Writing Exercise: The False Letter

Written by Emily Harstone | April 5, 2013

A lot of writers complain of having writers block, an inability to come up with new things to write. Sometimes this happens when you are between projects, other times it happens when you have not written for a while. Occasionally it will happen in the middle of a project, when you cannot think of what to write next, how to continue or conclude the story.

If Writers Block happens to you, or even if it never does, writing exercises are a good way to get the creative juices pumping. I think the secret to writing exercises is not to take them too seriously.

Do not try to be perfect while you are writing them, just try to get them out onto the page.

The writing exercise this week is a simple one.  Start with a clean sheet of paper, or a new word document, and then type a name at the top. It can be the name of someone you know, or it can be the name of someone that you do not associate with any more in your life.

Proceed from here as if you are writing a letter to the person named at the top of the document. You can decide to add a modifier before their name such as dear, beautiful, etc. . .

Throughout the letter refer to yourself as I and to the recipient as “you”.

The letter can be about anything. It should however not be truthful. For example if you find yourself including things that actually happen to you in your life, exaggerate or alter the details of these events.

Feel free to reveal things in the letter, true or false, that you would never say in real life.

If you are writing the letter to a completely imagined person, try to summon up some details for them. Try to picture them in your head. Do they wear glasses? Do they have curly hair?

Make up a false story, for yourself of how you met, or how you are connected. That should help them feel ‘real’.

This writing exercise is good because it stretches  a lot of different creative writing muscles. It is also an interesting way to create a character that you may use in a longer piece of writing, even if you discard the exercise.

Have fun with the exercise! Experiment! And remember to succeed with a writing exercise, your writing doesn’t have to be good, it just has to end up on the page.