By Cole Smith
Do you want to flex your writing muscles more often? Stuck in a waiting room with too much time to sit idly, but not enough to dive into your WIP?
All of us have a few moments to spare for creative play. The next time you have a notebook (or a smartphone) and a little break, try these short, fun writing exercises:
Remember that song from the 90s about the color blue? This song. (Now it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the week – you’re welcome!) Everything in the song was blue. Pick a color and write a scene that is immersed in that color–but don’t say its name. Which emotions and moods go along with your color? What kind of character roams the scene? Write all around the color, filling in the details to express what you see in your pigment-saturated imagination.
Do you remember the game, “If You Were An Animal You’d Be…?” (Well, if you never played it, you’ve missed the opportunity to feel bent out of shape when someone suggests you’d be a chipmunk. It still stings!) This exercise is a little like that game. Come up with an antagonist who’s like a vulture. What does he wear? Where does he live? Is he a loner, or does he hang out with other vulture-types? How about a best friend who’s like a golden retriever? Faithful, enthusiastic, and sometimes a little ditzy…
See if you can link a character with his or her animal doppelganger. Have fun with this!
Scents can evoke powerful memories: the cologne your ex-boyfriend wore, the ripe, baked mud smell of an island at low tide, the aroma of homemade waffle cones at the ice cream parlor. Pick a scent and, without mentioning it, write a few paragraphs about the memories or images that come to mind. Need suggestions? Try cardamom, the ionized air after a summer rain, or smoke curling from an ornate, polished pipe.
Just because you’re stuck in a seemingly-endless checkout line or waiting at the DMV doesn’t mean you can’t redeem the time by sharpening your imagination and honing your writing skills. Try these short, fun exercises the next time you’ve got a little chunk of time. Who knows? You may even unearth a character to incorporate into your work in progress.
How do you pass the time while you’re trapped in traffic or waiting rooms?
Cole Smith is the author of Waiting for Jacob. She’s a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia–the best Virginia! She enjoys good coffee and great stories, and shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.