Exercising the Writer in You #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop

My head gets overwhelmed at times with too much noise when I’m writing – when that happens, I know it’s time to put down my pen – or close my laptop – and go for a walk.  

About a mile in, I’ll start to exercise my writer brain by playing my “Describe the Character” game. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. What it does, is give you something else to focus on, while being a bit fun, easy – and if you’re lucky, you can actually develop the great beginnings of a character or scene out of the exercise.  In my first book CANELA, this was how I figured out how to combine characters.

Here’s how to play: simply pick a random item in the area and then, without justifying or qualifying, describe it as thoroughly as possible. In this case, about a mile into my walk, I saw a shadowy figure approaching me…without staring too directly, I took in all that I could.  Once I passed the person, I jotted down my thoughts in OneNote:

  • Tall, black running tights, white stripes, three.
  • Baseball cap, tight black shirt, pecs. Muscular.
  • Runner. Walking. Hurt. Long legs. Strong arms.
  • Smile, lots of teeth, white, capped. Bright blue eyes. Long lashes.
  • Brown hair, white, corporate, executive, Tesla.
  • Handsome, scruff, married, kids, forty-two.
  • Friendly, smirk. Head nod. Kind. Neighborly.
  • Deep. Fall. Cold. Confidence. Unafraid. Worthy.
  • Swimmer. Parent. Having a good day anyway. Nice.

When I’m having a tough time writing I see it as an opportunity to change things up a bit. As I mentioned in a past post about writer’s block, I like to think of these moments as opportunities.  It’s as if the universe is conspiring to have me try something else to get a different creative result.  And I have to say, after doing this, I’m hardly ever disappointed.  At the very least, it always gets rid of the noise.

I sometimes practice this at my desk as well. I can’t always just go for a walk, especially if it’s the dead of night, so in this case, there are other ways to exercise the writing jewels (my brain).  I’ll close my eyes, take a breath and let it out and whatever lands in my eye-line when I open them, that’s what gets described. Here’s what I wrote in OneNote about an ink cartridge:

  • Dirty. Complicated and expensive. Hate.
  • White, black, a mess of sorts.
  • Necessary. Important. Unavoidable, but useful.
  • Clear. Colorful. Toxic. Technology – Techy. Easy, home use.

Another way to do this is to put on any random song and describe how you feel immediately after listening… In this case, I listened to Lizzo’s Good As Hell

  • Positive. Joyful with an attitude. Walking like a model. Freedom.
  • Bopping. Swaying. Giggling. Laughing. Confident. Superior.
  • Happy. Smiling. Advising. Powerful. Elegant. Class. Proper with a touch of street smarts.
  • Beautiful. Fabulous. Building someone up. Feeling like you got more to do.

The point is, when you can, use tools available to exercise the creative juices.  I know writers who use flash cards or just do free writing exercises. The more ways you can self-motivate your creativity and learn to “unstuck” yourself, the better! Now, with these three descriptive pieces of information, I can start writing a new scene or develop a character.  At the very worst, I’ve had a little break and stopped the initial noise I had in my head. I can now get back to what I was working on. Win-win!

What tricks or tools do you use to keep yourself in that creative space? 

As always, thanks for stopping by!


A Monthly Blog Hop for Authors Who Want to Learn More about Being Authors 

25 thoughts on “Exercising the Writer in You #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop

  1. This is a great tip! I always think of writing as exercising my brain and this is a great workout. People watching is a fantastic way to get inspired. Thinking about sonder and how everyone has a life as complex as mine helps me work on my empathy… which is what writing a story is all about in my opinion.

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  2. That’s such a great exercise! I’m going to give it a try.
    I do a lot of visualization exercises, which is really just a fancy term for day dreaming. I imagine my characters doing normal, day to day stuff. Making coffee: are they humming? Are they rushed? Are they clumsy? Getting to work: Was mode of transportation? Are they happy to be going to work, or dreading it? Listening to music: Are they dancing or moving to it? Are they in a bad mood and grumpily switch it off? That sort of thing. I find it gives me a lot to work with.

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    • I love that! “Fancy term for day dreaming” — That’s too funny! I’m a huge believer in day-dreaming! I love the questions you ask — I will think about those as well next time I’m creating — I think adding questions to my little exercise is leveling up. Thank you for that! Hugs.


    • Meditation is so hard for me. I am jealous of those who have mastered it. I do try. Weekly now at least, but it really is something I’m determined to understand. I do believe it is so helpful health-wise and now you’re telling me it’s helpful in this way too? Thank you – more reason for me to commit to the practice a bit. Sitting still and clearing my mind: #goals!


  3. Sounds like a fun exercise 🙂 I find I’m always more creative when I’m walking or cycling. I think it must be the lack of distractions!


  4. Oooo, this sounds fun. I love little games like this. When I was in New York this past summer, I used subway transit time to find character inspiration, and hopefully the people I was jotting notes about on my phone didn’t catch me staring lol.

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    • Love that! Oh, how I miss living on the East Coast some times because YES! The train/subway were the perfect place to observe and consider the possibilities. Oh, and if I remember correctly, so much happening in the trains in New York, I’m sure NO ONE CARED AT ALL that you were writing/staring! hahahaha! It’s just how NY subways roll…


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