Writing exercises

Exploding Bakeries

A good writing exercise will boost your creativity – it will open up your mind and let you experience a heightened sense of flow. Flow is considered the state where ideas emerge freely, undisturbed by the mundane.

This exercise is what I call ‘Stress Speed Writing’. It puts you on the spot, makes you think quickly and change direction all the time. If you want to do it easy mode, start the exercise now with a blank page and blank mind; if you want to try a harder version, take one of your existing stories or characters and keeping them in mind, try to stay true to what they are, no matter what I throw at you next.

This exercise will take 15 minutes.

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1. Start your writing with the sentence: “There was nothing better than the truth.”

Write without stopping for 3 minutes.

2. Add a rose somewhere in the next two sentences.

Write without stopping for 1 minute.

3. Start the next sentence with: “However, something …”

Write without stopping for 2 minutes.

4. Add an explosion.

Write without stopping for 1 minute.

5. Introduce another character.

Write without stopping for 3 minutes.

6. Change the weather.

Write without stopping for 2 minutes.

7. Add a bakery.

Write without stopping for 2 minutes.

8. Review and edit

Do this in the final 1 minute.

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This is the end of this exercise. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it sparked some creativity in you and hopefully gave you some ideas for future projects.

I would love to read your story so please leave it down in the comments or link me to your blog.

Feel free to use this exercise in your writing group.

Short fiction

The Ribbon

It was a garden like any other. A patch of grass behind a beautiful house. A mansion, some would say – but it is only a mansion if there are a few people living in it. For the Stewarts, a family of twelve, the big building was a tiny house.

Three generations lived there, and three generations shared the garden. The children would be outside in the mornings. After lunch, grandmother and grandfather would sit on the ground under the big old oak and reminisce about their days. Then Mr Stewart, the father, would come home and enjoy an evening chat his wife. After dinner, the sun would set and the garden would become quiet, resting for the next day.

But it was not only people that enjoyed the garden’s gift of beauty. A pair of rainbow birds had nested in the branches of the old oak. They chirped all day and at night shared a peaceful hug.

But tonight was somehow different. The Stewarts were restless in their beds. For an unknown reason most of them had trouble falling asleep. It was probably because the rainbow birds had not stopped chirping. They were excitedly discussing something, when everyone and everything was supposed to be fast asleep.

It was a red ribbon.

They had found it in the grass next to some seeds. After those were gone, only the fascinating piece of cloth remained, shining in the evening sun. They poked at it with their beaks and it danced around. They would then stop and look at it for a few seconds, confused by the stillness which engulfed it. They repeated this until they realised the red thing was either dead or was never alive in the first place. In any case, it had to have a purpose and they were determined to find out, because not knowing worried them.

You are probably wondering – what species were the rainbow birds? I never found out. They were small and fast, like swallows, but they had rainbow tails and wings with all the colours in the sky.

Their bodies were warm and soft, with shorter fluffy feathers allowing them to sleep peacefully through cold nights. One had a pastel yellow tummy, the other – light green. Robin Stewart, the third child, called them Lemon and Lime and frequently chased them around the garden.

Lemon and Lime were bewildered by the short red ribbon. They took it home and tried placing it on different parts of their nest. Nothing looked right. Then they put it around themselves like a fancy blanket but it slid off their feathers and fell into the darkness. The two birds got into an argument – what were they to do with it? It concerned them greatly, yet they had never before flown into the night.

Lemon didn’t wait for Lime to finish her warning and jumped off the branch into the darkness. He couldn’t see the ground so he spread his wings as soon as he felt the air getting colder. He glided around the tree trunk slowly, cruising down and when the fluffiness of his belly felt the sharp grass, he knew it was time to land. He looked up but couldn’t see the nest. A new worry appeared in his head – what was Lime to do without him, who would warm her while she slept? Would she be able to sleep at all?

He shook those thoughts off, he was on a mission. He waddled through the tall grass, trying to feel the silky ribbon with his little feet. Step after step, all he could feel was the cold soil. He chirped with disappointment. In a few seconds, he heard a worried chirp in response. It sounded distant but he knew it was Lime giving him courage from the top of the tree.

The cold was getting under Lemon’s rainbow feathers and he shivered every few seconds yet he pushed forward with one clear objective in his mind – to find the ribbon and its mysterious purpose.

Time passed. Finally, the night as if smiled on his fruitless efforts and parted the clouds, allowing the moon to illuminate the old oak.

Lemon chirped happily, loudly, hoping Lime would hear his excitement. However, there was no response.

He spread his wings and took off, finally able to see the tree. He flurried around, looking for the ribbon. Not long after, his eyes caught the glimmer of the silky material and he dived in, almost like a predatory bird, full of excitement. He finally found it!

He let out a few more chirps of pride. When he heard no response, a growing sense of disappointment settled in his tummy. Why was Lime not supporting him? Was she already asleep?

He secured the ribbon in his beak and set off. On his way up he got more and more agitated.

The moon hid between a curtain of black clouds just as Lemon reached the nest. He landed quietly, angry on the inside but still not wishing to disturb Lime’s peaceful sleep. He could barely make out her silhouette yet that didn’t stop him to flutter closer to her, drop the ribbon at her feet and snuggle up close. He tucked his beak under hers and ruffled her soft feathers.

