4 Reasons I Quit Writing Exercises

4 Reasons I Quit Writing Exercises

Creative writing exercises are a staple of workshops and a beloved tool of many authors, but are they really an effective use of time and energy?

Writers are encouraged to keep writing journals where they spend at least fifteen minutes every day writing whatever pops to mind: story ideas, essays, stream-of-consciousness paragraphs, writing-prompt brain stretchers, etc.

My (Non-) Adventure With Writing Exercises

For a brief period in the early days of my writing, I dove into journaling as enthusiastically as anyone. I bought myself a big red notebook, a kit of writing prompts, and even a calligraphy pen and ink for inspiration’s sake. Every day, before sitting down to start my work-in-progress, I would flip open my notebook, run my finger down the list of writing prompts, dip my pen in the ink, and start scribbling.

You know what I gleaned from my labors?

Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Now before I begin my tirade, let me say that just because something wasn’t right for me doesn’t mean it isn’t right for everyone. Maybe journaling is a mine of creative gems for some people. Maybe it is conducive to that sometimes elusive dance with the muse. But maybe it’s also a waste of time.

4 Reasons I No Longer Use Writing Exercises

1. Time Is Precious

I write a novel every three years. If I keep that pace throughout my life and if I live to the ripe old age of eighty, I may be lucky enough to write a whopping total of twenty stories. Time’s a-wasting! So why would I want to spend that precious time scribbling in a journal, instead of working on those twenty stories?

2. Creative Energy Is Precious

Simple question: Would I rather spend my creative energy in a journal that probably will be worth reading to no one but myself—or working on a novel that will be read by many? I feel a deep need to use my creativity responsibly, and frittering it away in a journal isn’t going to get that next novel written and published.

3. Writers Don’t Practice Writing; They Write

You often hear journaling referred to as “practice writing.” But writers either write, or they don’t. “Practice” is what happens during the first (and second and third) drafts. My aunt, a horse trainer, coached me in equestrian maneuvers by saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” The same goes for writing: put your practice to work where perfection counts.

4. Procrastination Poses Under Many Guises

Writing is scary business. Those first few moments when I sit down to start my day’s work are inevitably panic-ridden. My brain starts scrambling for any excuse it can find to delay the moment a little longer. File my nails? Sort my highlighters? Deworm the cat? Writing exercises can easily fall into the same category. It’s much easier to scribble away on exercises that don’t matter, rather than buckling down and working on that tough scene opener. The dangerous thing about procrastination is that once you start down that slippery slope, it’s a hard habit to break.

I’m certainly not opposed to using journals to break through blocks and work out story problems. I do that every day when I scribble out scene ideas in a notebook before actually writing the scene. And writing prompts absolutely have their worth. Ideas are free for the taking everywhere we look, and writing prompts are often a handy source. But I argue that keeping a writing-exercise journal is an ineffective, inefficient, and occasionally even detrimental habit.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Do you find writing exercises helpful–or not? Why? Tell me in the comments!

4 Reasons I Quit Writing Exercises

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. It is also easier for me to make it right the first time than to practice. I’ve always tried to make the first (rough?) draft of any school paper worthy to be turned in and then had to mess it up to make the paper look like it had been improved.

  2. Ah, now, a writer after my own heart! That’s my goal too. Makes for a much easier second draft, doesn’t it?

  3. This is one of the reasons I never started journaling. Why waste time writing in a journal when I could write a story?

    Number four is particularly true. I’ve seen writers pop on and start talking about making the costumes (their phrase) their characters wear–looks productive on first thought. But no actual writing is taking place!

  4. I’ll admit I take a guilty pleasure in costuming my characters, but it’s something I play around with only in my spare time. If it happens during my WRITING TIME, I’m going to be in serious trouble with myself the next day!

