Experimenting with poetry as a writing exercise can be a way to stretch your comfort zone, improve your writing skills, break out of writer's block, and introduce you to new ways of viewing your craft.

Read more

10 Creative Writing Tips to Break Out of Your Rut

Writing exercises that will help you surprise yourself and the reader

You don't have to be suffering from writer's block to feel like you're in a creative rut.

Maybe you're wildly prolific, but all your material is starting to sound the same. Maybe you've written a short story you love, but just can't find the right way to end it. Maybe you've been working away on a sonnet that really wants to be a villanelle.

Oftentimes, plot (or what we could call direction/momentum/impulse in a poem or piece of experimental fiction) can open up in interesting ways when we leave it alone for a minute and simply listen to the tone or voice of the writing itself.

Here are a number of writing exercises you can use when you'd like to experiment with voice, strengthen your writing muscles, and take your poetic or storytelling skills in surprising new directions.

1. Use an unreliable narrator

Nabokov had Humbert Humbert. Frank Bidart had Herbert White. Randy Newman has... hell, almost every song he's written is from the perspective of someone you just can't trust.

And here's the thing about unreliable narrators: when you know you can't trust them, you believe in them all the more!

Read more

[This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote for The Creative Penn. Click that link to read all 12 steps!]

Stuck in a writing rut? Are you sick of your own voice?

Write ahead of yourself!

Get out in front of your conscious, deliberate, critical mind. Free yourself from patterns and intentions wherever they’re stifling your writing. You may uncover something interesting that you never even knew you knew.

But how? It’s difficult to offer particular advice here, since every writer is walled-in by unique habits and proclivities. But I would recommend that you NOT start relying on drink or drugs to free up your creative mind. Your writing will suffer in a completely different way. Instead, try some of the free-writing prompts you can find online:

Read more

Put Yourself in Danger.

You were taught to look both ways before you cross the street, to check the temperature before touching the oven. Since pre-school, you’ve heard the “Safety First” mantra repeated ad nauseum. But the writing life presents a different set of dangers. Those are the ones you want to embrace. Don’t test the water’s depth first. Just dive in!

Here are a few prompts to try: Read more