Daily habits are all the rage right now. Some of the most well known writers and entrepreneurs tout the importance of building daily habits. Whether it be writing every day, walking, gratitude, exercise, whatever.
Although I’m not the best at keeping up with some of my daily habits, I have found that when I do, my days go much smoother. For example, a daily habit of journaling has helped me define my goals more clearly.
Today, however, I want to tell you about a different kind of daily habit I’m trying out. I’ve been doing this for about a week now and it has definitely helped my writing.
Ten Metaphors and Similes a Day
James Altucher is a prolific writer and podcaster. He’s a very interesting guy with a lot of great ideas. One of his daily habits is to sit down every morning and write down ten new ideas. He says writing ten ideas every day helps keep his “idea muscle” strong.
Obviously it’s a good idea. I’ve tried it, and it works great.
But I wanted to try the same process on something different: my writing.
You see, I’m still very new to writing fiction, so some of the stuff I write isn’t very descriptive. I want a reader to pick up one of my books and see the story in her head.
When you read something from Stephen King, you can’t help but see the story playing in your head like a movie.
Here’s an excerpt from one of Stephen King’s books.
When you read that, despite not knowing the rest of the story, it’s like you’re right there. Stephen King, like other great writers of fiction, possesses an almost magical ability to transport you into his world. I want to possess that same ability.
Now one way to gain that skill is to simply keep reading and writing, but I wanted to speed things up a bit. Riffing off of James Altucher’s ten ideas a day, I came up with a daily practice of writing down ten metaphors every day.
It’s as simple as it sounds, however, it isn’t always easy. Here’s how to get started.
Start with Cliches
Unless you’re a gifted storyteller, it will be difficult to come up with powerful metaphors until you’ve warmed up a bit. What I like to do is start with a few cliche metaphors to get myself in the right state of mind.
Start by writing things like:
- Black as coal
- Pouring rain
- Blinding light
- Butterflies in her stomach
Writers are often told to avoid cliches but that isn’t always good advice. Cliches can be powerful when used properly because the reader already understands their meaning.
Besides, this is just for practice.
As you go on, other, more colorful metaphors will come to you. Like this one…
“The Chevy jumped like an old dog that had been kicked…”
Writing them Down
It’s not often that I make a case for longhand writing. However, in this situation I think it’s important to step away from the keyboard. Writing similes and metaphors by hand seems to activate a part of the brain that the all-powerful laptop cannot.
In the end, it’s up to you. If you feel like you’d be better off typing them out, go for it. But I urge you to try longhand first.
The act of writing, pen to paper, seems to fuel more and more ideas for unique metaphors—at least to me.
Granted, they won’t all be gems, but after a while of maintaining this daily practice you will have some powerful and vivid ammunition for your next story.
Got any tips for better stories?