  5. I have to agree with you on your points of not using writing exercises. Yes, scribble a bit if it gets the rest of you going, but get on that all important NOVEL!! I keep journals that are letters to my children…they have even suffered in the past year since I’ve pursued writing as an actual career. I keep them, but they aren’t as regularly written in as they used to be. I also feel like my blog posts are my “creative writing exercises” and are enough of a guilty pleasure.

  6. Hah. Interesting, indeed! I’ve never done them because I don’t think writing can be trained. However, I do think anyone can write if they want to! I just get creative urges and have to get it out on paper before I implode…

    …I’ve also discovered that if I tell people about the ideas of where a story or character is going then I instantly lose the push to carry on writing it, madness!

  7. @Kristi: I agree. There’s a time and a place for journals – but that time and place is not as a replacement for your real work.

    @Dan: I have to disagree with you there. I think writing absolutely is something that can be learned, although inborn talent is always a factor. But I’m like you when it comes to talking about my work. Until it’s *finished*, I don’t want to talk about it to anyone!

  8. I’m glad someone else feels this way. I was beginning to think I was the only one who considered writing excercises a complete waste of time.

  9. Amen, Amen, and Amen! I have always disliked writing excersises. But I have to say, I would MUCH rather do them than de-worm the cat! lol Too funny!

  10. @Tamera: Nope, definitely not alone!

    @Sherrinda: You may have a point there about the cat! :p

  11. I’ve never had the urge to keep a writing journal. When I have the time to sit down and write, I want to work on my novel, not a quick writing exercise.

  12. Exactly. Writing time is hard enough to come by as it is. Why waste it?

  13. I really like your thoughts on this topic… very much like the advice I would have received from my father, were he still alive. He was a straight forward, no nonsense, buckle down type. I miss that and often it’s what my brick head needs!!
    One thing… deworm the cat? hahahaha 🙂

  14. Opinionated bullheadedness I have plenty of. But I do try to temper it with the realization that my opinions are just that: my opinions. Glad you found them helpful this week! 🙂

  15. Oh thank God! I’ve felt a fair amount of guilt for not keeping a writing journal. I considered blogging between my daily writing sessions a far enough stretch from the real work–my two WIP’s.

    However, I have found that the occasional short story and even poetry, are at times a needed distraction–Acting as a moderator between the character’s voices and my last shred of sanity.

  16. Don’t surrender that last shred, whatever you do! 😉 When burnout’s looming, then I say, by all means, do whatever you have to to stave it off.

  17. I love the feeling of a pen gliding across a page. I love leather-bound journals. The ones I own have a few notes here and there, but for the most part when I write, I write. Unfortunately, it’s just easier to work on my laptop. As for exercies, I’ve never found them helpful for me, but I have friends who have used them successfully.

  18. There is a special quality about writing by hand, isn’t there? Deciphering my handwriting is a colossal task unto itself, but I do enjoy writing by hand. I do all of my outlining and other preliminary work that way, but I have to admit I’m too cheap to fork over the money for leather-bound journals…

  19. I’m not a fan of writing exercises. I do apply revision techniques to mss as a way to explore new territory. But all of the writing is related to the WIP, usually experimenting with new scenes or setting details, etc.

    When I was teaching I tried to have all the writing my students did be part of their WIPs.

  20. yeah, absolutely! Like others on here, I have to say I really agree with your blog post. Unfortunately, writing exercises, (sadly, like many writing groups as well), can be used as an excuse *not* to write as much as a way to hone your craft. Personally, I can’t seem to make myself spend time writing on something I don’t care about, and nothing bores me more than journaling, or writing about myself. I just don’t care enough about my own process to want to write about it. It’s boring to me, and feels like a chore…in addiiton to eating time, as you said.

    Absolutely disagree with the guy who said writing can’t be trained, however. I believe it is always trained, no matter how talented the person is…but it is trained by *writing* something, and working through the problems (structure, flow, characters, etc.) that arise during the process of getting that story across. From my perspective, that’s why it’s always better to be working on something I’m so entranced by that I won’t give up until I’ve got it right. I’ve never had that come from a writing exercise.

