Let’s Get Physical

Now don’t get out of your seat, it’s just me, Katy Lee, and the kind of exercise I’m talking about lets you sit right where you are. You see, this exercise is one for your mind, particularly the part where your writing comes from.

Since the freak snow storm and week-long power outage, and now with the stressful holiday season upon us, my writing has come to a screeching halt. Lately, I find when I sit to write I end up making out my shopping lists instead. Anyone else going through this? Perhaps it is just the season and after I lose my yearly Thanksgiving weight gain all will be back to normal, but I’m not waiting to find out. Instead, I’m getting physical.

To do this, I needed some instruction. So, I signed up for an online creative writing exercise class. There’s a bunch to choose from, and having never taken one, I opted for a class on food, hence the weight gain. Anyway, I needed something to jump start my brain as aerobics jump starts my day, and after completing the first exercise, I knew it was just what the doctor ordered.

The class began with a simple first person narrative describing a food experience. Nothing to break a sweat over and totally unrelated to my WIP. (Work in Progress) And I got to eat. This was the best exercise ever!

It was a fun and low stress practice piece with nothing riding on it and no pressure to get it “right.” But something it did do is remind me of why I write. And that is because I am happiest when I am doing it. My kids tell me they can always tell when I am writing at my laptop. They can tell because I am smiling. And while writing this piece I could feel my smile getting stronger. Of course, it could have been the chocolate.

The next assignment called for using four descriptions from the first exercise in a scene with my main characters from my WIP. It was now my characters turn to partake in the food I had just eaten, and it was exactly what I needed to refresh my mind of who my characters were and their motivations. Would they like the food? Would it end in a food fight? Or would their meal bring them closer together?

I won’t go into all the assignments but with each one I was effectively brought back to the task of finishing the book. A writing exercise’s main purpose is to trigger your imagination and help you come up with great ideas for your stories, and they can also refocus your mind when it decides to block up. But wait, there’s more. A bonus just for you! Performing these exercises can also perfect your writing skills.

The Unlocked Secret: Don’t ever look at a writing exercise as a waste of time. They will help you with your metaphors, spelling, character profiles, plotting, and much, much more. Using writing exercises to help you refocus can only make you a stronger writer. And if you’re anything like me, your smile will prove that you’ve been working out.

Question: What kind of prompts or exercises have helped cure your writer’s block?

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15 thoughts on “Let’s Get Physical”

  1. Hi Katy,

    I really like the idea of creating the experience in reality and inserting it into your characters’ world. I guess it all comes back to writing what you know, and using all the senses senses in your descriptions. Thanks for sharing.

    For my writing exercises, I take copious observation notes, write descriptive paragraphs about photos (either settings or characters), and try “What if” scenarios to determine the best course of action for my protagonist.

    1. I do the “what if” scenarios too. I’ll make whole diagrams up of my character making different decisions, and then the consequences and reactions to each decision. Then I can pick the one I like the best.

  2. I know what you mean, Katy. I’m having some motivation problems too. I’ll be taking a week off from my day job in January with the sole intent of working on my writing, and there’s an online class I’ll be taking that starts in January too. I find that I’m really looking forward to that “working vacation.” It’s a beautiful morning here in the Northeast — even though this post isn’t about physical exercise, I can’t get that Olivia Newton-John song out of my head. I think I’ll go for a walk!

  3. A change of scenery — I take a walk outside and usually see God’s creativity somewhere. This is a hard time to write for most of us, just because of the excitement of the season and family and extra things to do. Sometimes watching a movie helps. But mostly for me, writing begets writing. We can always delete. Happy exercising!

    1. I think I’ll take your advice about the movie. I rented The Help today. Can’t wait to watch it, but it should refresh my mind too.

      Thanks for stopping in, Loree!

  4. I can sooo picture Suze in the headband!

    When I’m stuck on what to write, I get off the computer and work on things like character and conflict grids. Somehow the mechanics of physically writing (paper and pencil writing) sparks my creativity. It also gives me a chance to step back and get to understand my characters better and get a feel for where they need to go. Then i take a walk or work out and let the information percolate. When I sit back down to write, I find that I can’t get the words down fast enough!

    I teach a writing group to teens and I frequently use writing exercises with them. They love the one where they get a prompt, write for three minutes, get a second unrelated prompt and have to add it to the story for another three minutes and so on. It forces your brain to make connections that would not naturally go together and make them into something coherent. It’s really a blast and they love going back and reading them out loud. The stories go to some really wacky places but we all end up laughing hysterically by the end…which for me is the best part. Like you said, it takes you back to the pure, simple enjoyment of creative writing.

      1. I would have to get a nice tight perm. The headband is not a great look with hair as bone straight as mine!

  5. Hi Katy, I always have my next story outlined. If I get stuck on one story, I start writing on another and that seems to loossen up my thoughts for the first one or I hit the gym. Marian. Enjoy your week. Marian

    1. Wow, Marian, good for you! Two at a time is tough for me. I’ve tried it, and occasionally still try it, but sometimes it pulls me away from the first story too much that I can never get back into it again. I end up having to read from page one to get me back into the characters heads.

  6. Hi Katy,
    I’m in the same boat. Sort of taking a breather in December. When I’m in one of those lull periods though, I take a walk. As I’m walking I’m thinking “what if” about my plot line. Sometimes in the quiet recesses of my mind, my characters are also making suggestions! I find when I return, I’m full of new and fresh ideas.

  7. Katy, I frequently get into “ruts” between books. It never happens while I am writing a book (I can’t stop once I start). But as soon as the book is done, I’m slightly burnt out. If I wait too long to start something else, I get a serious attack of laziness. I like taking classes too. They keep you going and force your brain to create new pathways! I am in one of those lulls right now, but I can feel it coming to an end. I can’t speak for anyone else, but sometimes I have to let creative well re-fill. But it is a fine line between re-fueling and procrastination!

    By the way – thanks for getting that song stuck in my head. I think I need to listen to something else to drive it out of my brain!

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