But that’s where timers (10-20 minutes seems to be a good baseline, depending on the complexity of the exercise) and a group come in handy.
Knowing that you’re going to share what you wrote with a group helps keep you accountable, and, from my own experience, elevates the quality of my writing immensely.
But your writing shouldn’t read like a diary entry, either.
Writing to strangers isn’t like telling like an inside joke to your best friend.
And if you’ve got a great story to tell, by all means tell it!
In fact, one of my favorite books of all time, Celine’s Death on the Installment Plan, is so raw and vivid precisely because of its autobiographical qualities.
Just as physical exercise builds muscle tone and chisels away at our body fat, writing exercises help us to refine our craft, peeling away the lazy metaphors and uninspired descriptions to reveal the crisp phrases and evocative imagery underneath — the writing we are capable of.
Additionally, because exercises provide you with a prompt to work with, you’re naturally more inclined to rely on your own writerly devices as a source of fuel.
It’s often said that children are naturally more creative than adults. Because they aren’t afraid to sound ridiculous, and they’re not under the illusion that they have I remember the first “real” short story I wrote (the stories about talking animals didn’t count).
It was a hybrid of Joseph Conrad and Kurt Vonnegut.