    But yes, what’s true for me obviously isn’t true for everyone. Some people probably get a great deal from them, or they likely wouldn’t have withstood the test of time. And I imagine they could be used tactically, to get through a particular problem with a story, if you’re stuck/blocked, etc.

  21. @Paul: Exercises that are helpful to the WIP are another matter altogether.

    @Syrimne: I agree. There are enough excuses not write without going looking for them.

  22. I sooooooo AGREE!!! Oh yeah, preach it Katie. I HATE writing exercises. You are either writing or you are not writing. There is no practice. You write you way to being a better writer. The only place I write that is outside my WIP is my journal to GOD. And I know that is read by an auidence I REALLY care most about. The audience of ONE. HIM. But other than blogging (which I find has inspired a great many things in my writing), I am actually writing my WIP.

  23. Oh, I keep a journal for myself. But that isn’t a writing exercise in any sense. As you say, that’s personal.

  24. Journalers (is that a word?) write journals. Novelists write novels.

    While I don’t keep a journal and I don’t do writing exercises, I do see a value in writing prompts. With some writing exercises, there’s no point to the writing except to produce a collection of (hopefully) beautiful phrases and sentences strung together.

    But a writing prompt is a different animal, so to speak. One must produce an actual story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

    After I’ve been editing a novel and I’m ready to start writing another, writing a series of prompt stories helps me break free of the “edit mentality” and propels me headlong into storytelling mode.

  25. To address the topic, I think it depends on what type of writing exercises you do. There are some which are fiction-based, which I think is no different to novel-writing.

    I find journal-writing (writing about my own experiences) has been incredibly beneficial to me. I actually do think it improves my writing, in terms of sentence structure, rhythm and grammar. It allows me to perfect the skills I need to write my novel the best that I can. Journal-writing is also great when you’re blocked with writing your novel.

    There are a lot of writers who write with the goal of getting published, but there are also a fair few who write purely because they simply love doing it. To me, the latter is what makes a true writer, and I think to say otherwise (e.g one is only a writer if they write fiction novels) is just in all honestly, quite offensive.

  26. @Tommie: I definitely don’t discount writing prompts, although I’ve never had very good luck with them myself. The stories I produce from prompts are inevitably stilted. But sometimes a prompt will stick in my brain over a length of time and grow into something more organic and personal.

    @Cindy: My intention was absolutely not to be offensive. I agree with you 100% that the desire or the fact of being published has nothing to do with someone being a “writer.” I stand by what I said: A writer writes. *What* he writes has no effect on his being a writer. I’m not discounting journalers in any way, just pointing that, in my own experience, writing exercises aren’t the most effective way to get a story written.

  27. Writing exercises are useful for me because otherwise I’d never write a short story. And short stories are good for entering in contests, experimenting with new styles, and leading on to longer fiction. But I couldn’t imagine doing an exercise a day and not feeling wiped out.

  28. If exercises work for you and get you to produce stories you can use that you wouldn’t otherwise have written, that’s fantastic! Definitely keep it up.

  29. I keep a writing journal, but I’m always a little nervous. What if I die and someone reads it? Will they get a good laugh at my expense? 😀

  30. Katie, you’ve landed on one of my favorite productivity tweaks, simply avoiding some journeyman-level helps in favor of actual writing.

    One of the best things I learned about NaNoWriMo is that, having completed it once, I never need to do it again. The point has been made, the lesson learned. This tip strikes me the same way.

  31. Heehee. That is always a danger. Oh well, if I’m dead and buried, I guess the least I can do is give someone a chuckle!

  32. @Phy: I’m a big fan of NaNo, and its productivity push for writers. But it’s never something I’ll do, simply because procrastination isn’t something I struggle with, and I feel the grand push toward a worc count would commit more harm than good to my writing.

