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Writer’s block is something every writer faces from time to time. But while it’s a common problem that can get in the way of productivity and making money, it’s not all bad. Here’s why: Not every writing session has to be devoted to writing for the job. Practice writing can be just as purposeful by giving you the opportunity to hone your skills and recharge your mind and creativity. In fact, a day of practice might just be the ticket to reversing writer’s block. Even better, there are ways to practice writing that can pay off big. Here are ten to get you started:

Write To-Do Lists

Not only are to-do lists fun to write; they’re a great way to organize your routine. Check out my earlier blog post on writing to-do lists. Make them as short, long, simple, or detailed as you want. Then use your lists to help you get back on track with your professional writing endeavors.

Compose an E-mail

To anyone! Write to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while. Send out a request for writer’s guidelines to publishers you’re interested in querying. Or, draft an anonymous e-mail—just for practice and the sheer fun of it.

Design a Flyer

Are you’re planning a garage sale? Organizing a fundraiser? Design an attention-grabbing flyer for the event. Have fun choosing words, images, and fonts. Your creative practice can earn you plenty of kudos, along with cash.

Pen a Thank You Note

Handwritten thank you notes may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated. If you have someone to express gratitude to, go for it. They’ll appreciate the gesture and you’ll get satisfaction too, along with some useful writing practice.

Offer to Edit

A writer friend or spouse may be able to use your help with something they’ve written. Offer it up. You’ll gain editing experience and the joy of doing someone a favor. Editing is also a nice diversion from writing that still offers practice working with words.

Rewrite a Bio or Resume

Bios and resumes always need updating. Find a fresh photo and revise your experience to reflect your growth. It’s great practice and something you’ll need to do eventually. If your bio and resume are already up-to-date, offer to rewrite one for someone else.

Make Up a Word Game

Love to think up word games? The sky’s the limit when it comes to conjuring up puzzles using words. Make up with something unique or create your own version of a familiar word game. Be sure to test your word game out on friends or family—that’s half the fun.

Record the Details of Your Day

Whether you journal regularly or not, it’s a great way to practice writing in an informal, liberating way. For tips of how to get started, check out this post. The benefits of journalling go far beyond the writing sphere; you’ll gain confidence, peace of mind, and an optimistic outlook too.

Cut Words

Find a newspaper article or blog post that interests you and start chopping away. Take out everything you can without changing the meaning and readability of the piece. It’s great practice for slimming down word counts in your professional work.

Create Captions

Wish you could put a caption on your favorite picture on the wall? How about the scene outside your window or last night’s dream? Writing captions is a satisfying way to practice writing and pass time, not to mention a great activity for tapping into your creativity.

You don’t always have to write to sell. Whether you’re facing writer’s block or just want a day of simplicity, practice writing can be the perfect solution. Give the above ideas a try, and see how fun and rewarding it is to practice your craft.

Image by Nick Youngson

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If you’re thinking about doing some charitable giving this holiday season, why not give the gift you know best—writing? There are many ways to put your talents to work for others, and doing it for free actually benefits you too. Volunteer work not only teaches new skills, it improves self-worth and confidence and provides an outlet for networking. You might even land some paying gigs in the process!

Ready to give a little year-end writing for free? Here are 12 ideas to get you started:

1. Write Grants for Nonprofits

If you’ve never done grant writing in the past, it’s never too late to start. Seminars and courses on grant writing are widely available, but you might also find a grant writing mentor to guide you through the process. Check with your favorite nonprofit for volunteer grant writing opportunities or go to volunteermatch.org for ideas.

2. Volunteer Your Editing Skills to Schools

Students of all ages and backgrounds could use a little writing help, and many teachers welcome writers to share their expertise. See how you can help a school in your community by volunteering your writing and editing skills—or just visiting to discuss your profession.

3. Guest Blog for a Website

Whether you get a link back to your website or not, guest blogging is a great way to volunteer your talents to another writing professional or startup business. Be willing to blog about whatever would help the website gain exposure and readers.

