Writing Exercises to Help You Complete Your Novel

Although your novel is incomplete, you consider yourself a novelist. Does your protagonist harbor similar delusions? Describe them.

Close your eyes and imagine you are floating in a puddle of cheese. Your head has been transformed into that of an ostrich, and your body is made of air. Now open your eyes. What do you see? Is it the unfeeling whitespace of your unfinished novel?

Reread The DaVinci Code. Seethe.

Pretend one of your characters is writing his or her own novel. Would that novel actually have a believable ending? Steal it.

Look around your writing space. After you have completed your novel, which items will future generations want to save for your museum? What text will the title card for each item contain?

Try to describe how you are currently feeling with only one word. Avoid using the word “fucked.”

Story ideas can spring up from anywhere. Check your email. Still nothing? Try checking again. Is the internet still plugged in? Better check. Call your internet provider and ask them if there’s any chance they’re not delivering some of your emails.

Go to a crowded restaurant or coffee shop. Observe the conversations around you. When others laugh, are they laughing at your failure? Probably.

Pretend you have completed your novel, and you run into a friend from college. How quickly could you slip the phrase “published novelist” into the conversation?

Are there any pieces of writing equipment you have not purchased? 3″ by 5″ index cards? A new moleskine? An executive stressball? Sticky notes? 4-color clicky pens? Purchase them. The fact that you do not own these things is keeping you from completing your novel.

Vladimir Nabakov once described writing as “one of the truly natural things, as natural as taking a breath.” Describe what a cocky shit THAT guy must have been.

Take a set of Scrabble letter tiles and throw them into the air. Observe where they land. Now pick up the titles, one by one, and return them to their box. Also, your keyboard’s looking a little dusty. Go ahead and clean it.

Pick a story from the day’s paper. Pretend you are a character from your novel. How would that character respond to that story? You don’t really know, do you?

Mark Twain once said “a writer must disguise himself, occupying thoughts and personalities that are not his own.” Go ahead and dress up like Mark Twain.

Write your obituary. Pretty scant, isn’t it? Better complete that novel.

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