  33. I’ve kept journals most of my life. But I’m finding less time to write in them now because of the first reason you gave… time is precious!
    I must say, your list is definitely on point!

  34. There are different types of journals kept for different reasons – and some of those reasons are definitely worth the time. But, in my experience, writing exercises aren’t one of them.

  35. Journaling never worked for me. I did it once or twice in my twenties and got bored with it. But blogging, I love and now seem to be writing everyday. Because my blog is generally about my life post stroke, it’s an on-line journal.

    What are your feelings about that?

  36. Blogging – and social media in general – can certainly be a time waster. But I don’t class it in the same category as writing exercises. Catharsis, business outreach, fanbase updating – all that stuff is worthwhile.

  37. I also do not do writing exercises. I also do not write everyday. Sometimes I write upwards of 5 pieces at one time, other times I just do not feel like writing. And, surprise!!! I usually do not start with a beginning but a middle or an end and work my way backwards or middlewards as the case may be. I usually write a piece and then let it simmer for a bit, come back to it, revise, and even delete starting all over. I can never tell what will prompt me to write. That is why I just go with the flow instead of forcing it.

  38. The thing that we so often miss about writing is that it doesn’t have any rules. Guidelines, yes. Choices that are wiser than others, definitely. But, in the end, the only thing that counts is finding the groove that works for each of us.

  39. Quite possibly it’s a fluke that writing exercises became such a fad. Twenty-five years ago Natalie Goldberg Wrote Down the Bones touting the value of Writing Practice. Her book has become a cult classic (I say that with more than a little awe and envy). How could Writing Practice not be good if it sold so many millions of books?

    If Natalie wasn’t enough, Julia Cameron hit the shelves seven years later with her Way: Morning Pages. Same song, second verse. Who can argue with success?

    And now, it seems that many have been noticing the state of the Emperor’s Wardrobe. Perhaps the world has gotten busier? Or perhaps … it’s all been a great big joke and the Emperor really has been bolting about in the buff.

    I admit it. I don’t do Writing Practice either, though I do occasionally benefit from a bout of Free Writing to discover what I think about something, and I find journaling in the morning immensely valuable in clarifying my thoughts prior to writing memoir.

  40. I admit I haven’t read either Goldberg’s or Cameron’s books, but I think we have to be careful in taking up a practice just because some famous, successful author does it. Writing is as subjective in its process as it is in its reception. We all have our own little quirks and our unique methods. What works for one successful writer can be the pits for another. I’ve no doubt writing practice is *the* thing for some writers. But not this one.

  41. I started to write a comment on this particular subject, but it ended up turning into a blog post: http://thehappyamateur.blogspot.com/2009/12/real-writing-or-wasting-time.html

    Your blog is so enjoyable to read through. It’s a goldmine for an unpublished/amateur writer like myself. Thank you!

    P.S. I see you are reading GKC’s “Heretics”. I just started reading it a few weeks ago. It’s been on my “To Read” list too long, so I thought I’d tackle it (no great chore, since I love G.K. Chesterton).

  42. Well, I’m mightily pleased that you’re enjoy the blog! I’m about halfway through Heretics. It’s my first foray into Chesterton, and it’s not quite what I expected, but very enjoyable.

  43. I must say each week I wonder how you’ll break the mold and tell us how “not” to do what most people would say is the run of the mill for writing. It’s nice to get a breath of fresh air from you every week.

  44. I do like thinking outside the box! I’m glad you think it’s a breath of fresh air.

  45. I agree–I practice writing when I write, and I hope to write well because people are going to read it! No journals for me.

  46. Writing is a constant progression. None of us write as well as we’d like to. But we’re always writing a little better than we did before.

  47. I write writing exercises and sometimes I keep a journal (not about writing) but that is my writing exercise. Most of all it gives me some writing discipline. I write everyday and in sticking with it I am being productive even if all I do have to show for it is a blog with writing exercises. Sometimes there are a lot of things that make us procrastinate, or not write at all. Whatever is going on with me I do have my daily writing that I do discipline myself to keep going with. I feel like I’m doing something that matters and keeping my brain and creativity in gear.

