Get Your (Writing) Exercise.

Hello again! I know it’s been a few weeks but some of the subjects I’d been thinking of blogging about where a lot bigger than I was really prepared for. So I’ve decided to go back to basics for a bit and today I’ll be talking about Writing Exercises.

Firstly, what’s the point of doing writing exercises? Surely it just eats up time you could be devoting to your WiP? Well sure, if you do it excessively, but just like any exercise the goal is to improve. Writing exercises are contained opportunities to step out of your routine, your preferred style, maybe even your comfort zone. On Twitter I often see people engaged daily in specific exercises. Commonly someone shares a picture with a ‘Write a Story in two sentences’ caption. This is a lesson centred around sentence structure and use of language, a lesson in conveying the maximum message with a minimum of words. Of course, in this case there is the accompanying image and that can do a significant amount of scene setting, laying the groundwork for you. Another one I see is the ‘Word of the day’ challenge, the writer is given a word and tasked with building a short narrative around it.

Social media is, in itself a form of writing exercise. We post, arranging words and conveying meaning and recounting events and feelings. As I said before, the very purpose of these exercises is to take you away from your WiP, to refresh, re-enervate and reassess how you structure and use language. Even this blog is a writing exercise, I communicate my thoughts and experiences to you in what is, hopefully, a engaging and entertaining manner.

Any brief search of the internet will get you reams of options, lists of exercises to suit you. Writing in a different style, from a different perspective, the top result when I searched gave me these eight options from

8 Creative Writing Exercises

  • Let your stream of consciousness run. Start with a blank page. …
  • Switch up a story’s POV. …
  • Use creative writing prompts. …
  • Write a letter to your younger self. …
  • Write flash fiction. …
  • Write a fake advertisement. …
  • Borrow someone else’s story and make it your own. …
  • Try blogging.

So, what do I do? Well apart from the blogging which you’ve already been reading I have stumbled into a new exercise. Not long ago I joined a Fantasy Football League, not in the traditional sense. I mean really fantasy football. Games Workshops Blood Bowl on Steam to be precise. Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Goblins all the classic fantasy races plus a few, slugging it out in turn based strategy sports fun. So, how does this become a writing exercise? Well, while we do stream our matches on our Discord channel, for those who miss the games I write an after action report. I try to do it in the vein of a fantasy sports commentator so as to really entertain and sharing it on our group Facebook page. I have to say it is fun. It’s very likely that the Leagues will continue even after the Covid situation resolves (however long that may take) and maybe, once the next season starts, as well as doing my own games I’ll do the others too (some of the players write their own and I’ll leave those to them).

By writing under the guise of a sportscaster, reporting events I have only a little control over I’m actually improving my grasp of writing action scenes involving multiple contributors. I’m also building a team based narrative via the on-pitch events and (should I start writing for the other games) I’ll be able to generate an inter-team narrative for the overall season which will help me to multi-layer my plots. I envision rivalries between players on the same team, vendetta’s and grudges between players in different teams and between teams themselves. The game becomes a basis I can write around without having to dedicate a large measure of my concentration to conceptualising the events I’m depicting.

When choosing an exercise it’s important to consider what aspects of your writing you think need improving. Practising things you’re already good at is kinda self-defeating if you don’t attempt to improve in those areas you are lacking. In analysing yourself for those weak areas you are also increasing your self-awareness (which is a healthy thing to do) and by accepting that you do have flaws you can work to improve those areas before they come under scrutiny. Entering into these writing exercises should be a break from your ongoing work, a refresher, it should be fun and challenging.

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