5 Exercises To Get You Started On Your Writing Journey

5 Exercises To Get You Started On Your Writing Journey


Writers Write creates writing resources. This post suggests what it takes to be a writer and it includes five exercises to get you started on your writing journey.

This morning, when I woke up to write this blog, I had a headache. I didn’t feel like a writer. I didn’t feel like a human being. I poured a mug of hot, sugarless coffee. I liked the bitter aftertaste; it made me feel better. I still didn’t feel like a writer.

It took me a half an hour to write these fifty words.

If you’re just starting out as a writer, it can sometimes be hard to feel like you’re a writer inside, even harder to tell others. If you’re at a party and you’re asked what you do, it’s hard to say ‘I’m a writer’ – and not feel foolish.

A different way of being in the world

To be a writer, requires a different way of being in the world.

What do I mean by that?

Every writer’s journey is different. Some start writing early, as children even, while others find their way to writing later on. But all of us felt a sense of displacement – whether we were outsiders, underdogs, rebels, or just shy, there was this niggly desire inside. We had a secret. We wanted to make up stories. We wanted to tell our story. We wanted to be a writer.

Taking notes

As writers, our job is not to get words on a page. That may shock you and maybe I should say – it’s not your only job. The best advice I got as a young writer was to pay attention to the world around me.

Turn the lights and the music off, and listen to the rain. Try to find out why you’re fascinated with someone’s eye colour or the patterns on your bed covers. Listen more than you talk when you’re at that party. Normal people have scrapbooks or photo albums on their phones.

Writers don’t. Writers have notebooks in the shrewd back corners of our minds. We’re recording everything we see – and that may feel like a betrayal of the world around you or, at least, a childish fantasy.

Writing is powerful

When you get a sentence or a description on paper that captures – in words ­ what you saw, felt, heard or had long forgotten – you realise writing’s power. Writing suddenly makes sense. It becomes addictive. You start to see a purpose in it.

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, trust me, it will. You just have to come to the world as a stranger, a visitor, an angel with no agenda. And perhaps that’s the scary part – is putting pen to paper or opening your laptop and start turning the vague shapes in your imagination into hard, clear letters.

Here’s the thing

My headache has cleared now. I still don’t feel like a writer. I didn’t say what I really wanted to say to writers starting out their journey. Let me say this – writing is lonely. It’s the kind of loneliness that you’ll learn to love and to keep to yourself.

My best advice is this: Find time to be alone, not to write but simply to be alone and be present in a moment.

5 Exercises To Get You Started On Your Writing Journey

  1. Go to a library or a public park, look at books and statues ­– don’t take notes, just wander and observe.
  2. Write about your favourite table as a child – who is around it? What smells do you remember? Colours?
  3. Try to describe the sound of a voice on the page – it could be your lover’s, your best friend’s, a teacher’s from years ago.
  4. Tape record your own voice when you wake up and then late at night. Listen to it again. How has your voice changed?
  5. Write a letter to your favourite book. Tell it why you love it so much. Don’t address it to the author but the book itself.

Look out for The Writer’s Journey – 3 Ways To Craft Your Future next week.

by Anthony Ehlers

This article has 0 comments

  1. Peter Chabanowich

    Many thanks I send you for this delightful post. Being an aspirant writer
    (shudder) I find the stimuli you’ve suggested perfect as a guide for this
    next while.

  2. Jacqueline

    Anthony,
    Thank you very much for the helpful article. I have been lucky enough to have travelled around the world extensively I have seen so much, I have so much to say but I get confuse when I start to wonder in which language should I write. My first language is Spanish and my second is obviously English which is the language I use on daily basis by living in Australia. What should I do? which language should I use?
    If you happen to have any tips for me it will be very much appreciated.
    I thank you in advance,
    Jacqueline

  3. Sharvani Sharma

    Thank you so much for the helpful article. It has come up like that”bingo” thing to me, just at the right time. All gratitude to you for sharing the list of pointers.

  4. Anthony Ehlers

    Hi Jacqueline. You should write in the language you dream in, the language your hear in your head when you talk to yourself, in the language that calls to you. My second language is Afrikaans, but I find it difficult to write in this language because it’s not the language I’m most connected to. Here’s a tip: What language do you swear in when you drop something on your toe? That’s the language you should write in 🙂

  5. Cherie Mitchell

    Good words 🙂 I especially love the piece about always knowing and keeping it as a secret. Thanks!

  6. Jacqueline

    Thank you very much Anthony your last line gave me the answer. I only swear in English. I wouldn’t do that in my language ever. Thanks again. I will start writing today??

  7. Amanda Patterson

    This is a lovely post. Thank you, Anthony.

  8. LuckyLindy

    Thank you. Elegant simplicity in your tutorial, though not always easy to achieve! I keep the notebook, or recorder close…old habits die hard. But drawn to your concept of simply taking it all in, letting the mind and one’s imagination retain the important stuff for later.

  9. Kathleen Fracaro

    Great article! I always keep a notebook with me whether I am out and about or watching tv at night. I collect words, phrases. God gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason. Thank you.

  10. Brandy Montilione

    Thank you Anthony. Great post. I am a fairly new writer. When you mention the moment you find the power in words, I got that. I remember it well. What a feeling!

  11. Dhruvaksh Saha

    Hey Anthony, I had a little doubt. I am an 18-year old and I have been writing since the last 5 years. 3 years ago, when I realised that I wanted to make a career out of writing, I gave up many things, like colleges that would land me a good job. In short, I put my career on top my priority list. Right now, I’m getting romantic feelings for a lady, and this is really confusing, for I’ve always thought that romance would be an obstacle to my writing goals. I’m in a fix.
    I wanted to know can I become successful with additional relationship responsibility? Or should I drop the idea of romance and work hard towards my dreams?

  12. Anthony Ehlers

    Hi Dhruvaksh. Aldo Busi once said: ‘A writer has no need of a companian. He should wash his own underwear or go without.’ 🙂 On a serious note, I don’t think ‘living in the world differently’ means going with human love, romance, fun, or friendships. Writing is about following your heart. So is love.

  13. Michelle Wallace

    Delightful post!
    Thank you! 🙂

  14. Anthony Ehlers

    Thank you, Michelle. Glad you enjoyed it.

  15. Anthony Ehlers

    Be sure to look out for the next post, on Thursday.

  16. Amanda Patterson

    I love your follow up post, Anthony. If everybody else hasn’t seen it yet, here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1ER0Ce5

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