  48. I’m all for keeping the ol’ creative brain oiled and in shape. And I believe very strongly in making it a point to write every single day. But I also think it’s important to write things that matter. I made my personal choice to abandon writing exercises simply because I knew exercising wasn’t going to get my novel written.

  49. For exactly the reasons you stated, I don’t do writing prompts or any other types of writing exercises. Thanks for making me feel more okay with it! 🙂

  50. Always nice to have a little affirmation when you’re bucking the system, isn’t it? 😉

  51. I don’t really believe that lack of time is a valid excuse… for instance you can lower the number of minutes you’re spending on this… even down to just say writing a journal entry for 2 minutes or one paragraph max. Granted you wont be getting alot done, but it just may be enough to prime the pump and get the stale water out. OTOH, if the exercises arent helping you anyways, or are detrimental, yeah they got to go… BTW, analysing your writing style in this post, it sounds to me like you’re trying to rationalise it, or you’re feeling guilty about it. If the exercises are really not helping you write or are detrimental, then no other reasoning need be mentioned.

    Love, Happiness, and Respect 🙂

    Dan K

  52. If writing exercises help you, then I agree, by all means make time for them. But, as you said, for me, the time, no matter how small, simply wasn’t worth it. My goal in rationalizing is to help others look at things clearly and figure out the methods that work best for them.

  53. Glad to see I’m not the only one who hates journal exercises! I think the only way they’d be useful is if you tailored them to your novel, especially if it was a scene you’re planning for later, or a free write to get into your characters’ heads or something. But even that’s a bit of a stretch.

  54. I have often considered journaling “experimental” scenes, usually backstory, to help me figure out narration and voice for a new novel. But I’ve just never quite been able to summon the motivation. I guess I’d just rather be writing the book itself!

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  56. Glad it was something you can use!

  57. Your thoughts in this article nail how I have felt about writing exercises. I love to read books and read articles (like many of yours) on how to write better, but I exercise what I’ve learned in the trenches of my books. It just makes sense to me….

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      To some extent (for me anyway) this is a time conservation thing. If I only have so much time in a day to write, I want to spend it on the writing that counts.

  58. Leja Siv Harju says

    Does this include writing prompts that would be related to the genre and/or themes of your story?

    For example, I’m writing a very “involved” and complex fantasy novel, and all too often – due in part to being the poster child for ADHD, I’m certain – I find myself struggling to kick off, or even come up with, strong scenes. And by strong, I don’t just mean packed with cool-but-functionally-useless fight scenes or “filler” content, like we see in movies *cough* Star Wars prequels *cough*; I’m thinking of those in which we SEE more about the characters through their actions and reactions).

    I’ve found that, sometimes, writing exercises help me to better understand the emotional and psychological aspects of my characters by placing them in situations that they might not have been in… or MIGHT get into, yet I haven’t gotten far enough ahead to see how they come alive in that given situation. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who TELLS too much, without SHOWING. Backstory revelation is soooo difficult for me, especially since I took a page out of my favorite author Robert Jordan’s book and decided to include a prequel detailing the events leading up to my protagonist’s birth, and giving my readers their first full-frontal view of the enemy, as well as the crime he commits (killing my heroine’s birth mother to usurp the throne which will rightfully be hers) that will incite their showdown.

    I tried pantsing for years… and as I aged and reviewed my work, I realized that, while it was great that I had let myself “have at it” with little interference from my now acerbic inner critic, I was breaking a lot of my world’s own “rules” or forgetting where or what each character was specifically doing or supposed to do – in essence, while I had a great flow going, I discovered few nuggets in my sea of verbal diarrhea. Apologies for that mental image, but that’s the best way I could think of to describe it. Now I’m so self-critical that I find it hard to actually WRITE. ANYTHING.

