Rules to Keep in Mind When Doing Creative Writing Exercises

These rules come with a disclaimer that they are here for you if you like rules, or they are here for you if you prefer to rebel against rules. (Excerpted from Take Ten for Writers.)

KEEP WRITING: This is the #1 way to maintain your momentum. Don’t stop; keep writing and moving forward. If you hit a block, and don’t know what to write next, write the last word over and over until something new starts flowing. Usually it’s the word and’ Write "and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and" and soon you will be writin, "‘and I am sick of writing the word and. I am also sick of …"’And you’re off and writing again.

DON’T EDIT: Editing is left-brained work that stops your momentum in its tracks - and the writing exercises on this site from Story Spinner and Bonnie Neubauer's books are designed for right-brained fun. Don't go back and cross out or change words. If you can’t think of a particular word, draw a line and keep writing. At the end of the writing session, the line will remind you that you wanted to search for a word. Don't worry about spelling or grammar (with apologies to all the English teachers out there); there's plenty of time for that later. Just make sure you can read what you write.

LET YOURSELF GO: Don’t worry about the end result. Give yourself permission to throw words on the page. Don’t hold back or filter yourself. You don’t have to show this to anyone, so go on an adventure and play with your ideas and words.

BE SPECIFIC: Use all your senses to describe things. Use your sense of smell to describe a computer, your sense of taste to describe a taxicab. The best way for a reader to recall what you’ve written is to be specific: not “toy”, but “plastic Batman figure missing an arm.” If you find that when you focus on being specific, your inner-editor enters and stops your momentum, immediately disregard this rule.

WHEN YOU ARE DONE WRITING, FEEL A SENSE OF PRIDE: The goal of timed writings is to fill the time or the page. When you do this, allow yourself to feel proud and revel in the accomplishment. Take it in, savor it, and use the momentum to write again as soon as possible. Do not negate your work or compare it to anyone else’s. Negations and comparisons are momentum killers and major steps on the path to writer's block. Of all the rules, this is definitely the most important one.

Now it’s time to WRITE …

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