :)Note: "Last but least" edited to "Last but not least." Apologies for the typo.


  7. YAY! This is a great blog. I’m adding you to my blogroll. Looking forward to seeing your blog continue to blossom. Can’t wait for all the interviews coming up in January!



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