4. Write for a Community Newsletter

Newsletters contain valuable information for the community. If you have a newsletter you like to read, why not contribute to it? Animal rescue groups, arts councils, chambers of commerce, and other local organizations put out newsletters regularly. Find one that interests you and get crafting!

5. Write a Letter to an Inmate

Check with local and regional prison and correctional facilities for direction on writing letters to inmates. Or, see if a local church has a prison outreach program that encourages inspirational letter writing.

6. Draft a Response to a Newspaper Editorial

Did you read an article recently that got you thinking? Newspapers like to print responses to their editorial pieces from readers. You won’t get paid, but you will get noticed—and read.

7. Contribute to a Nonpaying Magazine

Nonpaying magazines may not be your first choice when it comes to submitting your work, but your contribution can pay off in more ways than monetary reward. You’ll help the editors fill their calendar, support your peers, and give readers the gift of the written word. Submit to a nonpaying children’s magazine or e-zine, and impart your knowledge for the benefit of the next generation of readers and writers.

8. Host a Writing Workshop

Got kids in the neighborhood who like to write? Invite them over for a fun day of writing activities. Play word games, write stories based on a popular theme, or have the kids rewrite a favorite fairy tale. You might also volunteer to host a writer’s workshop at your public library or other venue.

9. Help Fundraise with Free Content

Fundraisers help a worthy cause or an individual in need. Write content to help fundraise, and see how your writing can bring in money to improve the lives of others. If you don’t know where to fundraise, look online for fundraising options where you’re work might be needed.

10. Write a Review

Holiday books and movies are popular this time of year. Volunteering to write a review helps people decide which one to pick. When writing a review, avoid going on a rant. Try to find the positive in everything, but be honest about your opinions and experience. You might also write a review on a new restaurant in town.

11. Tutor for Adult Learners

Want to help adult learners become better writers? Sign up to offer tutoring help. Check with the library or a community center for information on volunteer tutoring work.

12. Volunteer with Distributed Proofreaders

If you like to proofread, volunteering with Distributed Proofreaders might be just the ticket. Distributed Proofreaders welcomes help from anyone who enjoys working with words. You’ll help proofread public domain e-books as part of Project Gutenberg and can do it a page at a time or whatever fits your schedule. For more information, go to https://www.pgdp.net/c/.

Image by Shayla

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exclamation-point-64050_960_720Drills aren’t just for military personnel. In fact, just about anyone can benefit from training exercises—writers included. Here are seven simple drills that can boost your writing skills and make you better at your craft. Try one a day this week, and see how they improve your clarity, creativity, and style.

Take a quiz. On something writing related, like spelling, grammar, or vocabulary. Quizzes can be found in magazines or online and can help refresh your memory and expand your writing knowledge. Plus, they’re fun to do. You might be surprised at how much you know—or don’t know.

Rewrite a sentence. Pick a sentence, preferably a complex one, from a favorite book or a magazine or newspaper article. Now rewrite the sentence to make it stronger, clearer, and more readable. Or, using your unique style, revise the sentence to reflect a different tone.

Read content. From pamphlets to signage to blog posts, content comes in all forms, and taking notice of it can help you become a better writer—especially when you analyze it, edit it in your head, and ask yourself what works about it and what doesn’t.

Study a word. Is there a word you’ve run across lately that intrigues you? Look it up, then study its definitions and origin. Use it in a sentence or in speech. Get comfortable with the word and incorporate it into your writing and vocabulary.

Write a filler. You know those short, front-of -book pieces in magazines, like a list of tips, a simple recipe, or a brief how-to? They're easy to create and a great way to learn how to cut words and write short. Give one a try.

Review punctuation rules. Punctuation is often underused, overused, or misused. Review the rules of punctuation from your favorite style book and experiment with using each mark. Keep in mind that rules are meant to be guidelines, not set in stone.

Write an acrostic. Acrostic poems aren’t just fun to write; they exercise the brain. The best part is, you don’t have to be a poet to write an acrostic. Need some help getting started? Check out these tips on writing an acrostic poem.

Do you have any other drills that help boost your writing skills? Please share your thoughts!