Writing Exercises to develop proficiency in writing

“The grey cells, they still function—the order, the method—it is still there.” Hercule Poirot

I do writing exercises to develop my proficiency in writing.  These are exercises that I have created over the years.  I first developed and applied them in the classroom when I taught mathematics. I had the students do these exercises to help them better understand complex math concepts.

There is a description of each exercise, the physical exercised after which is it patterned, and the key cognitive strategy it addresses.

(Note: The names given to the exercise are also my own creation.)

Objects in a Bag

Connect a concept or story to a set of objects, such as a social compact, text structures, stages of faith, or Bloom’s taxonomy.

This is like a weight bearing exercise because it forces your brain to work against conventional thinking, which helps strengthen your framework.

Key Cognitive Strategy: Research

 Map of the Journey

Describe a process or an experience, such as teaching or writing, as a journey.

This is like a muscle strengthening exercise because it uses the writing process to understand real world phenomena.

Key Cognitive Strategy:  Problem Formulation

Mobius Trip

Participate in another perspective of a concept.

This is like a balance exercise because it develops the ability to see multiple sides of an issue.

Key Cognitive Strategy:  Precision and Accuracy

Sailing to Byzantium

Analyze observations of the world from another generation’s perspective.

This is like an aerobic exercise because it expands the capacity for sympathy and empathy.

Key Cognitive Strategy:  Communication

Writing to Prompt

Write a story based on R. A. F. T. (Role. Audience. Format. Topic.)

This is like a flexibility exercise because it stretches the creative vision and keeps vocabulary limber.

Key Cognitive Strategy:  Communication


 I love doing these exercises.  I try to do at least one exercise every day. Whenever I get stuck writing for my book, I set the book aside and do a writing exercise.  Often the exercise reveals what I was trying to say in my story.

A few months ago, I was unsuccessfully trying to write a back cover blurb for my book.  I decided to treat it as a writing exercise; I pretended I was writing to a prompt.  It worked!  I managed to write an acceptable summary for The Book of Rhino.

I highly recommend doing some sort of writing exercise—one that works best for you. Just like physical exercise, a writing exercise is most beneficial when it is consistent and fits your needs and your lifestyle.

Contributed as Guest Post by S. M. Hart (author)

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