Writing exercises. What image does that conjure up in your mind? Do you see hours of boring writing chores that bog you down or only strengthen your inner suspicion that you are not a good writer?
The very word exercises brings with it the possibility or probability of yet another meaningless task to perform. I’m painting a pretty dismal picture here, aren’t I!
BUT, what if there were actually writing exercises that you could do that are fun? What if an exercise could hold multiple purposes that benefit you and others as well? And what if, during the course of this worthwhile writing project, you very quietly establish the enviable habit of writing and publishing on a regular basis? Maybe this isn’t so boring after all!
It doesn’t take long to see, if you read much of my content or watch my videos, my heart leans toward the everyday writer. That’s the one who enjoys the craft of writing, is passionate about some part of life, and can’t help but bring the two together in words. Hopefully, you are one of those yourself!
For that reason, I am passionate about helping you, the everyday writer, to write more, write better, write now. The nature of your writing project is not the most important element. You might not even presently be working on a project of any kind. It’s okay to be idle sometimes, maybe even helpful for a season. But at some point it’s time to get up and start writing!
That’s why I look for ways to encourage you to write. My mind is always thinking about ways to motivate that writer in you. I look back through my experience as an editor and writer for keys I have learned that unlock the creative flow. From practical to prayer and everything in between, I want to bring you help and hope in your writing endeavors!
Is everyone going to write a book? Probably not, but I am firm in my belief that everyone does have a story. Some of you have many stories. And all of you need to be writing!
Writing Exercises: Not just a boring task
There are all kinds of writing exercises in the world! I can’t help but remember back to my school years. One of the skills I learned was shorthand. Every class was an endless stream of stenographer notebooks and the smoothest-writing pens I could find.
In the beginning of that learning process, weeks were spent learning and practicing strokes and brief forms. Page after page, night after night, I gradually filled countless notebooks with the equivalent of hen scratches. The monotony was cruel at times, at least that’s how it felt as I was doing it.
However, I am now nearly 50 years past those exercises. Today shorthand is like a second language to me. I use it constantly. Part of that learning process taught me specific ways of listening and writing that are still so useful to me now.
Now, it would still be valuable if the writing exercise I want to share with you today was boring and tedious like shorthand was. But the good news is that this one is not boring at all. To the contrary, this one could be quite challenging for you if you take it seriously!
Writing Exercise: The everyday writer’s best friend
One of the most common situations I see among writers is the difficulty faced when trying to actually complete a writing project. I wonder where I could vacation to if I had a dollar for every unfinished manuscript that lies abandoned in some drawer or computer file somewhere. Add to that the innumerable host of book or blog ideas carried aimlessly in writers’ minds–yes, I could have quite the vacation of my choice for as long as I wanted!
The truth is simply this: for many writers, the thought of actually completing something AND publishing it, too, is a mountain they just can’t seem to climb. Excuses abound, and they all sound reasonable to the one making them. But down under the excuses there lies a deep dissatisfaction and a writing dream that won’t go away. Can you relate?
So, here’s the deal. At some point you just have to do it. You sometimes just might need to sneak up on yourself! This writing exercise does just that. It takes the focus away from the writing itself and puts it onto a fun way of connecting or reconnecting with family and friends.
Creating a family newsletter can become the everyday writer’s best friend.
Family Newsletter: Complete the cycle of writing
If you are writing a book, the goal is to complete the writing and editing in order to publish that book. Your reasons for wanting to publish it are many and varied, but a book written and not published in some form touches no one. And so you publish.
The same is true if you are blogging. You write content that is meant to impact others. And when that content is completed, just like the book writer, you publish it. Though the publishing methods are different, the ultimate results are identical. You publish your writing so others can gain from it.
So a project goes from first thought through all the steps of creating and writing and ends up in publishing. At that point, the writer moves to the next project and does it all over again. Painting with a broad stroke, this is what I call the cycle of writing.
Since the blockage so often appears in the completing and publishing of your work, creating a family newsletter is a very effective and fun writing exercise to establish the writing cycle in your work.
Family Newsletter: What is it?
A family newsletter can take on many forms. There is no one “right” way to do it. The look, feel, and content of yours will depend greatly on the make-up of your family and friends group.
If your group of loved ones is a large one, you might decide to create a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Talk to members of your group to find out what they’re doing that is interesting, fun, exciting, or worthwhile. If someone is sick or going through a struggle, offer a bit of encouragement to them through the newsletter. Use it as a means of updating everyone about their condition or situation, and share with them ways they might be of help to that one.
Find out how students young and old are doing in school. Honor those who are earning scholarships or degrees. Celebrate a child’s advancement in their school or sports activities. Celebrate birthdays by writing a tribute to each one. Let your family situation guide you in your development of your family newsletter.
Some of you have little to no family around you. I understand that as I fall into that category myself. Maybe your family is scattered or broken. That’s still okay. I bet you do have a circle of friends and extended family within your circle of influence. Use your family newsletter to connect with them.
One of the interesting things about connecting through a family newsletter like this is that the connection can run in all directions. Yes, you are connecting to everyone, but you will find that, eventually, all the members of your group will begin to connect with each other at new levels, too.
Family Newsletter: How to do it?
The simplest way to put out a family newsletter is to use email. Therefore, let’s assume that is your publishing choice. From there, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is on my list?
- Do I have everyone’s email address?
- How often do I want to publish my newsletter?
- What topics do I want to cover?
- Have I set up files to manage all the information?
- What are my target dates for gathering info for each publication?
- How can I feature parts of my writings in this newsletter?
Your specific situation may bring up other questions. That’s expected. Add them to this list and get the answers to all of them clear in your mind. Then you’re ready to gather up all of your email addresses and make an announcement about your new family newsletter. Invite others in the group to help you!
One thing that can be helpful is to find a newsletter template that you like. There are many out there online. Here’s a link to give you some examples.
Obviously, the more often you publish a new edition of your newsletter, the faster you will get used to completing that writing cycle. But even if you decide to just put out one copy this year–maybe for the Christmas holidays–you are still writing and publishing for real!
Writing Exercise: The writer’s benefits
That saying, writers write, is quite true. By creating a family newsletter on an ongoing basis, you are moving yourself out of the realm of just writing something. You are entering the reality of writing and publishing. You are teaching yourself to both start and finish. That combination is an enormously valuable “power tool” to any writer!
The family newsletter also provides you with rich opportunities to tell other people’s stories. Is there a high school graduation in your family? Take that news item and write up that young person’s hopes and dreams. The writing options are limitless when you take upon yourself to create something of value like this.
Your writing skills will improve. Your understanding and empathy of others will grow stronger. From writing exercises such as this you subtly learn the art of creating characters, telling stories, and drawing out the story behind the story.
Does it take time? Of course it does, but so does every worthwhile thing you do. And although creating a family newsletter does involve work, it is also a tremendous gift you give to both others and yourself.
Come on! Take the challenge! For some of you, this is resonating in your heart. Don’t wait another minute! Make your decision to create an ongoing family newsletter and get started today! This one writing exercise is loaded with good things for you and yours! Let me know how yours goes!
As always, if you have a writing project and need editing, coaching, or other writing services, please contact me now. I look forward to working with you!
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Thank you & God Bless!