In case you haven't noticed by now, I rely heavily on writing exercises. Whenever I feel stuck on my WIP (which is often unfortunately) I need to write something so I turn to a writing exercise. I have found that though sometimes the excercises don't seem fun to begin with, they are really quite helpful.
I recently borrowed a book from the library called "Writing and Illustrating Children's Books for Publication" by Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben. In it they talk about trying to remember what childhood was like for you and they gave an usual writing exercise. It seemed unusual to me because it didn't include writing anything. The exercise was to draw small basic pictures of things you remember from your bedroom as a child. Well since I'm trying to get in touch with my inner twelve year old, that's the room I used for this exercise. First I drew the door, then the bunk beds my sister and I shared, then my dresser, then my boom box, then the window, etc. The funny part was that as I began drawing each of these items, how I felt about each one, or the memories that item triggered came to the surface. Before I knew it I was writing a brief thought on each item. Then I was suddenly reliving childhood moments and remembering friends from that time, books I had read, how I felt about my family members. It was amazing and I really needed that.
When I took a creative writing class at college last semester we did lots of writing exercises. But I'm just going to tell about a couple of exercises that helped me the most. I like to write in 3rd person POV but my teacher said that I don't always attach the reader to the character's thoughts. So she told me when I have that problem to write the scene in 1st person POV to begin with the go back and just change the pronouns, etc. to 3rd person. It works really good and helps me to get into my character's heads a little better.
My favorite exercise we did in class was when my teacher gave us a vague situation, it was something like a woman comes home and finds her husband has been waiting for her for three hours, now let them have a conversation. We were only allowed to write dialogue, no tags, no staging, no action, just straight dialogue. It was amazing how each person in the conversation began to have their own voice. You could tell who was talking without having to say. Dialogue is sometimes hard for me so I was amazed at how the dialogue just flowed out of my pencil. It wasn't only easy, it was fun. (Writing dialogue is rarely fun for me!). So after we wrote for 10 mins we shared our writing and then the writing exercise for the next day was to go back to the same conversation and this time add the staging and acting, but to use as little tags as possible. By the time I was done, I was so proud of the piece. The teacher kept using mine as an example to the class. It was a major accomplishment for me to have a piece of dialogue I wrote to be singled out as the best. So now when I get stuck on dialogue, this is the approach I take.
Well these are just a few writing exercises I like. But I'm always up for learning about new ones. If you have any favorite writing exercises that help you when you're stuck please share them in the comments! Thanks!