10 Ways to Practise Writing

photo of a woman thinking

Sometimes we sit at our desks to write and can’t think of anything to write about.  We face the blank page.  We sit there until blood pours from our foreheads, as one famous author was heard to say.

Making a list can be good.  It makes you start noticing material for writing in your daily life, and your writing comes out of a relationship with your life in all its richness.

10 ideas for writing practice:

  1. Begin with “I don’t remember”. If you get stumped, just repeat the words “I don’t remember” on the page again and keep going.
  2. Tell about sound as it arises. Be aware of sounds from all directions as they arise:  sounds near, sounds far, sounds in front, behind, to the side, above or below.  Notice any spaces between sounds.
  3. Tell me about last evening. Dinner, sitting on the couch, preparing for bed.  Be as detailed as you can.  Take your time to locate the specifics and relive your evening on the page.
  4. Tell me what boredom feels like.
  5. See in your mind a place you’ve always loved. Visualise the colours, the sounds, the smells, the tastes.
  6. Write about “saying goodbye”. Tackle it any way you like.  Write about your marriage breakup, leaving home, the death of a loved one.
  7. What was your first job?
  8. Write about the most scared you’ve ever been.
  9. Write in cafes. Write what is going on around you.
  10. Describe a parent or a child.

Some people have a jar full of words written on pieces of paper and select one piece of paper at random each day and write from that.  Others use a line of a poem to start them off.  Then every time they get stuck they rewrite that line and keep going.

Be honest.  Cut through the crap and get to the real heart of things.

Zen Buddhist, psychotherapist, writer and teacher, Gail Sher in her book One Continuous Mistake says the solution for her came via haiku (short unrhymed Japanese poems capturing the essence of a moment).

 “For several years I wrote one haiku a day and then spent hours polishing those I had written on previous days.  This tiny step proved increasingly satisfying,” Gail Sher.

She said it gradually dawned on her that it was not the haiku but the “one per day.”  Without even knowing it, she had developed a “practice.”  Every day, no matter what, she wrote one haiku.  In her mind she became the person who writes “a haiku a day.”  And that was the beginning of knowing who she was.

Gail Sher suggests writing on the same subject every day for two weeks.

“Revisiting the same subject day after day will force you to exhaust stale, inauthentic, spurious thought patterns and dare you to enter places of subtler, more ‘fringe’ knowing,” Gail Sher.

She writes in One Continuous Mistake that the Four Noble Truths for writers are:

  1. Writers write.
  2. Writing is a process.
  3. You don’t know what your writing will be until the end of the process.
  4. If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is to not write.

So start coming up with your own list of ideas for practice writing.  Life happening around us is good grist-for-the-mill.

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12 thoughts on “10 Ways to Practise Writing

  1. Terrific advice, Libby … and I could see some of these prompts becoming much longer pieces. I’ve found it useful to at times write knowing it is just for myself – this gives me the freedom to be as raw and short as I like – experimenting with the craft. It was interesting to learn about Gail Sher and how she effectively found who she was through her daily haiku practice. Lots to think about here and I’m inspired by some of on your lists! Wishing you a lovely start to the week! 😀🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    1. great feedback, Annika. thank you so much. yes, it is very freeing when we write just for ourselves. we can dig deeper and find out what it is we really want to write about. glad you were inspired by some of the writing prompts. we need all the help we can get to keep ourselves going with new ideas. it is 7.30 pm as i write this on Sunday in Sydney and i notice it is 10.30 am Sunday morning in London. best wishes to you for a regenerative day of rest. thank you again for your wonderful response to my post 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. excellent Tammy. yes, taking a line and writing from it is a great idea. and writing out a paragraph is a good way to feel the rhythm of another writer. as you say, the paragraph, or the line, starts you off and then your own ideas take over. thanks so much for sharing what works for you as a writer.

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    1. yes, Jacqui. you are a long way along the writing path, you don’t need practice. i don’t practice either, but sometimes i need inspiration. it’s great that you have so many ideas just waiting to be typed on the screen. go girl 🙂

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