In my last post, I talked briefly about stretching as a writer. Hopefully, you’re on track with writing. You’re sitting in front of the page every day, or most days, and hammering out some words. Maybe you’re even consistently hitting your word count.
You have filled or are filling notebooks, or a journal or collecting all of your writings in a word file. You are finding your voice and feel like your writing has gained a sort of consistency.
What can sometimes happen is that you start feeling like, blah, blah, blah. Stretching ourselves where our writing is concerned is a great exercise that can broaden our horizons and add depth to our voice. Although there are many ways to expand, I have a few favorites listed below.
- Read outside your genre. If you write mysteries, you might dive into a few science fiction novels, or if you read exclusively romance novels, you could pick up a thriller.
- Create a blog. You’re a writer and you have something to say. They’re easier than ever to set up and some of them are free. For the very brave: You can allow comments and get feedback on your posts. It’s a great place to test the waters of your writing.
- Take a writing challenge. One of the favorites is National Novel Writing Month which falls in November. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. I love 30 day challenges. Write a super short story, journal entry or poem every day for 30 days, or post everyday on your blog. Write a page a day. Increase your word count to see how often you hit your goal.
- Take a favorite character from a book you read and tell what happens to them after the book ended.
- Write a journal for one of your favorite characters. It can be one of yours or someone else’s.
- If you normally type, write with a pen on paper. Conversely, if you always write on paper, try typing or keying your thoughts into a document.
- Clip photos from magazines and write your own version of what happened.
- Using Google maps (or other favorite map site) write about a city you’ve never been in based on the images you see.
- Attend (or participate in !) a poetry slam, or an author reading.
- Sharpen your skills of observation by looking for unusual situation while in your car, or on a walk. Write down five a day. I once walked in to a local java joint to find a pretty young woman sitting in the lap of a considerably older man. In traffic one hot afternoon, I looked to my passenger side to see a tiny, bright pink car with a behemoth man in a full beard driving. On a sunny Saturday, I saw a little girl on roller skates attempting to get on a two wheeler. I wanted to know the stories of those events.
- Increase your word power by learning and using new words you discover in the dictionary or in the course of reading. Write them in a notebook and try to use them the next time you write.
- Consider all the people you know. Who among them intrigues you? Ask to interview them. You would be surprised how many people are happy to talk about their lives. And you might just make a friend. This exercise also helps you focus on dialog various speech patterns.
- Try to capture turns of phrase. When I lived in the Deep South, I heard some of the most wonderful idioms. I wasn’t a writer then and didn’t bother to write them down and missed out on an opportunity to collect valuable character possibilities.
- Gather snatches of conversations by eaves dropping in restaurants or coffee houses. You never know what phrase will trigger your next story.
Certainly there are many more ways to expand your writing possibilities. What are some of your favorite ways to stretch yourself as a writer?