Writing can be grueling.
Some days you feel you have what it takes.
Other days, you want to go back to bed.
Even after writing almost 200 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, some mornings the blank page just stares at me.
I feel like a fraud, fear I’ve lost it or never had it to begin with.
Can you relate? Few writers escape it. Not even the legends.
Hemingway wrote, “There’s no rule on how it is to write … Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”
Margaret Atwood says, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
Yet fear holds back so many.
Am I good enough? Will I ever be?
You’re not alone. There’s no magic to successful writing. It’s all about hard work.
Even when you don’t have the energy.
Even when you’re second-guessing yourself.
All writing is rewriting, and you can’t rewrite a blank page.
So what to do?
Some writers motivate themselves with prompts or other exercises, just to start getting words onto the page. Might that work for you? Try these and see.
Here is a writing exercise for each day of the week, designed to keep you at the keyboard and producing.
Daily Writing Exercises
1: Answer these Questions
See if these stimulate you.
- Who just entered your office?
- What is he or she carrying?
- What does he or she want?
2: Write a Letter To Your Younger Self
Tap into your emotions and imagine this as a real, separate person you might be able to move with your words.
3: Imagine a Scene
- An ex-love walks into a coffee shop but hasn’t yet noticed you. Should you greet them? What do you say to someone whose heart you broke five years ago?
- You’re a child who’s been told Santa isn’t real. Write about your feelings and how you might interact with younger kids who still believe.
- You find a peculiar device in your pocket and have no idea how it got there. You feel someone’s watching you. What do you do?
- In fewer than 250 words, describe a defining moment in your life.
- Write about how your character’s best friend’s body shows up in front of their house. What will they do to find out who’s responsible?
4: Write a Story Someone Once Told You
Exercise your storytelling muscles.
5: Write From a New Point of View
If you find yourself most often writing from the same perspective, try a different voice.
- First-person (I, Me, My).
- Second-person (You, Your). This POV is more common in non-fiction, rarely used by novelists .
- Third-person limited (He, She). Common in commercial fiction, the narrator uses the main character as the camera.
- Third-person omniscient. The narrator has access to the thoughts of ALL characters (not recommended except as a writing exercise).
6: Write About Someone Who Inspires You
- a family member
- a friend
- a historical figure
- a teacher
- any hero of yours
Try writing a short story in first-person from their perspective.
7: Write About Someone You Know
8: Free Write
Set a timer.
Write the first thing that comes to your mind.
No agenda, no filter. Ignore the urge to self edit, and don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling.
9: Omit needless words
Find a piece you’ve written and edited but still needs work.
Ferociously excise every extraneous word and see if that doesn’t add power. This is a fun exercise that should be the hallmark of every writer.
Blogging is a great way to get yourself in the habit of writing regularly and sharing your work with an audience.
11. Analyze Your Favorite Book
Evaluate what kept you interested.
- Favorite character? Why?
- The writing style?
12: Create a Timeline of Significant Moments for Your Protagonist
The better you know your main character, the richer your story will be.
Go beyond birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. Focus on events that make a real difference in her life and how you tell her story.
13: Write About Somewhere You’ve Been
Mine your memory for every sensory detail.
14: Use Writing Prompts for Practice
They’re all around you. In real life, in magazines, online lists, even six-word stories.
A writing prompt is simply a starting place. An idea.
The rest is up to you.
15: Write About Something You’re Good At
What’s your expertise? Write about it in detail.
16: Play Devil’s Advocate
Write a strong argument for the other side of an issue about which you’re passionate.
These exercises should get you unstuck and writing like never before.