Musicians riff and play scales to practice. Athletes have training routines. Why shouldn’t writers do writing exercises? Sometimes, a writing exercise turns into a poem or short story or becomes the seed of a novel or essay.
Writing exercises offer a way to experiment without the pressure of “getting it right.” They can prompt ideas for your work in progress and warm you up to write for an extended period. If you’re facing a blank page, a writing exercise might be the way in to something new.
Daily writing exercises help establish a routine. The hardest thing about working on a goal can be getting started, whether it’s exercising or writing. Just getting to the gym, putting your running clothes on and stepping out the door, or sitting down in front of your computer or notebook is the first step. Once you’re there, the rest isn’t so hard. And once you’re done with the “workout,” doesn’t it feel great?
Try this exercise: Find a random object in your house. It could be a souvenir you brought home from a vacation, a piece of art, a gift someone gave you, or a memento from your childhood. Write for 10 minutes about the object. Write about what it means to you, how you acquired it, why you keep it. Tell this object’s story.