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I’d like to try a regimen of short writing exercises for a few weeks, ideally doing at least one every day.

I have no problem with waking up early and my lunch breaks are needlessly long, so I can easily spend 20 minutes writing in the morning before leaving home, another 20 minutes during lunch break and 15 to 30 minutes in the evening, before going to bed.
On lucky days (when the train isn't too full or when I manage to snatch a sitting spot), I could also add to the schedule some kind of observation exercise.

What types of writing exercises are best suited for each environment (home, workplace, public transportation) and each part of the day ?

I also don’t know if it’s best to do 3 distinct extra-short exercises every day, or to choose one exercise per day, for example writing down whatever nonsense comes to my mind when waking up, then expand it and rewrite-it into something coherent during lunch and re-draft it again in the evening.


Note : The inclusion of other locations (parks, school, bars, libraries, etc.) or other times of the day (3 am, after-nap, etc.) into the answers you be greatly appreciated, as it would make them susceptible to help other people, with different life-styles and schedules.

  • Can you explain why you want to do exercises rather than just completing pieces of writing? – S. Mitchell Jun 12 '16 at 12:30
  • @Tave I've never done writing exercises before, and I want to try it for two reasons: to form a writing habit and because I'm very unhappy with my current skills. I hope to get used to write in relatively short sessions (20 to 45 min) every day. Also when I writing stories, I focus too much on what's happening and not on how to make it readable. – Babika Babaka Jun 12 '16 at 13:00
  • @Tave Should I include my reasons in the question? – Babika Babaka Jun 12 '16 at 13:01
  • I am just trying to understand what you want. A good writing habit is writing regularly, 'inspired' or not. Short is fine. Focus on what you don't do as well as other things; you can obviously write well, but what are the areas you want to improve. – S. Mitchell Jun 12 '16 at 21:21
  • @Tave I'd like to give my characters distinct voices, to improve the transitions between scenes and to kill the purple in me. But the most important for now would be to get used to write every day in short sessions (I've started this morning, and it wasn't fruitful). – Babika Babaka Jun 13 '16 at 7:06
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I heard a really great interview... by someone... somewhere... can't remember though - I'm only saying this because I don't want to take credit for the answer.

The essence of what he said is that whenever you ask an author what they do when they write, they're always going to tell you the things that came hard for them, or the things they really had to work on to learn. The other things - the things they don't tell you about (but that they're often known for and are excellent at) are things that just come naturally to them - they don't even consider them.

So you're going to run into both kinds of things no matter what environment you work in, be it a completely silent room, the train, or on a park bench while watching the kids play.

Some aspects of writing, for you, may be extremely hard and you'll have to work on them and others may come so naturally you might not even know you're doing them.

Thing is - for each person it's different, so no matter what great advice we give, it'll be great advice that works for us but maybe not you.

For me, I keep a pad of paper and a pen with me, and I use Evernote on my phone. I try to keep things simple because one of the things that's hard for me is starting a project and the simpler it is to start, the better.

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I applaud your ambition to develop the habit of writing every day. I now understand why you want exercises. The WritingExercises.co.uk has a number of writing prompts and exercises.

Rather than worrying just about writing, you might want to think about spending some time editing every day in order to improve your writing.

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