Monday, November 5, 2007

Writing Exercises: Pen to Paper...Now!

I gave one of my favorite classes this weekend, “Finding Your Creative Voice,” and was reminded once again how valuable (and fun!) writing exercises can be. Though the results of this exercise wasn’t shared, many members of the class reported discovering some interesting things writing memories and free association about “basements” for five minutes. And we had some excellent results from a visualization exercise where everyone spent time thinking about a house they knew well and then writing up a scene set there: some great details that probably wouldn’t have come to the surface without the five minutes first spent visualizing.

Here are two books of exercises I recommend (i.e. steal from) all the time:

--Writing Without the Muse: 50 Beginning Exercises for the Creative Writer, by Beth Baruch Joselow
With this book, you could open to any page and just let yourself go. Sadly, it’s out of print, but it’s easy to find used copies.

--What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
This book is organized by topic, so if you wanted to focus on, say, point of view, you could find a slew of exercises geared to helping you with that.

I would be totally remiss if I also didn’t mention my friend C.M Mayo’s 365 Daily 5 Minute Writing Exercise—yes, one for every day of the year—which can be found here. Here’s today’s exercise…so you have no excuses not to get started!

“November 5: Welcome to Your Kitchen
Assume that you are a refugee. After an entire year in a refugee camp, you return home. Now describe your actual kitchen -- but do not mention anything about being a refugee or the refugee camp.”


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.