1) Freewrite. I know, I know. Duh. This is every writing teacher's first line of defense-advice for when you're stumped. Thing is, when my brain feels like a black hole, even freewriting seems an exhausting task. I feel pressured to jot down emotions or random but meaningful observations, even though I know I'm supposed to be writing whatever crap is in my head. Which usually, at that point, is me berating myself for not giving myself a break when it comes to freewriting. What I've discovered is that if I simply look around and write what I see, it will lead to something. Example: That wall is white. I need to clean off my sewing table. My bookcase is stuffed with books two-thick. Just like it was when I was twelve and the nails began to pull out under the strain. Which is why I decided to be Tween DIY Extraordinarie and grabbed my dad's drill and screw that thing back together again . . .
And suddenly that white wall has morphed into a story. So try starting your freewrite with the most mundane observations and go from there.
2) Write a letter. Write it to yourself, to a friend or family member, to a character in your novel. Pick a voice for the letter; it can be your own, but this is also a good opportunity to experiment with accents, regional dialects and futuristic swear words. The subject and "author" of the letter can be anything you choose, from real events from your day to elaborate imaginings, from writing as a contemporary teen to writing as a farm animal with complaints about every other animal on the farm (as in one recent letter I wrote.)
3) Write an interview. Take on a persona--or keep your own--and imagine you're being interviewed by a magazine writer. Choose your favorite magazine, or one that fits your new character, such as Rolling Stone, Cosmo or Time. Draft the questions, then answer them true to character.
4) Get off your butt. Exercising--the physical kind--releases endorphins that happify your brain and give you extra energy. A happy brain is a less-stressed brain is a brain with more free room to fill with creative endeavors. My days are better when I get a workout in the morning, without fail, and a few minutes of jogging around my room (yup, looks dumb) or jumping jacks gives me a boost that translates into creative-brain stimulation.
What are your favorite writing exercises?