Exercises to Generate Creativity
Copyright @ 2001 The Pennsylvania State University
This site is devoted to offering as many exercises (and general good advise) for creative writing students who wish to avail themselves of them. Students should be aware that performing exercises will not in themselves cause a good poem, short story, play, screen play, or creative essay to be written. At their best exercises will lead the student to become more proficient in a wide variety of techniques; at their least they can provide the student with some reason to write, and unless the writer IS writing, she or he cannot write something of value. The first rule to becoming a writer is to write REGULARLY. To do this it is necessary to set up a time during each day when you can sit down somewhere and write for a given period of time. Of course the longer that time is the better. But all of us have lives to lead with a variety of responsibilities to fulfill. You should set up at least a twenty minute block of time when you can write, regardless of what you will be writing. Many writers prefer the early morning hours as the best time to do this. Writers are notorious for getting up early and working before their minds and their days become cluttered with the mundane events and responsibilities of life insinuate themselves. There are, however, some notorious night owls who preferred late night and even the very early morning hours (Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, and Marcel Proust,Rememberance of Things Past, are two classic Twentieth Century masters). Keep a Journal: Many of us aren't sure what we should be writing about during that space we set up to write in every day. At first we might have a good idea for a poem, or a few phrases that might fit into a song, or maybe some interesting conversation that we think could be part of a story, novel, or play, but the next day or the day after we might not have such a good idea. What should we do then? This is where keeping a journal comes in. A journal can be physically made of anything that it is convenient for you to write in and carry around. You'll have to discover what works best for you – loose leaf, sewn, ring binder, a file on your laptop, something that fits easily into your back pocket – whatever. The idea is that you have something to write in every day and that you can keep it with you, handy. You use a journal in two basic ways: the first is as a place to write in every day. In addition, a journal is a good place to jot down ideas, images, phrases, descriptions whenever you encounter them. You then have a ready reference that you can carry around with you as a source book for later writing projects, including having something to write about during that time you set aside to write. Keep in mind that a journal is not a diary. The audience for a diary is "the self"; that is, one keeps a diary only to read oneself. A journal is meant for publication. Although we might not intend for the actual journal to be published, the material that we put into it IS meant for delivery to a reader other than oneself. Audience: Young writers sometimes make one of the two following mistakes: They either assume they are writing for everyone or that they are only writing for themselves. In the latter instance, the proper response from their classmates and teacher is that "Well, you don't need us then, and what we think of your writing is completely irrelevant." In the former case, the truth is that the only two authors who have everyone's ear are God and the Devil. In my case, the only reason my mother reads my work is because I'm her son. She much prefers Romance novels over any other kind of writing, and I couldn't write a Romance novel if my life depended upon it (to ...