When you Google “practice exercises for writers,” you get approximately 47,000,000 search results.
There are a lot of people interested in figuring out how to force themselves to write better.
Many of them will look at those exercises, suggestions, and prompts, but won’t ever do anything with them.
It could be because many of these things are general. They have to be. Giving writing advice on the internet, in blog form, is one of the hardest things to do. You can’t really personalize anything, because you’re talking to hundreds, maybe thousands of people, instead of just one.
Maybe we as individuals have to put a little more effort into coming up with more personalized writing challenges that suit our specific needs better.
Could you do it? I think you could.
Of course, this does require that you know what your writing weaknesses are. And that means you have to do some digging deep inside yourself to decide which elements of your writing you really want to focus on improving.
(Maybe call them “things I’m not the best at yet” if that sounds less self-deprecating.)
Perhaps you’re one of those people who writes a lot of fluff without really trying. And you want to learn how to condense your paragraphs and be more concise. Your challenge for yourself — for a day, a week, a month, however long you want — could be to write a few 100-word stories. Something that’s going to be really, really hard for you.
Or maybe you have the opposite problem: you can never seem to write enough. You could challenge yourself by writing a story that takes place in only one place, without any dialogue, that has to last for at least 10 pages.
Maybe you’re terrible at writing dialogue. You might benefit from writing a story told completely through dialogue.
There are probably dozens of things you could do to improve. You just have to take the time to figure out where you want to focus your energy and your time.
Narrowing it down might seem overwhelming. But remember, you don’t have to tackle every single thing you want to do better all at the same time. Pick one and stick with it for awhile, until you feel like you’re ready for a different challenge. Then return to your list of possibilities, pick another, and focus on that one next. And so on.
You don’t have to “fix” all your issues all at once. Give yourself time to gradually wander outside your comfort zone. You can do it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
Hey! I’m vlogging my way through NaNoWriMo. Here’s yesterday’s video.