Posted by: Trudie Trewin | February 1, 2010

Writing exercises

But not as you know them…

There are plenty of sites on the triple w’s that deal with exercises designed to improve your writing, but this blog is not one of them. The exercises I’m talking about here are physical ones. Huh? So what’s that got to do with writing? Do I mean bicep curls with a biro? For those of you who haven’t zapped this blog back into cyberspace at the mere mention of physical exertion, let me explain.

Everyone know that for the most part, writing is a very sedentary past time. And pretty much everyone knows that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for you. (Even if that knowledge is buried deep within, and trying desperately to stay there.) So what’s a writer to do? Writing exercises, that’s what.

There are two occasions where these exercises are useful. The first is on those days where the words are flowing and the fingers are tapping the keys like mad. You don’t want to stop, but eventually the bum starts to feel like plasticine that’s been left too long in the sun. First it spreads out, then it hardens. Sound familiar? I used to alleviate this feeling by getting up and wandering aimlessly for a few minutes…. until I realised that my ‘aimless’ wander always seemed to end up at the fridge or pantry. Which just meant there was more plasticine to spread the following week.

So now, whenever I get plasti-bum feeling, I get up and do some exercises. Doesn’t have to take long, doesn’t have to be complicated.  Skip for 30 seconds. Lift a big dictionary over your head, then squat it to the ground and back up 5 times. Do 5 star jumps. I have one of those step-up boxes, and I’ll often just stand in front of it and jump on to it and off again 5 or 6 times. (Little tip – if you’re like me and have failing eyesight, remember to take your reading glasses off before jumping up onto a step or you’ll think it’s closer than what it really is…!)

The other occasion where exercises are useful is the opposite of the first – on the days when the words just won’t come. Instead of staring at a screen at a loss for the next sentence, do some shuttle runs. Do them fast, and bend to touch the ground at the end of each run. You can’t  stop until you’ve come up with the next sentence. This works a treat with me. I’m guaranteed to come up with something pretty quickly… even if it’s awful, but at least it gets me started again!

The great thing about doing these exercises is that when an acceptance comes, you can celebrate with chocolate, biscuits, cake, wine, beer… whatever, with a clear conscience!



  1. Trudie, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been getting up ridiculously early so I can manage to fit exercise and writing into my already busy life. The alarm goes off at 5:30am, at which point I throw on my trackies and head out for a 30 min walk/jog. When I come back, I boot up my computer and do sit ups while it’s slowly coming to life. By the time I sit down to write, my blood is pumping and my head is clear. I have about an hour of uninterrupted writing time before the kids wake up and I have to put my ‘mum’ hat firmly back in place for the rest of the day. I think my productivity in writing at the moment is in great part due to the fact I’m exercising first.

    Happy star jumps/steps/dictionary-above-the-head-lifts & happy writing, of course 🙂

  2. I nearly always start the morning early with running or weights too, Karen. It certainly does clear the mind.

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