There are times when you feel like writing, but are sick of what you’re working on, or stuck with what to do next. Or maybe you don’t have a current project, and don’t want to start a new one just yet, but still want to do a little writing just to keep in practice. That’s when a few little ‘exercises’ can come in handy.
On of my favourites is to write a drabble. This is a story that is 100 words long – exactly that. I used to write dozens of them when I wrote fanfic. I loved them. It’s a wonderful discipline – which words are really necessary, what do you actually need to write and what can be left unsaid? Do you write a whole story, or just s snapshot of one? you can base them around anything – a book, a TV show, something you can see out your window, anything.
One good way to use a drabble is to look at an idea you’ve already had but done nothing with. Write in a 100 words. If there’s nothing more to the idea, the drabble will get it on paper. If there is more, the drabble will be the basis for a longer story.
Another exercise I use is one I have blatantly stolen from Agatha Christie. It is to choose a person on the bus (or train, or street). It must be a person you don’t know. Look at that person, note everything about them – the green hat they wear, the newspaper they are reading, what catches their attention outside. Eavesdrop their conversation if you can (but don’t get caught!) Then, once you have all that, write a story around them. The story can be anything, but it’s starting point is that stranger on the bus, and the little you’ve learnt about them. Agatha Christie said this was a much better source of inspiration then people she actually knew – in fact, if she used someone as inspiration, then came to know them later, it ruined the whole story for her.
Those are just two ways to keep writing when you don’t want to, or can’t work on a big project. It’ll keep your inspiration flowing, whilst changing your subject. And it’s true what they say, a change is as good as a rest.