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simple ways to flex your writing muscles

The thing about writing is: you can read books about it, follow courses, but really you just got to sit down and do it. And enjoy it! Here are some ideas to inspire your writing.

Frantic Free Write – sessions

Write 10 minutes each day.

  • Set a timer (your phone). Put the timer away from you, next to your reward: e.g. a glass of juice, the kettle for a cuppa tea, a piece of chocolate, the radio … whatever works for you.
  • Put your pen on a piece of paper, breathe , look down and write.  Write anything, words, phrases, sentences, what you did, what you see, what you are going to do, descriptions of your room, your clothes … just anything … you’ll find that hidden in all those random notes will be little sparks for more.
  • When your timer goes, GRAB YOUR REWARD!

Do this for 3 weeks, then go spark hunting: interesting phrases, ideas. Can you develop them into something more?

And keep it going! It will less awkward over time.

Your new BFF – a tiny notebook

This notebook should be with you 24/7. Ideas have a funny habit of biting you in the bum when you have no time for them: when you are on the bike, about to fall asleep, in the middle of a biology test. Ideas have also the annoying habit to slip your memory. So just a wee scribble will keep them trapped for later use.

Also, if you are on the bus or waiting somewhere, people watch and describe them in detail in your booklet. One day you might need an old man in your story, or a crying baby … your observation notelets will come in handy.

And yes, you will find notes at some point where you will scratch your head and have NO idea what on earth was going on. But that is better than losing your next brilliant story idea, no?

A picture tells a thousand words – you just gotta write that picture

Look at pictures and imagine what happened just before or after. Find mind-challenging pictures in art galleries and museums, annual world press photo of the year, National Geographic, street art, book covers, family picture albums and holidays snaps …

Go small or go home!

Stories do not have to be big: big explosions, big baddies, big drama. It is what Hollywood loves to do, and Netflix, but stories are often about small changes with normal people that mean a lot. Resist the temptation to always blow up the world (pun intended). Keep it real.

What if?

Write down a sentence: then ask what if? – and write down the answer – ask again: what if? Do this a few times and then ask: so what? Chances are you have a story right there and then!

Word farting

Good writing is specific. So instead of writing ‘he saw the ‘house’, determine what kinda house: a shack, a castle, a ruin, a manor, a flat, an apartment, a tenement house….
Try this:

  • In the middle of the page, write down a generic word or idea / location (walk, god, beach, city …)
  • Then write as many alternatives or connected words around it

Build up your vocabulary and storytelling prowess. Be your own thesaurus.


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