Play with Words to Improve Your Mind

“Play with Words to Improve Your Mind”  by Joan Y. Edwards

After listening to John Claude Bemis at the SCBWI conference, I ordered a book that has exercises similar to the ones he mentioned at the conference. It is called Writing Open the Mind by Andy Couturier

In this book, Couturier has many exercises to experiment using different words, settings, plots, and all parts that go into writing in general. It was fun for me to use words from unusual, random places. It gave me many new words and ideas for my project during National Novel Writing Month. Perhaps it’ll help you with your writing, too.

I changed one of his activities a bit. Here are suggestions:

Write down:

  • ten of your favorite settings, places you’d like to be; ten settings where you’d most hate being.

  • ten names you like; ten names you hate.

  • ten towns you like. ten towns you’d hate to be from (perhaps your antagonist can be from there)

  • ten tragic things that could happen to the main character in your work in progress; ten ways your character can make them worse.

  • ten jobs you’d love to have; ten jobs you’d hate to have

  • ten most proud things that could happen to you or to your main character; ten most embarrassing things that could happen to you or to your main character

  • ten of your favorite foods; ten of your most hated foods

  • ten of your favorite sayings; ten of your most hated sayings

Choose words for these lists while browsing the newspapers, magazines, books that you are currently reading, websites, dictionaries, maps, television, movies, etc. You can even use words you hear your family and friends say.  Write down words that pop out at you, that you magnetize you. I even used a crossword puzzle book. I wrote down all the words that called out to me.

I put my words at the bottom of the manuscript I was writing in the computer at the time. I did free writing or writing that came to mind that was in tune with the story. When I used the word, I deleted it from the list.  You could write them on a piece of paper next to the computer and cross them off when you use them, too. Choose a way that suits you.

Set the timer and write 3 minutes using one of the words. Spend the next three minutes disagreeing with everything you wrote the first three minutes. That’ll add tension to your story. You can save this as a draft and use what you want and discard the other or save it for another time and another story.

Here are online timers that may work for you:, and

Every month is a great month for giving. It is in giving that we receive the most wonderful things in return, thankfulness, love, and appreciation. This month I’d like for you to honor yourself and submit one of your quality manuscripts to a publisher, agent, or contest. If it hasn’t been critiqued, let your critique group read it and give you their opinions, then follow the directions for

You Have the Essentials for Submitting: Go for it. 

Step 1 Get work critiqued, revised, printed, and proofed.

Step 2 Choose the publisher, editor, agent, or contest for this writing project.

Step 3 Write the pitch, query letter, cover letter, resume, bio, and/or proposal as required by the guidelines of the editor, agent, or contest you chose for submission this time.

Step 4 Proof and Send your pitch, query letter, cover letter, resume, bio, and/or proposal as required by the guidelines of the editor, agent, or contest you chose for submission this time.


Believe in Yourself
Submit Your Manuscript This Month
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards

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6 thoughts on “Play with Words to Improve Your Mind”

    1. Dear Online,
      You’re very welcome. I like to share resources that might be helpful to my readers. It’s great that you were creative and resourceful and kind to share it for free.
      May your holidays be blessed.
      Do something fun to celebrate you!
      Joan Y. Edwards

  1. Joan,

    I took a look inside the book you recommended. What a fun one! I think I’ll order a copy for myself. Thanks for sharing something you have found to be so helpful. I like your Believe Pub Sub logo. Nice one! Did you create it on your iPad? Thanks for always encouraging us to submit our writing.

    1. Dear Linda,
      The way Amazon lets us look inside books and the reviews gives us prospective buyers an understanding of what the book is about. Then we can get it from our library or purchase it. I’m glad you like the new Believe Pub Sub logo. I did create it myself. I used my Corel’s Painter 12 software on my desktop computer. I’m glad you like it. You’re welcome for my always encouraging you to submit your work. I also need to remind myself to submit my work, too.
      Have a great day celebrating you and your many talents.

  2. Hi Joan, Thanks for more fantastic ideas! I love the way you cull words from unlikely places. I also was intrigued by your PiBoIdMo badge and looked into that. I had never heard of it, but that’s another great idea. Good for you for pursuing your own golden ideas! I am proud of you and know you are going places with all the work you do. I hope one day when we’ve moved away from such a structured home school period I can get back to all this, I am keeping my hand in but long for more time for it. In the meantime I was encouraged by your ideas. Thanks and Merry Christmas! :l

    1. Dear Lara, It’s a pleasure to hear from you. You’re welcome for the ideas. I got them from reading Andy Couturier’s book, Writing Open the Mind. That and John Bemis’ talk at the SCBWI-Carolinas Conference. I just added my own ideas to what they said. It was fun doing it. I’m glad that you liked them. Keep pursuing your goals. Believe they can be done as well as homeschooling. Keep a record of your ideas for homeschooling, write a book about it and voila. There you have it. You can do your own Picture Book Idea Month – one idea a day. Or you could do a whole year of ideas. Then perhaps one of them will keep you so hyped up you’ll have to write it. What’s inside us has to come out!

      Joan Fill Yourself with Joy Share It – Watch the Ripple of Happiness Spread

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