    I bought your book on structure, though, as well as the one on outlining, and know now that if I EVER hope to finish and publish this damned thing that I’ve got to have a better plan.

    Didn’t mean to ramble, just wanted to say that from personal experience CERTAIN writing exercises have actually helped kick my ass back into thinking mode – and, better yet, WRITING mode. Sometimes it’s kinda cool to journal “in character”, too, because I’ve found it helps me form dialogue which doesn’t come off as forced or cheesy. For example, I’ll journal about a certain character’s feelings and thoughts following a significant plot point (ex: a betrayal, a near-death experience, losing a loved one) because it helps me navigate the internal worlds of my important characters better and also provides me with other cool ideas if I’m lucky.

    I have a different question, aside from this matter – if I’m struggling to come up with a more solid idea of what’s going to happen in my story, how many characters to include, and some of the more significant “meat” of my story, which of your books should I read first? “Structuring” or “Outlining”? I have several ideas of how to run with my overall concept but I’m having trouble with sequencing and knowing what to keep or throw out…

    Thank you for this site and for all your hard work.

    • Leja Siv Harju says

      ARGH – in that line about Jordan, I meant “prologue”, not “prequel”.

      *facepalm*

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      If there’s a point to any exercise, in the sense that it directly influences an active work-in-progress, then I definitely think it can be helpful. In essence, I suppose you could say my entire outlining method is an exercise, since it’s all about exploring rabbit trails and trying to figure out backstory. So in that respect, yes, exercise away!

      If you were to read only one of my books, I would say read Structuring, since it’s really the one that presents the do-or-die principles of storytelling. But since you’re planning to read both, I suggest starting with Outlining. It presents the more basic, foundational ideas of how to create an outline, while Structuring then talks about how to craft a story to fill that outline.

  59. The thing I agreed most is that to me, it just leads toward procrastination. Writing is a nasty business. Even if there is a burning need in you to sit and work out your creative juices, there is almost always equally burning desire to stop. To flee from that lifestyle, which requires too much self discipline, tension and work.
    So better use you creative high times correctly, rather than writing a writing journal.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s true. For all that we’re compelled to write, we’re also insanely resisting the compulsion.

  60. Cathy Pelham says

    Writing exercises helped me in a few ways, but not while journaling. I am a member of a mini-writing group wherein we write 15 minutes from a prompt, read our results and comment on the entries. There is real joy in this type of writing, and it points out that a starting idea can be articulated in wildly different ways. This is how I found my voice and the assurance needed to let go of a piece that isn’t working. I use another exercise from Lynda Barry when stuck in a scene. It’s an expanding 360-degree sensory review from a character’s perspective, and it makes the setting come alive in a show-don’t-tell manner. But journaling, Nah.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s interesting, because I quickly get frustrated with the pointlessness (for me) of “inspiration” writing like that, but I find journaling (in which I work through plot problems–so, basically, it’s an extension of outlining) very useful.

  61. Angela Mayfair says

    I find that writing exercises can be useful for me. When I’m stuck on a scene I will often reach for, “Interview your characters 5 years after this scene happened” in order to get un-stuck writing it.

    I’ve noticed that they rarely tell me about the events as a series of actions when I do this. The answer nearly always concentrates on the emotional reaction and beliefs of the character.

    The other time is when I’m trying to figure out how to change the mood and tone – i pull up a blank document and re-write a scene that has everything a scene ought to have but doesn’t feel right, and re write it so the POV character is ecstatic, or furious, or despairing. It’ll give me an idea of how to change the mood of the scene and where the mood changes, and how the mood changes.

    but sit down and write a writing exercise that has nothing to do with my current work, and isn’t designed to become a work? Why would I do that?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      To me, these aren’t even “writing exercises” so much as “get-my-brain-unstuck-on-this-plot-problem” tools. As such, they get two big thumbs up from me!

