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Two Exercises to Improve Your Writing

The best writing is concise and stripped of excess, and the best writers can write fast without sacrificing quality. Here are two really effective writing exercises anyone can use to write better, clearer and faster. 

Exercise #1: Reduction Reps

Pick a story, any story. A story from your childhood, an account from a trip, your first date, whatever. Write it in 500 words or less. The next day, write the same account in 250 words or less. Day 3, write it in 100 words or less. On the fourth day, write it in 50 words or less. I’m not talking about editing the previous day’s work but writing the story from scratch each day. This helps you slash and burn extra junk that slips into your writing: adverbs, adjectives, details that don’t further the plot, “throat clearing” phrases like “In any case,” and so on.

Exercise #2: Speed Writing

Writing fast is a skill. This time, the target is 500 words, but now you’re going to remove time, not words. Pick a topic you want to write about and write 1000 words on it (give or take 50 words here or there) in an hour. That’s fast. The next day, try to write 1000 words on another topic in 50 minutes. On Day 3, try to do it in 40 minutes, and on Day 4, try to hit 1000 in half an hour. What makes this really powerful is that you choose a new subject each day, so you’re not rehashing but creating new ideas…FAST. This actually makes your writing better because you don’t have time to self-edit, one of the worst bits of self-sabotage writers commit.

Now go write something.

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