3 Writing Exercises for Non-Writers

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How’s everyone doing? Did you have a relaxing Mother’s Day weekend? We can’t say we ever expected May to look this way, but we’re maintaining a positive outlook. Our stores in several states are NOW OPEN in accordance with government guidance, and over the last couple of months we’ve been busy planning (and quickly implementing!) new ways to serve you—like Virtual Styling and Store Pickup. Stay tuned for more! 😉

Still, our current situation is an emotional one in many ways. Our friend and New York Times bestselling author Shauna Niequist recently shared a few writing exercises with us that we wanted to pass on to you. Writing is a great way to check in with ourselves and our emotions, and if you’re anything like us, you have a lot of emotions right now! Sitting down with a pen and paper has proven cathartic—a great way to start or end the day when you have five minutes for yourself. ❤️Let us know if you try any of these exercises by leaving a comment below, and have a great week!

Exercise 1: Oil & Vinegar Free Write

This is a good one for when you’re feeling angry/overwhelmed/tangled up in negative emotion. 

Picture an old-school salad dressing cruet in an Italian restaurant—thin red wine vinegar floating on top of thick greenish olive oil.  

Set a timer for five minutes and just start pouring out the vinegar—whatever’s on top … confusion or sadness or your grocery list or something that annoyed you that you can’t get out of your head.  

Keep going, keep going. Keep going.

And then you’ll get to the oil, the richer, more grounded, deeper thoughts and feelings. 

I do this one almost every day, and sometimes more often just to clear out the anxious buzzing thoughts. 

Exercise 2: Senses

Set the timer on your phone for five minutes. 

Write longhand—you know, like an old-fashioned person, with pen and paper.  

Focus on the five senses: smell, touch, taste, see, hear. Write a scribbly, messy, tumbling-out few sentences about each sense, and then go on to the next one. How does today smell? What are the sounds you remember from the last few days? What are the textures that your fingers have been touching?  

This exercise invites us to be noticers, and the first step in all creative work is noticing. And even if you don’t want to do creative work, being a noticer helps us engage more deeply in our own lives, our own experiences, our own memories.  

If you do this exercise a couple days in a row, you’ll find that throughout the day you’re more away of your senses—a smell! A texture! A sound you wouldn’t have otherwise paid attention to. 

Exercise 3: Prompts

Again, set the timer on your phone for five minutes.  

Choose one of these prompts to start your writing: 

The phone rang and when I picked it up …
A letter came in the mail and …
That song started playing and …
She/he handed me the key and … 

Start writing either about a real-life experience or start writing a fiction story and see where it goes. Creativity begets creativity begets creativity, so when you start to play with words and stories and language and images, you’ll find that you have more ideas in your work world and with your family and as you approach all of life.

Thank you, Shauna! Time to get writing!

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