“The grey cells, they still function – the order, the method – it is still there.”
I do writing exercises to develop my proficiency in writing. The following is a description of each exercise in term of physical exercise and a key cognitive strategy it addresses. When I was teaching, I had my students do some of these exercises as a way to develop their mathematics proficiency and conceptual understanding.
Objects in a Bag
Connect a concept or story to a set of objects, such as a social compact, text structures, stages of faith, or Bloom’s taxonomy.
This is like a weight bearing exercise because it forces your brain to work against conventional thinking, which helps strengthen your framework.
Key Cognitive Strategy: Research
Map of the Journey
Describe a process or an experience, such as teaching or writing, as a journey.
This is like a muscle strengthening exercise because it uses the writing process to understand real world phenomena.
Key Cognitive Strategy: Problem Formulation
Participate in another perspective of a concept.
This is like a balance exercise because it develops the ability to see multiple sides of an issue.
Key Cognitive Strategy: Precision and Accuracy
Sailing to Byzantium
Analyze observations of the world from a Five perspective.
This is like an aerobic exercise because it expands the capacity for sympathy and empathy.
Key Cognitive Strategy: Communication
Writing to Prompt
Write a story based on a given prompt. R. A. F. T.
This is like a flexibility exercise because it stretches the creative vision and keeps vocabulary limber.
Key Cognitive Strategy: Interpretation
I love doing these exercises. I try to do at least one exercise every day. Whenever I get stuck writing for my book, I set the book aside and do a writing exercise. Often the exercise reveals what I was trying to say in my story.
A few months ago, I was unsuccessfully trying to write a back cover blurb for my book. I decided to treat it as a writing exercise; I pretended I was writing to a prompt. It worked! I managed to write a halfway decent introduction for Rhino.
I highly recommend doing some sort of writing exercise–one that works best for you.