5 Writing Exercises #amwriting

WritingExercisesOur youngest, Daughter #4, who grew up to be the wonderful writer Sara Marian, and I lerrrrrrvvvv writing exercises!

Whenever we’ve done a two-person mini-retreat or have roomed together at a writing workshop, we’ve done exercises. More often than not, we’ve ended up with stories, books, or ideas to file away for later.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Open a book, magazine, or newspaper at random and point to a sentence. Use that sentence as the first line of your story. That’s what I did for the picture above.
  2. Describe the same static scene or landscape from the point of view of two very different characters. They’ll notice different things, or different things will appear differently to them or they’ll describe them differently.
  3. Grab a random word and free-write for five minutes. Just write whatever comes into your head. If you go off on a tangent, go.
  4. Set a story in a place you’ve recently been: a museum, the grocery, the back yard. Wherever you are, that’s a place. That’s a setting. It’s specific. Specifics are important.
  5. Pick a sense, particularly a sense you don’t reference much in your writing, and make it an important part of a scene. Overdo it, if you want to — this is just an exercise, meant to stretch muscles.

Trust me, throwing yourself into a writing exercise can be refreshing and liberating. It’s a way to do an end-run around your inner critic and open your creativity.




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

You may also like...

One thought on “5 Writing Exercises #amwriting

  1. Dan

    December 28, 2015 at 7:17am

    Sounds like some interesting ways to get the juices flowing.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 28, 2015 at 8:34am

      They work a treat, Dan. “Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell” started out as an exercise. It’s my mother’s favorite story of mine. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Jane

    December 28, 2015 at 9:51am

    Hound of hell is possibly MY favorite story of yours. (But I do love the wild cow opus!) AND SAGE!!!

    Anyway, write on!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author
      • Jane

        December 29, 2015 at 8:55am

        I’m flabbergasted! As you know, no one can say a sweeter thing to a writer than, “I’ve read your book a bunch of times!”

        And, yes, my head is getting busy again. Soon the notebook!

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Rasheed Hooda

    December 28, 2015 at 11:21am

    Wonderful fun ideas. I’ve used some before and I’ll try the others.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Bradley Preston

    December 30, 2015 at 9:18pm

    Wonderful way to encourage writing.
    Even, my son is 5 years old. I often do almost similar stuff. Open a book and give him a random topic from it to write on.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 31, 2015 at 1:50pm

      That’s great! I expect to read one of his books one of these days. Good job, Dad!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

Leave a Reply, If You Ple-az

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.