Here's one for the writers out there:
The task is simple: open your current/newest writing project and then list the FIRST TEN VERBS which appear in that project.
I learned this trick/game back in college when a writing prof was trying to drive home the point of active aggressive forceful writing versus limp and lazy passive writing. If you do this and find yourself listing a bunch of "is" and "are" and "seems" and such, maybe it's time to go back and turn up the heat and add some more sizzle,
I have a new project I just started toying with, and as usual I like to scribble out an opening and closing scene to help me nail the tone and the possible trajectory of the story. I have a handful of opening pages done, and here are the first ten verbs (so far):
Not as shabby as it might have been, but I know this will improve as I actually work on this. Still, it's a fun and (often) useful easy trick to use on your own writing.