Some are reluctant to try exercises.
They associate writing exercises with the essays they were forced to do in school.
There are two big differences:
1. You have a much wider choice of subjects and ideas than you had in school, so there is no more ‘write about what you did at the weekend.’
2. You are choosing to do these exercises yourself and can change and adapt them to suit yourself.
RESTRAINT AND CREATIVITY
The interesting thing about creativity and imagination is that both can be stimulated by restraint.
Invention is born of need.
So, for example, a prisoner in a cell with no television or radio might write on their toilet roll.
When you have limited resources you are forced to get more creative about the resources you do have.
It may seem somewhat contradictory but, there is something liberating about having restraints placed on our imagination.
Our imagination is vast but it is easier to work with when you respond to a specific idea or initiative, rather than spend fruitless hours searching for ‘the perfect idea.’
EXERCISE AND FOCUS
By the way, there is no perfect idea, but there are plenty of ideas that will stimulate and excite you.
Restrictions aid concentration.
This probably explains why I found that many of my creative writing students not only responded very well to these exercises but also why the exercises enabled them to write faster and with more focus.
Abstract writing exercises offer both restraint and freedom.
There is far less information to draw on than other exercises. This way your imagination is given more freedom. Yet there are still limits imposed by the vagueness of the initial trigger sentence.
These exercises offer a hint of unfolding drama as a starting point. Take the following sentence: ‘The scraping sound got louder.’
First, try to hear the scraping sound in your mind. Then when you have got a clear idea of that sound follow it in your imagination to where you imagine it originated.
ASKING QUESTIONS STIMULATES IDEAS
Ask yourself questions about the sound:
Who, or what is making the noise?
Where are they?
What can it mean?
Don’t dwell on, or mentally edit your thoughts – write down your answers as soon as they spring to mind.
Nobody is checking this – you are as free as you allow yourself to be.
If you apply yourself to these exercises thoughtfully you will soon see the seed of a story beginning to emerge.
ABSTRACT WRITING EXERCISES
Apply this same process to the following sentences:
- The painting was familiar.
- The stone was covered in a fine green moss.
- A small mound of stones.
- The outline of a small building
- The liquid was dark.
- The fine sand stuck between his/her toes.
- The coat was shabby.
- The light shone directly on to the boat.
- The pavement was cracked.
- The buildings were tall.
- A slow blink.
- The scent of rosemary.
- The bottles clanked.
- The white daisies were outlined in black.
- His hand was freckled.
- The tree was bare, black against the orange sky.
- She took a deep breath.
- The seat was warm.
- The wind blew directly into his face.
- The mug was stained.
- Just an ordinary toothbrush.
- The corners of her mouth turned down a little.
- A torn coat.
- A dead dog.
- A bare tree.
- Old files.
- A chipped cup.
- Freshly cut grass.
- The colour orange.
I hope these abstract writing exercises have helped you. If you find yourself compelled to keep writing – keep going.
Many writers find it is a lot easier to start working from an exercise than from a completely blank page.
Best of luck with your writing and don’t forget, let me know how you get on.
My book, Practical Creative Writing Exercises has helped many writers start great stories. It is packed full of information and exercises and will be priced at less than the price of a cup of coffee for a short time only.