  62. Mary Ellen Latela says

    Time! Time is too precious. I have deliberately cut activities which take away from my top priority – writing. (Not counting family connections, laundry, paying bills.)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      That’s ultimately what it comes down to for me as well. I’m always trying to streamline my schedule. So much to do in a day, so little time to do it!

  63. As for me, I don’t do writing exercises. I may write a little if I’m feeling inspired but it’s not really about the exercises. Journaling….nope. I just don’t and I can’t make myself do it though so many people have told me I should. It’s just not really in me.

    Writing prompts, I agree, are a different story especially for short story writers. I generally don’t need them as my brain is pretty full already.

    Thanks Katie for the article. You rule.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yeah, story prompts are just plain dangerous for me! The last thing I need is *more* ideas to juggle. :p

  64. This is perfectly timely for me. I have been doing ‘morning pages’ for a couple of years now and wondering if they have been doing me any bit of good. I have to admit that the best use they have is for organization which isn’t the intention. I just gave them up a few weeks ago and now feel much less guilt attached to the decision.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think morning pages are super great–as long they’re something you can actually use. I switched my writing time to first thing in the morning this summer, and it’s made a huge amount of difference. I wouldn’t want to waste that time on writing that didn’t actually matter.

  65. I’m so glad I saw this! Now I don’t feel like a dolt or lazy for not doing any prompts exercise.
    Thank you!

  66. I couldn’t agree with you more. “Practice writing” is too much work. It’s difficult enough to write what we do write, who wants to practice what we do when it doesn’t make anything any easier. I love writing a rough draft then re-write it until it’s right as we can make it. That’s enough practice for anyone!

  67. I agree. I tried to get into writing exercises and always felt they were a waste of time. And I also agree, they CAN be beneficial, but they never really added anything for me. I’d just as soon work on my current novel project.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      They’re kind of one of those “horses for courses” things. They work wonderfully for some people and not for others.

  68. Trevor Veale says

    Just to be a contrarian, I don’t think the early journalings you undertook and now consider a waste of time are without value. After your eighty or more years and twenty or more stories are done, those juvenile scribblings will be gold to your publisher. In addition to the canon of your works, the Collected Letters, Essays (Emails, Blogs?) and Occasional Writings of K M Weiland will be released to the immense delight of your many readers and fans. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Oh, I definitely don’t consider them a waste. Nothing is ever wasted! They served their purpose in their place. I just don’t find them a good use of time any longer. But I am definitely stealing the title The Occasional Writings of K.M. Weiland for future use!

  69. So true! I have never liked any of that. I don’t even enjoy trying to write short stories. I am here to write novels, so I practice writing novels.

    Loved the comment: Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. A teacher of mine used to always say that to me and it’s stuck with me ever since.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Smart. I wrote hundreds of short stories when I was starting up–and I definitely learned a lot from them about writing in general. But at the end of the day writing short stories doesn’t teach you how to write a novel. So if novels are where your focus is, then they’re exactly what you need to be writing.

  70. I have been rather regularly beating myself up over not blogging enough, not doing my Morning Pages, letting one of my Facebook Pages sit and rot. No more! By my calculation (and some decent longevity genes), I likely have time to write 15-22 novels before I leave this realm. Whether I do so is pretty much within my control (at least at this point). Thanks for putting it into perspective, K.M.! I’m off to write another chapter… 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      You go! It’s always more worthwhile to beat yourself up for not writing your book than not writing an exercise. 😉

Trackbacks

  1. […] The opposing view is that journaling is a waste of time, a self-absorbed activity that keeps you from doing more productive writing. Writer Cameron Chapman thinks journaling is just another way of procrastinating, and we all know that procrastination is a writer’s worst enemy. Unfortunately, he removed his article about this from his blog, so I can’t link you to it. K. M. Weiland has a similar opinion. Her article is here. […]

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