Are the latest writing apps or the most professional-smelling notebook enough to get you writing?
Personally, I think these things won’t do squat if you don’t cultivate and stick to a writing habit or routine. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s one of my current challenges as a creative writer.
There are plenty of science-backed articles and case studies on building and sticking to habits, but I’m fascinated by a couple of fun and creative writing exercises people have tried to build writing routines.
They aren’t bullet-proof solutions, but they’re seen as opportunities to get the words flowing. In fact, some of these allow you to work hand-in-hand with a community of writers aiming for the same goals and yearning to share their individual creative prowess.
If you’re looking for a creative writing exercise that will make you write (and write more), here are seven exercises to try:
1. Morning Pages
Morning pages are three full pages of stream of consciousness writing written by hand and done each morning. It’s a writing exercise created by author, playwright, and filmmaker Julia Cameron to get you to express the thoughts, feelings, and ideas in your mind before the day begins.
To quote Cameron:
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
2. Writing prompts
A prompt is a word, phrase, question or statement that serves as an idea or trigger to get you to write. You use prompts for ideas to begin writing with, which saves you the trouble of figuring out what to write about.
Check out the WritingPrompts reddit, Poets & Writers’ daily fiction and poetry writing exercises, and apps like WriterKata and 99u’s own Tanner Christensen’s Prompts for writing prompts and exercises for ideas.
3. Visual prompts
Photographs, videos, and other visual works can be used as prompts for writing. A quick Google search will pull up old and updated Tumblr blogs and websites with visual/photo prompts to use.
4. 15 to 30 days of writing
This is one of my favorite habit-forming activities where you take on the challenge of writing for XX number of days.
Most writing courses and challenges are between 15-30 days and invite you to share your progress with other writers.
Unfortunately a lot of people fall out in between the process despite the accountability factor, but it’s something you can always consider.
WordPress.com’s The Daily Post opens blogging and writing courses on a regular basis to get bloggers and writers to develop skills and habits. They also publish writing prompts on a daily basis (see #2).
5. Writing and blogging events
A writing and/or blogging event is an opportunity to tackle and complete a specific writing or blogging challenge within a set timeline. NaNoWriMo, NaPoWriMo, and other similar and smaller writing and blogging events have become worldwide traditions for writers and bloggers from different niches and backgrounds.
6. Blog carnivals
A blog carnival is another large writing/blogging event where an organizer chooses a theme, criteria for submissions, and invites bloggers to participate. All of the participating blog posts are then curated and published on the official website or venue of the carnival.
While its main purpose is to generate traffic and promotion, blog carnivals are a fun way to join communities of like-minded individuals.
7. Writer tags
Writer tags come in all lengths, questions, and styles, but tradition calls for mentioning a handful of fellow writers and inviting them to pass on the tag to other writers. You can check out my writer’s tag post for 2015 as an example.
Keep on writing.
Whether you plan on trying out Morning Pages or starting a 30-day writing challenge, the goal is to keep the ideas flowing for consistent writing. Try a couple of these creative writing exercises and events, and see where they’ll take you on your writing journey.
Do you think these creative writing exercises work for you?