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Exercises for keeping writing skills sharp

September 4, 2017

chalkboard

Photo: Laura Blankenship (CC)

Writers who focus on specific areas of writing need ways to keep their skills sharp. If all we write are grant proposals or marketing emails or white papers, we may stumble when having to switch up.

As a former newspaperman, I had opportunities all the time to write in different ways: newsroom memos, headlines, photo captions, employee assessments, committee report, opinion piece, teasers, briefs and more. It’s good training and forces writers to think about their audiences and their needs and expectations.

Alas, I don’t have a rag to publish these days, so I’ll have to push writers to come up with exercises to practice their craft. One game is “Six-Word Stories”: Participants craft a good story using exactly six words.

  1. Threat of hurricane ruins beach trip.
  2. Old dog thinks he’s a pup.
  3. Nuclear warriors worry their weary citizens.
  4. The football bounced between the players.
  5. He popped the question. She squealed.
  6. Bored pupils awaited the ringing bell.
  7. Zombies killed time more than brains.
  8. Self-driving cars sped along without passengers.

I gave myself 5 minutes and came up with eight stories. (I kept tripping up because I’m used to counting syllables, not words, for my daily haiku.)

Writers don’t need specific assignments, just a blank space to fill with words. They take the time to hone their craft, even when merely exercising their creativity.

Keep writing, and tell me about the best writing exercises.

• • •

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