Writing exercises and prompts are one of my favorite parts of books on writing. So on my last quest for a new writing book, I looked for a book that was meant to be used rather than simply read. Brian Kiteley gave me a solution.
In The 3 A.M Epiphany, Kiteley has given me a gold mine. The book is composed of over 200 exercises on a range of subjects, from point of view and images to humor and travel. For me, they differ from what you might find in other how-to books because the exercises themselves are meant to be the teacher. Frequently, the prompts and exercises are located at the ends of chapters to reinforce the lesson that was just given. This book teaches by allowing you to write. For people who learn best by doing something and not just reading about it, it may be exactly what you need!
I am working my way through this book one exercise at a time. Each day I move on to the next one, so it will take me almost seven months to finish the book! However, I consider it a warm up for my day. I begin with a writing exercise, which rarely takes more than fifteen minutes, and then move on to my work-in-progress (WIP), an article, or a blog post.
My favorite exercise thus far is number 48, which asks the reader to write 600 words using cookery "as a way of understanding a man and a woman's relationship to each other." As a full-time cook, I love the idea of using food related scenes to help in my character development! Everyone has a favorite story to tell on the subject.
You may wish to work through the exercises in a more random fashion, jumping to a topic that you need work on or just to an arbitrary page. If you are stuck on a particular WIP, try checking out the last dozen selections. They are devoted to just that problem, and range from writing quickly about a particular character to try and "outrun" your internal critic to using a tape recorder to tell the story of a scene that is giving you trouble.
Kiteley has challenged me to look more deeply at my own writing thanks to The 3 A.M. Epiphany. After I complete one exercise, the next one might ask me to do something completely opposite. It is a unique way of helping me grow and develop my writer's toolkit!