Flexing Novel-Writing Muscles

Toned for SwimmingBe A Novelist

I was reading an article in our local small town newspaper recently about a high school student who was making significant wins in swimming competition.  The article explained that this young lady swims two hours every day at her high school pool.  In addition, she travels twenty miles two days a week to where her coach is located for more intense, concentrated training.

It’s obvious this young student’s mind and body are toned and honed for swimming.  She probably dreams about swimming.

Ways to Tone Writing Muscles

Be A NovelistAs novelists, we too should be constantly looking for ways to flex and tone our writing muscles.  This might include our powers of concentration, our skills for keen observation, our wild flights of imagination, and so on.

One of the ways to do that is to set a goal of jotting down observations on a regular and consistent basis.  (You do have an idea notebook, right? Either paper or computer – which one is irrelevant.) Perhaps you could set a goal of one observation a day for two weeks.  That would be a great start.

Outside My Window

As I am writing this blog, it is the mere beginning of spring. (My favorite season, by the way.)  In the backyard outside my home-office windows are large shade trees.  The tree nearest the window is showing tiny slips of green leaves that are bravely emerging.  Thoughts of spring create in me dreamy, nostalgic emotions.

I grew up in eastern Kansas where large shade trees were part of my everyday life.  Trees Be A Novelistto me are a symbol of strength, stamina, and consistency. There was a wooded area behind our home which was located at the edge of our small town. I spent a good deal of time in those woods in all seasons. I vividly recall the sights and aromas of spring in that place.

Now stop and imagine with me.  What if spring were the time of year when a loved one had died? Or if it were the time of year when love had been betrayed in years past? Now what emotions might surface?

What Emotions are Stirred

See where I’m going? See what I’m doing? When you are actively observing, don’t jot down only what you see, but also add what you feel.  What emotions are stirred and brought into play?

Each one of your characters will have his and her own set of emotions which causes a certain reaction either in words or actions.  As you observe, be sure to make a connection with an emotion (or emotions).

This is just one exercise in which you can flex and tone up your novel writing muscles. Once you begin, you will come up with many others.

Describing Scenes

In the early years of my writing career, I had a writer friend who started every writing day by taking a scenic calendar (pre-computer days) and laying it on her desk.  From there she proceeded to write out a description of the scene.  That habit, she insisted, was what set her creative gears into motion.

If I were to jump in the swimming pool and swim alongside the young lady mentioned above, it would instantly be apparent who had been practicing and training and who had not.

When you jump into your novel, you will quickly find out what kind of shape your writing muscles are in.

What are some of the writer-muscle-toning exercises you incorporate on a regular basis?

What are some of the writer-muscle-toning exercises you might want to incorporate in the future?


I trust the teaching and instruction given in this blog post was helpful in your goal to be a novelistFor more in-depth writer’s workshops, check out the wide variety offered at the Be A Novelist Website.


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3 thoughts on “Flexing Novel-Writing Muscles

  1. Dennis Langley

    As always, excellent post.

    I enjoy freewriting. I pick a topic or question I want a character to answer and write as fast as I can without really thinking for 15 minutes. When I look at the finished piece, I see a lot of junk with one or two gems. The interesting part is that the more I freewrite, the more gems appear in each piece. I am a believer. I believe that the more I write, the better writer I will be.


  2. ruth ann hixson

    Norma, excellent! I constantly flex my mental “muscles.” I am a people watcher. Every good writer is. I also enjoy looking over the scenery wherever I happen to be. You have written about the mental muscles of the writer. I shall mention the physical. We all spend a lot of time sitting at a keyboard or whatever method we use to write. We need to get off our bumps and do a little exercise each day. Walking is a good way to flex our physical and mental muscles at the same time.


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