Creative Nonfiction Writing Exercises

It requires intensity of focus, rather than duration at one time.A focused hour a day is infinitely more valuable than five hours interrupted by work, or scrolling Facebook.The environment is the essence of your art, it is the firm base on which your work can thrive, breathe and bloom.

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As she walked us through the steps of writing short, powerful pieces, like her much-anthologized apologia “Swerve” and the sensory-rich “What I Could Eat,” she couldn’t stop smiling. Sometimes, the more constraints we give ourselves, the more fun we can have.

On the last day of the conference, I asked her about her generative writing group, which meets every week to do a series of unusual exercises: first, five minutes of subject-verb-object sentences; then, ten minutes of linking sentences; and finally, one long, continuous run-on sentence for twenty minutes. Think about the rules of a sport or a game: while a free-for-all may sound like fun, we often prefer to have rules and guidelines, and to see how much creativity and mastery we can accomplish within those guidelines.

Adam loves guitars, music, books, and his wife Lacey.

On the last morning of a writers’ retreat I went to a year ago, there was a tiny bell lying on the seat of every chair in the spacious conference center. Here were writers who took their art seriously, but not themselves—at least, not all the time.

Let’s forget about romanticizing a 6-month window to go away and create our best work.

Being head on in the problem makes your art even better.The trick is to utilize that as an energy giver, and know yourself when you can create something amazing.A little bit of work every day goes a lot further than you would believe. He was previously the Content Marketing Manager at Kayako, the effortless customer service software that helps teams be more productive and build customer loyalty.Practice your work as art every day, and The techniques that bring fame, status or success are not the easy methods people want them to be. When you seek advice and you turn to an online search, you’ll often be given a list of tools.And because it worked for that successful individual, you’ll instantly buy those tools, or download and install them. This is like asking Stephen King, “Stephen, I really want to write like you, everything you do is incredible, which pencil do you use?The weekend was unlike any gathering of writers I’d ever been to: for two days, we attendees had listened, enthralled, to one heresy after another. I was charmed to find the little trinket on my seat. While the auditorium began to fill, people traded them, pocketed them, bounced them from hand to hand. He asked us to take our bells, hold them as tightly as we could, and give them a shake.“Find a hobby that isn’t writing,” one speaker said. Nothing happened, although several faces turned red with exertion. I returned home from the weekend, set the bell on my desk, and told myself the next hour or two was just for fun. “It doesn’t take that much time to get writing done,” she said, and a gasp rippled through the audience.“Now take your bell,” he said, “hold it loosely in your hand, and shake it.” Lovely tinkling music filled the giant room up to its vaulted ceiling. Then I started to write—with results that surprised me. Themes like surprise, laughter, and a willingness to let go of self-consciousness and convention.“That’s how you need to approach writing,” he told us—not with clenched fists, but with open hands. I began to wonder if other writers knew something I didn’t. These writers have discovered ways to bring joy into their work, so perhaps it’s no surprise that their writing is a delight to read.Could writing be as enjoyable at the outset as at the conclusion? * Brenda Miller One of the workshop leaders at the retreat was Brenda Miller.


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