Exercise Your Writing Muscles

My favorite writing exercise is to string a group of random words into a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

One such story of mine, "Once Upon a Time," has been reprinted several times, and it all begin with a list of 10-12 words.

If you have a critique partner, you can set a day once a week or once a month or however often you choose, and give each other a list of words in the morning and have your stories due no later than the end of the day. The shorter time frame you give yourselves, the better. These stories do not have to be polished. You'll probably be finished in less than an hour with plenty of time to spare. If both of you enjoy this type of exercise, you may find yourselves racing - not only to see who finishes first, but also who has the best story.

If you don't have a critique partner, you can make up your own list of words. If you do this, I suggest you begin by keeping a small pad or a few index cards on your desk for this purpose. Each time you sit down, add a word to your list. The words should be unrelated. When you have enough words on the sheet or card, begin a new one. Do this until you have several. Mix them up.

When you have enough, begin your day by pulling one out of the stack and writing a story that incorporates every word on the list. Write it quickly. Let your subconscious make the connections.

If you write short, this gives you a start on a new story each time you do the exercise. If you write long, one or several may give you plot or character ideas or give you a new twist for a sagging middle.

Whether you write long or short, it will get your imagination and subconscious in gear and get you writing. Those muscles need to be exercised just like all your other ones.

Here's your first word list:

Let me know if you write a story from these words. Really let me know if it's published!