Writing Exercises for Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
How comfortable are you with your writing?
Many writers specialize in a genre or niche. Creative writers are focused on fiction or poetry, copywriters specialize in web writing or marketing, and technical writers are bound by jargon and code that other writers might find impossible to decipher.
Sure, some of us explore various types of writing, but how deeply are we willing to immerse ourselves in unknown waters?
A novelist might dip her toes in web writing. A copywriter might wade in children’s literature. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive into a completely new form of writing or what it would be like to deeply explore a form you’ve only tested? Today’s writing exercises will challenge you to do just that.
Do more than test the waters
I’m often proud of the fact that I’ve tried my hand at so many different types of writing. I am an experienced poet and blogger. I get paid to write articles, website copy, and press releases. I’ve written some fiction. And here’s where I always stop and hold my breath: right when I get to the F-word, fiction.
Sometimes I say poetry is my first love because that’s what I started writing. But the truth is, my first love was fiction, because that’s what I read and what I’ve been reading for longer than I can remember. It stands to reason, then, that as a writer, one of my goals is to write a novel or get some short stories published.
But fiction seems to elude me, which is odd, considering I’ve read more fiction than anything else. It should be a breeze but I’ve always struggled with it. It’s not like I can’t do it. I can and I have, and usually, whatever I write is somewhat decent. But I have a hard time finishing a piece of fiction. I’m great at character development (you wouldn’t believe how many character files I’ve got). I’m not so great at coming up with villains though. And plots — forget about it. Every time I come up with a plot, I scratch it out because I feel like it’s already been done.
Over the past few years, my apparent inability to complete a piece of fiction (even a short story) has created a huge barrier for me. It’s almost like the fact that I haven’t been able to master fiction has made me want to avoid it or just put it off for an unknown length of time.
This is a problem since I really, really want to write a novel.
One of my goals for this year is to step out of my comfort zone and get real cozy with fiction writing. I’ve spent time thinking about my strengths and weaknesses in this area and I’ve promised myself that I will participate in NaNoWriMo this November and attempt to produce a 50-thousand word manuscript, complete with plot and villain.
For this week’s writing exercises, your objective is to explore unfamiliar territory. Are you one of those people who only get in the pool if it’s more than 80 degrees (Fahrenheit)? Then get yourself into the freezing waters of the northern Pacific Ocean! Choose some type of writing that you’ve never attempted before or choose something that you’ve only toyed with. Or, choose a writing style that you’ve struggled with in the past. Just pick something that you have not mastered and then set yourself the goal of developing your weaknesses in that type of writing.
It doesn’t take long:
- Write a piece of flash fiction under 1000 words
- Write a 250-word poem
- Write a brief, 2000-word essay
- Compose a newspaper column
- Write a page of a script
If you turn off the TV, unplug your video games, and close your web browser, you could probably do all of these writing exercises in a single weekend.
What are you waiting for? You’ve got your writing exercises. Now go start writing!
If you have any writing exercises to share, feel free to post them in the comments.
Are you looking for more writing exercises? Pick up a copy of 101 Creative Writing Exercises, available in paperback and ebook.