Exercising your writing muscles during self-isolation

The extra hours at home most of us have at the moment might be making you feel like exercising those slackening writing muscles, but you just don’t know what to write.

If you’re lucky and have a potential bestseller you’re in the middle of you won’t have any trouble writing (I hope).

But what if you haven’t? Where do you start?

Writing for the sake of it is more often than not unproductive. You’ll struggle to maintain interest and your writing will suffer. You need to choose something meaningful to you.

Start small.

Write a letter

In these times of self-isolation we all need to maintain contact with our friends and family. We send enough emails and texts to each other and it seems the traditional letter has suffered. But what better way to communicate with someone when you have the time than a physical letter with your handwriting on it?

Be descriptive. Write about your thoughts as well as about the things you have been doing. Write about your fears during the Coronavirus crisis – we’ll all be having them – your recipient is bound to understand what you’re saying. Whatever you write about be as open as you can.

Practise your prose in your letter. The recipient is sure to love it.


Emails are often brief affairs and very much to the point. When was the last time you wrote a long, descriptive email to someone? Try turning your everyday experiences into a passage you’d be proud of if you’d put it in that bestseller you’re writing. You might even find you’ve written something you can include in your bestseller.


Choose a subject you are interested in and write about it. Write about why you are interested, what aspect fascinates you most, what you know about it. Do a bit of research and include it in your own words. You might surprise yourself with what you already know.


Write about a dream you had recently. You can read more about dreams as a tool for writing here.

Be disciplined

Whatever you’ve written, and however much you’ve written, you have at least stimulated your writing muscles, and/or your imagination, and that’s a good thing.

Be regular about your writing. They say you exercise better physically if you do it at regular times because your muscles and muscle memory are more tuned in to what they are about to do. The same can be said of any discipline. If you hold down a job Monday to Friday, 9-5, try imagining going to work on a Sunday at 2pm for 6 hours. Your brain and your body aren’t geared up for it—unless you do shift work.

It’s all in the discipline. And the more you discipline your writing hand, your imagination, and your writing time, the more you will be able to write when you pick up your pen or poise your fingers over the keyboard.

How do you cope with being isolated, or having more time on your hands? Do you dread approaching your writing and feel guilty that you’re not getting on as well as you’d hoped? What plans, or boundaries, do you make around your writing time?