10 Ideas for Writing Practice


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 topics for writing practice:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tell me what boredom feels like.
  • See in your mind a place you’ve always loved. Visualise the colours, the sounds, the smells, the tastes.
  • Write about “saying goodbye”. Tackle it any way you like.  Write about your marriage breakup, leaving home, the death of a loved one.
  • What was your first job?
  • Write about the most scared you’ve ever been.
  • Write in cafes. Write what is going on around you.
  • 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.

I hope these ideas are useful. Do you have any suggestions you would add? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it.

22 thoughts on “10 Ideas for Writing Practice

  1. Great ideas! I’m loving free writing before writing poetry these days. I pick a topic and write some prose about it to help me get started on a topic. Even if I don’t use any words from the free write in the poem, it’s a great little warm up. Before I started to write poetry I used to do this all the time but it wouldn’t lead to anything , now I can proudly say it can lead to poetry. I was just going for the wrong genre x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s great to hear that freewriting is your warmup before writing poetry. i like to describe it as ‘clearing the driveway of snow before getting to the front door’ (not my quote). well done you. wonderful to know you’ve found your genre and what works for you. such a breakthrough x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like to take a walk at the lake or sit and gaze at nature and let my mind wander when I have writer’s block. It is the same with sewing. When things simply did not look the way they should at the end of the day, I simply stopped. I knew a good night’s rest would help. I love your hints. I usually take a journal along when I go to the lake and write poetry or thoughts as they occur. Thanks for a lovely entry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so pleased to know you liked the post. thanks so much for the feedback. a walk at the lake or immersing oneself in nature sounds pretty good to me. like you, sewing, knitting or crocheting can calm the mind. and it’s hard to beat a good night’s sleep as a restorative activity. nature is such a wonderful inspiration for all artists. good to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your insightful comment, Libby. Right now, music consumes much of my time with upcoming performances in June. For me, music is food for the soul. The walks in nature inspire. Enjoy your creativity as well. Have a wonderful week.

        Liked by 1 person

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