5 Exercises From Famous Authors That Will Sharpen Your Writing

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No matter how good a writer you are, there is always room for improvement. And there might be no better way of learning than taking cues from the very best in the trade. There is so much you can learn from them to take your writing skills to the next level. 

Take a moment to read what some of the top and acclaimed authors offer. Make time to try them and enjoy the benefits for free!

  • Overcoming writer’s block, Dani Shapiro

We have all been there. If you have ever attempted writing something, writer’s block must be familiar territory. This is when you feel utter incompetence and inability to eke out a line. It can be so bad as to make you regret you ever put pen to paper. 

Dan Shapiro, one of the best-known and bestselling authors, knows a thing or two about dealing with writer’s block. He uses a notebook in which he writes several sentences starting with the phrase, “I remember.” 

By using the phrase, you are forcing your brain to revive memories. You will be surprised by how quickly you manage to trick yourself into overcoming writer’s block, quickly regaining your creativity, and having words flowing again. This is a great method to use when writing a plagiarism free essay as part of your college assignment.

  • Sharpening observational skills, Ernest Hemingway 

A good writer is a good observer in the first place. Ernest Hemingway was definitely one of them. He once shared his method of observing and then recounting the observation with a young writer.

Observation means that you pay attention to every detail. If you’re fishing, you observe everything from your preparations to catching fish and the emotions that each action evokes. If you’re on your way to work, observe the people you pass by, cars, noises, raindrops, birds, etc. 

Once you start writing, reconstruct everything you have observed and try to translate it into words.  

  • Getting out of your comfort zone, Toni Morrison

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison encourages writers to focus on people and things they don’t know. It is easy to write about the people you know, and it is so much more exciting, albeit challenging to imagine and write about those you’ve never met.

This is a powerful method that boosts creative writing skills. You can take it a step further and develop a set of questions that you’d then try to answer by playing your imaginary character. The exercise helps you improve writing skills by getting you out of a rut.

  • Testing non-linear writing, Vladimir Nabokov

Try Nabokov’s index cards. The renowned author of Lolita practiced a non-linear method of writing. He’d record his thoughts on multiple index cards, which he would often shuffle to arrange in a different order each time. Every new sequence could prompt him to rethink the plot line. 

Nabokov could also jump from one section of his novel to another as he kept developing his story. Sometimes, changes made to the middle of the story could influence his prologue. Being unconventional never bothered the great writer and nor should it bother you.

  • Using vivid descriptions, C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis avoided using adjectives to describe people or things. Instead, he’d write to describe them so as to lead us to use the desired adjective. For example, if he wanted us to think of characters as hideous, he’d describe them in a way that would make us think of them as such.

He would also ask his students to replace specific adjectives in stories with vivid descriptions evoking the desired attributes.

Epilogue

There’s so much we can learn from famous authors. Most of their methods are unconventional and prompt you to think creatively. Heed their advice to sharpen your writing skills and take your stories to the next level.

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Joanne Elliot is an acclaimed professional writer and author. Her reviews of works by both classical and contemporary authors have gained popularity among readers of all ages, especially youth. Joanne also uses her grasp of fiction and non-fiction to help readers improve their practical writing, analytical, and communication skills.  

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