If you could do just one exercise a day in order to improve your writing skills, what would it be?
That was the question I wanted to answer for our final journal worksheet this year. After all, practice and improvement are the reason we keep writing journals, right?
The most exciting answer for me was to work with raw materials: words – to explore the relationships between similar or disparate words, to learn new terms, to experiment with definitions and to discover how they behave in a sentence. I don’t believe I could ever get tired of that!
Your answer may vary. Perhaps you would prefer to:
- Write about your best day.
- Fill a blank page.
- Do some freewriting.
- Draw parallels.
- Or imitate your favourite author.
But if you’re interested in exploring words, here is how you might use this worksheet…
Daily Writing Exercise
- Pick a theme. This can be any word or idea you want to “unpack”.
- Write 4 words in the ladder that relate to this theme. Challenge yourself to learn new words or new meanings for old words.
- Use the words in a sentence (or two) in such a way that you show…
- One or more denotations of the words.
- One or more connotations of the words.
- How the words help to define each other by their difference or similarity.
- How the words relate to each other within a certain context.
- A new meaning, or form of a word.
- Practice by writing an improved sentence when you return to the exercise the next day. Write another sentence to further elucidate the words, or have fun by…
- Changing the point of view,
- Turning the sentence into its negative,
- Or transposing it in time or space.
- THEME: Quince
- WORDS: Yellow, pome, chimera, floccose.
- SENTENCE 1: The fruit of the chimera – a cross between a mythical apple, the many-pomed Hydra, and her own fancy – were Naples yellow, floccose like suede, and to the touch they felt like the head of a small animal warmed by the sun.
- SENTENCE 2: Every spring, as my petals fell away, I began to puff up my sun-coloured pomes, each a little head with its own ideas, its own chimerical notions of life formed under a floccose dome far from the earth.
More fun ideas!
- Don’t mention the theme word in the sentences. Rely on your descriptive skills to help the reader figure it out. If you want to test this on your(future)self, trim away the strip where you’ve written the themes and tuck it in the back of your journal to check your answers.
- Use the rungs of the ladder and the theme sections to explore hierarchies or orders. For example, I could put my quince words in order of how important they are to the theme, or in the order in which they’re noticed by an observer. This can help uncover inherent beliefs, prior knowledge and assumptions.
- Use it to practice T.S. Eliot’s theory of the objective-correlative by choosing an emotion for the theme and finding “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion.”
- Fit the sentence into the world of your current work-in-progress. You might make it a thought or utterance, or the description of a setting.
- Find a sentence or passage in a book you’re reading, pick out the words pertaining to a particular theme, and write your own sentence using these words.
I hope you find these exercises helpful. Don’t forget to check the archive for more worksheets. There are now over 150 of them…!