He froze. She was cold. She wasn’t moving at all. Her little chest was not moving rhythmically as it used to.

Something was wrong. Lemon panicked and chirped, nipped at Lime, urging her to respond, to chirp back. Yet she remained silent.

Unsure what to do, Lemon picked up the ribbon. He flew in circles. Once, twice, soon she was completely wrapped in it. Please get warm, he wished as he frantically fluttered around her. The night responded to his heartfelt plea in silence. The moon did not show herself.

Lemon cuddled up close to Lime, just as any other night, hoping that she was going to be okay. His little heart felt like it was going to explode. It was beating too fast.

The sky changed from black to dark blue. Shivering, Lemon finally felt the sweet embrace of sleep. He closed his eyes and in his dream, he saw himself and Lime flying together towards the sun. And in their beaks, much to their pride, the red ribbon shined in gold, finally connecting them, as it was supposed to all along.

Writing exercises

We need to write about Alex

This exercise helps you practice your scene setting, dialogue and monologue writing skills. It has been designed to challenge the way you write as writers naturally prefer to write mostly using one of the three forms, frequently leaving the other two partially unexplored.

 

The exercise will take a total of 25 minutes writing and 3-5 minutes reading.

Have fun and do post your writing and thoughts in the comments section. I would love to hear what you thought!

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1. Pick a number from 3 to 100.
2. Pick a country or a city.
3. Pick an object (something real, tangible, not an abstract concept)

Let’s meet your character Alex. They can be anyone and anything. Their age is the number you picked. The place they grew up in is the country/city you chose. And your object of choice represents the character quirk of your Alex.

Now, come up with a profile of your Alex. Write about their physical characteristics, how their quirk affects them and maybe how others perceive them. But use no dialogue, only descriptive speech.

Write without stopping for 5 minutes.

4. Pick any colour.
5. Now pick a famous person or a character.

The colour you picked represents an emotion. Look at the table below and find the meaning of your colour.

Red Anger Orange Optimism
Yellow Caution Light green Content
Green blue Relaxation Dark green Jealousy
Dark blue Sadness Light blue Hope
Blue purple Tiredness Pink purple Compassion
Pink Love Brown Comfort
Grey Hopelessness Black Power
Other warm colour Curiosity Other cold colour Paranoia

Your Alex and the famous person you picked are having a conversation somehow related to your Alex’ quirk. The emotion you have is the undertone of the dialogue and has to be present in the way the two characters interact. Write only in direct speech, avoid any descriptive text.

Write without stopping for 5 minutes.

6. Return to the number you picked in the beginning.

If you picked an even number, after the conversation with the celebrity character, your Alex finds out they have a deadly disease. If your number was even, your Alex finds out they won the jackpot from the lottery. How do they react and what happens next? Write an internal monologue about this. Do not use direct speech or descriptive scene setting type of text. Use the first person.

Write without stopping for 5 minutes.

7. Look back at the three pieces of text you wrote.

Try to link them all together into one coherent story. Cut, add, edit freely.

Do this without stopping for 10 minutes.

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This is the end of this exercise. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it sparked some creativity in you and hopefully gave you some ideas for future projects.

I would love to read your story so please leave it down in the comments or link me to your blog.

Feel free to use this exercise in your writing group.

P.S. My Alex is a fourteen-year-old candle addict from Coventry. She loves burning candles despite her mum not allowing her to. Born with a silver spoon, she is the only daughter of a rich family. She finds out that Beyoncé has a special golden candle she uses in every performance and wishes to take it for herself. Alex gets into an argument with Beyoncé sparked from jealousy. Alex later finds out she has won the lottery. She thinks about buying her own candle-making factory and finally breaking free from the influence of her mother.

As you can see, the results are random but this is what I like about writing exercises. You never know what will pop up on the page. 🙂

Short fiction

Fitzwilliam Street

I love winter. The days are short and the nights are long. People are inside. The dirty streets sleep under a blanket of clean white snow. And Fitzwilliam Street becomes my domain again. Today its four houses are lit up with human chatter and I can’t help but peek into their guarded lives.

The Sitwells from One are fighting. Their son Arnie failed his test again. They don’t know he’s been too busy. I wish I could tell them he’s been taking care of a dying kitten he found at Three.

Miss Anna, living in Two, is a sex worker. She has men coming and going all the time. She’s sat in her kitchen now, crying while holding a small bunch of blue violets. She doesn’t know her Dad left them on her doorstep. I wish I could tell her he still loves her.

Three is vacant – most of the time at least. This evening, a homeless teenager is sat on the patio with a bowl of warm soup. He doesn’t know who leaves it there every Friday. I wish I could tell him it was Mr Sitwell.

And the Georgiev family of four, as always, are having their dinner together – smiling, chatting, sharing happiness. They often say it’s them against the world. I wish I could tell them Anna is Russian too.

I wish they knew what they don’t. I wish I could tell them. But I am a lonely beacon of light, the olden Fitzwilliam street lamp.