Writing Through It

Hey, friends. It’s a scary time for everyone, and most writers we know are feeling pretty scattered and distracted, even if they do have plenty of writing time all of a sudden. As for the folks juggling caring responsibilities and work: HEROES, the lot of you.

Fiction can be a comfort and an escape, so we hope some of you are finding that writing helps. But if you are feeling a bit wobbly, pushing towards a deadline or trying to make progress with an existing project can be especially hard.

Here are three free-wheeling exercises that should be easy, fun and just might lead to some new writing. No pressure, be kind to yourself.

The Fan

This is a great exercise to spark ideas … it’s more about the books you love, than the book you want to write.

Grab a piece of paper or open a new document, and just scribble down the names of your favourite books on the left-hand side of the page. On the right-hand side, write WHY? – and add anything you like into that list.

Why do you love a particular book? Is it the setting, the characters, is it funny or deeply sad, or does it make you feel a particular way? Is it written in the first person or the third? Maybe there are several narrators? Jot down anything you notice.

Once you’re done, you might see some overlap: a particular historical setting, or type of protagonist. And maybe that’s something you want to try in your own writing. Take one of the points on your right-hand list and use it to spark a new story.

The Bookbuyer

Imagine walking into a bookshop and picking up THE BOOK – a book you know you’ll love (not the book you plan to write, just a book you know you’d love to read. Make it extra ambitious, the kind of thing you’d never try to write yourself).

  • Write the blurb for that book.
  • Write down some imaginary praise from critics.
  • Make a cup of tea and come back to the blurb. Can that blurb be your book? Can you start writing the book you’ve always longed to read? (Yes. You can.)

The Early Bird

Morning pages are a tried-and-tested technique for just getting words down on the page – words that might look like nonsense, but which will give you starting points for further writing.

  • Set up your desk or kitchen table the night before, with your laptop or notebook ready to go.
  • As soon as you wake up, stumble out of bed. Do not stop to make coffee or wash your face.
  • Get to your table and write: you might have fragments of dreams, things that are worrying you, vague ideas for what the day holds … just write it down.
  • Then put it away and make coffee. After a week, see what’s in those morning pages. There just might be the germ of a brilliant book hiding in there…

The Lighthouse is here to help you

Whether you have a brand new idea, or have been fiddling with a text for years … we’re here to help.

About Sarah Stewart

Sarah Stewart is a Director at Lighthouse Literary. She was previously Fiction Editor at Scholastic Children's Books and a Senior Editor at Floris Books, and she writes the Elspeth Hart series, published by Stripes.