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February Writing Yoga: Stretch those verbs!
Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA
Tuesday, February 6, 2024


Watch the video or read below:

It’s time for February’s Writing Yoga: a stretch exercise that you can turn into a strengthening exercise.

This exercise comes from a book called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I’ve had this book for a long time and recently revisited it and found this exercise to share with you.

First, stretch!

Fold a piece of paper in half vertically.

Image of piece of paper folded in half

On the left side, write the heading NOUNS, and on the right side, write VERBS.

Under nouns, list ten nouns. They could be anything at all, including:

  • Objects around you
  • Things out in the world
  • Subjects you write about frequently

Pick 15 occupation-specific verbs

Think of an occupation. Goldberg suggests chef. I thought of a driver, driving a ar.

Write a list of 15 verbs related to that occupation.

For example, a chef might chop and saute and sear. A driver might swerve and signal and coast.

Now link the nouns and verbs

Once you’ve done that, open up your paper and write sentences, linking the nouns with the verbs. You’re probably going to have to stretch to write the sentences because you weren’t thinking of those nouns and verbs working together when you made the lists. That’s the stretch part of the exercise.

You often end up with something poetic or insightful in an unexpected way.

The strengthening exercise

I stumbled upon the strengthening part of this exercise because I left my list of verbs sitting next to my computer. Later, I was working on revising a post, wondering how I could make it more interesting or compelling. My eyes went to that list of verbs and I thought, “Aha! Maybe I can put a word related to driving, like swerve or coast, into my post about writing.”

Take those active verbs and layer them into your writing practice.

Here’s the beauty of this exercise: you don’t have to stop with one list. You can make a new list every week.

  • If everybody is watching football one Sunday this month, you might make a list of 15 football-related verbs, looking beyond the obvious tackle and fumble.
  • Perhaps you look out the window and you see a bird and ask yourself, “What are 15 things that birds do, like flap and splash and murmurate?”

Keep generating lists of active verbs and then leave them lying around. See if you can weave them into your writing, strengthening your writing voice.

Want to explore further?

Check out January’s Writing Yoga exercise.

See more monthly challenges on YouTube.

Cuesta Park Consulting & Publishing publishes books and online courses for writers and marketing professionals. Books are available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats from a wide range of retailers. For more information, visit AnneJanzer.com.

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Name: Anne Janzer
Group: Cuesta Park Consulting
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA United States
Direct Phone: 4155176592
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