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sylvester-435376_640Writing every day isn’t always easy, especially this time of year. I have to admit, there have been many days this past month when I haven’t jotted down a single word, except maybe on a grocery list. For a writer, that’s bad. That’s my daily brain exercise neglected.  If I kept up that routine, my writing would surely suffer. In fact, I can already feel the effects—I’m getting lazier at my computer, slower to draft that first sentence, and more easily distracted by other duties.

That’s why I’m making my New Year’s resolution early, starting today. Despite the busy holiday season, I will take the time to sit down and write every day, even if it’s just a short session. Writing daily is a must for writers. It’s the only way to keep our creativity alive, flowing, and fresh. The writing doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does it have to be for publication. The point is just to write. Anything.

So, where do you begin when your mind isn’t focused on writing? Start with something easy and fun that won’t take up too much time. Here are some quick, daily writing exercises designed to get you writing. Try one today—and every day.

  • Find a word in the dictionary you’re not familiar with, and write a paragraph around it.
  • Write an essay about something funny or scary your pet did recently.
  • Review a favorite book, movie, or television program.
  • Make a list of writing projects for the New Year. Plan to develop your list in more detail later.
  • Write an old-fashioned letter to a friend or relative.
  • Sharpen your editing skills by reviewing a short, published article for typos, poor grammar, and stylistic problems, then re-write the article with your corrections and in your voice.
  • Finish the sentence, “The year 2014 couldn’t have been more….” Now explain why.

Of course, you could always start a big project today if you feel the motivation. Sometimes writers work best when they have little time in their schedules. The important thing is to make daily writing, even 20 minutes of it, a habit that will carry you into the New Year and beyond.


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new-years-day-68837_640Now that 2013 has kicked off, it’s time to get busy writing, right? Sure, except that it’s not always easy to shift gears after weeks of, well, slacking. Even if you have a list of writing goals for the new year, you may not know where to begin or how to begin or whether you should just scrap your list and start over.

Getting motivated to be productive during a long, cold month can seem daunting, for sure. But here’s an idea: why not begin with some easy, fun tasks that don’t actually require writing? I can think of three that might actually help kick-start your New Year:

  1. Get involved in the writing community. Take a class, sign up for an event, or check out local resources for writers. In Minnesota, there are lots of options for writers to get involved. I recently stumbled across this handy list of Resources for Minnesota Writers, provided by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.
  2. Consider writing something you’ve never written before. Have you always wanted to pen your memoirs? How about putting together a family history book or researching a person’s life and then writing a biography? Writers aren’t limited to one genre; in fact, writing something completely different can be highly rewarding and liberating – even if you don’t go on to publish it. So give some serious thought to a totally new project.
  3. Read, read, read. If you want to become a better writer, it’s what you have to do. Gather a pile of reading material, from magazine articles to a list of interesting blog sites to books. Then spend some quality time enjoying and learning from other writers and authors. It can be the single most important thing you’ll do all year.

Not quite ready to start writing? Give any of these prewriting tasks a try, and see how quickly January - and your writing slump - slip by.