You don’t have to invest a lot of time in yourself to improve your writing skills. Just 10 minutes per day with these short writing exercises can help you improve the clarity of your words, enhance your storytelling, and even give more power to your creativity. Fit them in during your morning routine, when you get home from work, or even during a lunch break and you’ll find your writing can quickly improve.
#1. Free Writing
Sit down and just write for 10 minutes. The goal is to create 750 words of content about whatever comes to mind. You’re trying to develop a stream of consciousness that funnels your creativity from the mind to your fingertips. Now that means typing at 75 words per minute – maybe you’re not at that pace. That’s okay. Write as much as you can and do it every morning.
#2. Edit, Edit, Edit
It’s hard to find your own mistakes sometimes when writing, but it is pretty easy to spot the mistakes of another writer. Take a blog post, a news article, or even a page from your favorite book and edit it as if you’d been hired to do so. Correct grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, or offer creativity suggestions. By creating simulated feedback for another writer, you’re training your mind to watch out for similar mistakes in your own work.
#3. Advance and Extend
Every sentence you write must either advance the story in some way or extend the details of a character, an event, or some other specific aspect of the narrative being composed. If it doesn’t do this, the words written are non-essential fluff. You don’t want that. So take a character from your favorite story and use this writing exercise to put your own spin on the narrative. In one sentence, advance the story. In the next extend the details. Then repeat.
#4. Drop the Remix
Editing your work often means rewriting your work. Let’s face it – when you write, you delete a lot of words or sentences to start over. Sometimes you get this done in your head before it gets out. At other times, you realize that the last sentence of a paragraph works better as the first sentence instead. It happens. Practicing rewriting by taking a short blog post and writing it in your own words. Do not directly copy any sentence. This will work to improve your creativity because you must get the same message across while using different words and structures.
#5. The Curse of But
When creating transitions, it is important to remember what the purpose of each combination word happens to be. For example: if you told someone “I love you, but this doesn’t work for me,” then the “but” makes the first part of the sentence less important than the second. If you said, “I love you, and I need to find some other way for this to work,” then you’re giving equal importance to both. Using the wrong transition will convey an unintended message to the reader. Give your brain a workout by creating sentences with both transitions so you can see the difference.
#6. Newspaper Goodness
Ever notice that when you read the news, there are certain articles that jump out at you? It’s not just because of the information the article contains. The structure of the headline draws the reader into the content being offered. Every sentence you write should be able to create an equal draw. To practice this, come up with 10 headlines about a writing idea you have. They don’t have to be great headlines. They just need to be unique. This will help your mind be able to build upon an idea so it becomes a full piece of work instead of a concept you’re just thinking about.
If you’re not used to creating headlines, then this exercise might take more than 10 minutes the first few times you do it to get all 10 headlines. If you reach your time limit and all you have are 7 headlines, then roll with it. Try again tomorrow.
You can build up your writing skills just like you can build up your muscle mass with the right exercises. These short writing exercises can help you get into a creative state of mind quickly, get good content written in 10 minutes or less, and you’ll feel great about the work you’ve done.