Writers on Writing Exercises

Monday has rolled around again and another week has begun. How are your Mental Muscles coping this year so far? Is 2011 being a kind year to you creatively? Are you feeling inspired? Is your Muse in daily attendance?

Today I have decided to post and share writing exercises that our favourite authors use. Often times the best way to learn a craft is to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. So I share their words of wisdom here with you today…

  • Ernest Hemingway’s Exercise / Challenge

Tell an entire story in only 6 words.

His story was:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph.

Choose 5 of your favourite books and study the first paragraphs. What has the writer done that hooked you? What can you learn from these paragraphs?

  • Stephen King

In his book “On Writing” he says that he writes 10 pages every day without fail.

Challenge: This week set down a task to write 10 pages every day without fail.

  • Joyce Carol Oats

She writes in the morning before breakfast. She writes in longhand. She writes for a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour.

Challenge: Set aside 45 minutes in the morning to write. Put away the laptop, get out your pen or pencil and write.

  • JK Rowling

Unclutter your story. JK Rowling is famous for creating Harry Potter. But she is also famous for being a plotter. She used a 1 page gridded outline.The grid outlines the chapter, month, chapter title, explanation of how that chapter relates to the over-arching plot of the book, and then columns for each of the book’s six subplots (prophecies, Harry’s romantic interests, Dumbledore’s Army, Order of the Phoenix, Snape and crew, and Hagrid and Grawp).

Challenge: If you have not outlined your story. Outline your story using JK Rowling’s method. Stick to only 1 page for the outline.

Well I trust these tips and exercises from great authors will keep your mental muscles supple and flexed this week.

Happy Writing.


11 thoughts on “Writers on Writing Exercises

  1. This is a really great list. Thanks for sharing!

    In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron suggests an exercise called The Morning Pages – which is writing 3 pages of anything every morning. It doesn’t have to relate to your writing project. It just helps unclutter your mind and get the writing momentum going. I’ve found this particularly helpful too. 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting. I do the morning pages myself. I have also done a blog post a couple of months back on The Artist’s Way and specifically on the Morning Pages. It is a fantastic tool for any form of creativity. 🙂

  2. Woohoo, Nice Kim.
    Thanks for sharing. “Story in 6 words” -Double like 🙂
    Will give it a try and I am inspired. 🙂

    1. Yes You have to LOVE Ernest Hemingway – a Master of the written word… Glad this inspired you Aditi. 🙂

  3. Hiya,

    I really like the one from Stephen King. I really do need to read that book, everyone seems to recommend it.

    Thanks for the tips although I don’t really understand JK’s way of doing it but it obviously works for her.


    1. Thanks for commenting Paula. Yes On Writing does seem to be at the top of every list.
      Glad you enjoyed the tips.

    1. The point is to keep those Mental Muscles Flexed but sometimes we need the inspiration and the motivation to push us to work out. Glad these top “trainers” have inspired you. 🙂

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