Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

The Best Writing Exercise Ever

The Best Writing Exercise ever? How can there be just ONE? Surely there’s a different “best” exercise for playwrights or novelists or poets? It’s impossible to make that claim!

I am making that claim.

Now let’s be clear. I’m talking about an exercise. It’s not the best way to write a play or a novel or a poem. It’s not a magic idea generator, or a remarkable rewrite tool.

It is an exercise that will:

  • Get words on the page for any writer.
  • Get any writer through writer’s block.
  • Solve character and story problems.
  • Provide the perfect transition from real world to writing mode.

This better be one life-changing exercise…

Don’t get your hopes up. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing fancy. The Best Writing Exercise Ever is Automatic Writing. Some call it Free-writing.

Wait a second, you’re trying to trick me. That’s one of the oldest exercises in the book! I automatic write all the time.

Good. You should. Sometimes the best exercises are the ones we use all the time. Writers don’t need bells and whistles, they need exercises that will get words on the page. Automatic writing is the best exercise around to do just that:

If you’re staring at the blank page…

The worst thing a writer can do is stare at the blank page. There are many reasons why we do it – we’re tired, we don’t want to write, we’re busy with real world problems, we can’t think of anything in the moment.

Get words on the page instead of thinking about getting words on the page. Give yourself a topic and a time limit and write, write, write. Get the good, bad and the ugly on the page. Don’t worry about formatting, pretty words or proper sentences. Start every writing session with an Automatic Writing Prompt.

If you’ve got writer’s block…

It happens all the time. You’re stuck and don’t know where to turn. It’s easier to turn away rather than face the mess on the page. Write through your problems. If you don’t know what to do with a character, automatic write in their voice. If you have a story block, automatic write 10 possible solutions. Don’t worry about whether they’re the right answers, just get as many answers as possible. You’ll find it sometimes takes two or three pages of wrong to come up with something right.

Click here for a PDF of Automatic Writing Prompts!
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