- Eavesdrop on the bus, in a coffee shop, at a meeting, really anywhere works. Overhear and write down one snippet a day for thirty days. At the end of thirty days you can: (a) Use the overheard as a starting point and write a flash fiction, or a longer story, or poem from it. (b) Sample the whole, string it together to make it all into one time/place event, story, poem. (c) Something else of your choosing. (d) All of the above.
- Mini-notebook. I have a writing friend who mailed several friends a tiny notebook with a tiny pen. Write down one thing everyday he said. So the size of the notebook in some ways determines the form, content, substance. It’s interesting to think about how.
- Sign up for the November novel writing month–too late this year. I’ve thought January would be a better month. It’s longer, with fewer holidays. It’s colder (in most regions) and snowy or rainy (if we’re lucky–I live in California). So maybe there’s more incentive to stay inside and write.
- One sentence in variation. Write one sentence, then rewrite it 29 times, once a day.
- Timelines. Make a different one everyday for a project you’re working on or thinking of. It could be a timeline of a day, or a year, an hour. This is a good exercise for autobiography, memoir, and narrative non-fiction. (Yes, of course, and fiction.)
Practice, habit, and kicking ourselves out of a rut or a writer’s block. Writing exercises are good for all of that. Getting new ideas. Looking at the elephant from a different end. In the past, I’ve set myself 30-day exercises when I couldn’t write anything else. It’s magic folks, the act of writing can spur you on to more writing.
Please feel free to share these ideas with your friends, writing group, students. Please feel free to send them over to my blog to see more.