Thursday, April 16, 2009


This past week I've been stricken with writer's drought. The worst part is that I have a deadline coming up in less than twenty-four hours and I'm still about 3000 words from where I want to be. Earlier today I thought things were completely hopeless, but I finally found something to shake me out of the barren wasteland. I call it Inventory and it's a tool I developed by combining exercises from various different books or teachers. The purpose of this exercise is to help you pinpoint what topic(s) motivate you and what your writing is about at its very core. Since this exercise was so useful for me today, I thought I'd post it here.


Part A: Influences to Your Writing
  1. List 5 favorite movies.
  2. List 5 favorite books.
  3. What's your favorite book from your childhood?
  4. What's you're favorite fairytale?
  5. List 5 favorite characters (from books, movies, TV, etc.)
  6. Look at your answers for 1-5. What do they have in common?

Part B: Looking Within
  1. List 3 topics you think about a lot / are passionate about.
  2. List 3 topics you know a lot about.
  3. List 3 topics you wish you knew more about.
  4. Look at your answers for 7-9 and circle any topics that come up in your writing.
  5. Looking at your writing as a whole, what does it all have in common?

Part C: Staying Focused

Look over all your answers to Parts A&B* and try to sum them up in one word. Write this word on a post-it and put it where you'll see it often. This can help you stay focused on what's really at the core of your writing.
*Note: a variant on this one is to look at your current writing project and try to sum it up in one word.

Part D: Moving Ahead
  1. List 3 topics or ideas of things you would like to write about (or incorporate into your current writing).
  2. List 3 reasons why you're resisting writing on one or more of these topics.
  3. What's the first *small* step you can take towards breaking down this resistance? Do that step today.

Things to keep in mind:
  • You don't need to do all the parts every time, just the parts that are relevant to you in that moment.
  • You can do this exercise multiple times. You might find your answers are a little different each time. That's part of the fun.
  • Don't let yourself get bogged down answering these questions, just write what comes to mind first.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you come up with these exercises! And, you shouldn't worry too much about the quantity of words/pages that you submit. All that matters is that you're happy with what you're writing!