12 Simple Writing Exercises

Summary: If you want to more develop a more efficient writing routine, use the following exercises to warm up and get started faster.

Do you find it hard to get started with your writing?

Here’s a suggested approach to get started, stay focused, and avoid writer’s block.

  1. Location – find a place to start. Like any exercise, it’s best to have a dedicated place where you can do your writing. This also works for a second reason. When you make it a routine, something in you begins to click in as it knows ‘writing time is coming up.’
  2. Time – stick to a routine. Stopping and starting will defeat you. Instead, pick one day, set it in your calendar, and make that your writing day. If you’re serious about writing, block out 30 minutes every day. Within a month, you’ll see a huge change.
  3. Distractions – turn off the phone and close the web browser. Even better, leave the phone outside the room and turn off the wifi.
  4. 30 min block – work in chunks of 30 min as anything less doesn’t give you time to get started, and more can lead to overwhelm and exhaustion.
  5. Start – with something easy, such as proof-reading yesterday’s work for 5 min. Once you get started, even if it is something small, you’ll find it easier to transition into the actual writing.
  6. Identify writing tasks – make a list and save them to Google Drive, Evernote or some to-do list Chrome extension. Make sure it’s portable so you can review and update it on the go. Even better, write it on paper and keep in your pocket. Somehow, writing a goal on paper makes a huge difference in terms of results.
  7. First writing taskbullet point what you intend to write. For longer pieces, create a quick outline. These serve as a reference point. Outline and lists help you stay focussed and ensure you avoid drifting. It also cures writer’s block.
  8. Work to completion – don’t start the second task until you finish the first. Keep pushing until you make a breakthrough. It is often at the point where you are about to give up, that you stand to gain the most. Persist.
  9. Start second – once you have the first completed, see if there is time to start the second. If not, do some quick planning, take a break, then restart.
  10. Watch the clock – setup an alarm on your phone (forgot, it’s outside the door) or use an egg-timer. Try to get a sense for the time passing. Soon you’ll sense how much time if left. Often this acts as a catalyst to speed up and get to the finishing line.
  11. Break – stop, have a rest. Get up. Move.
  12. Evaluate – see what worked, then start the next 30 min block.

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It’s tempting to go over the 30 minutes if you’re in a momentum. A few minutes over is fine if you’re about to finish a piece of work, otherwise stick to the plan. Also, don’t hit the pause button if a phone call comes in and then restart the clock. The phone call was time out of your 30 min slot.