WRITING EXERCISE: Endurance

To finish any writing project, endurance is the key ingredient. Endurance through the discovery of a first draft. Endurance through the repetitious slog of editing. Endurance through self doubt, imposter syndrome, and fighting to find the time and space to write. Endurance through the summer holidays without throwing your children/spouse/mother/cat out the window.

The same is true of our fictional characters. Every protagonist must endure something seemingly unendurable to get to the end of their story. They must overcome (or succumb to) some kind of challenge. And they must be changed by it in some way.

Endurance (and optional survival) is at the core of every good story, and every storytelling process.

So let’s use that experience and write about it, huh?

Image of an arid orange/pink desert with a singular twisted leafless tree. Caption says: endure and survive.

Throw yourself into a story about ENDURANCE, for example:

  • Hitting the wall in the middle of a marathon
  • Serving a prison sentence (whether innocent or guilty)
  • Trying to have a quiet cup of tea surrounded by screaming kids (true story)
  • A retelling of Sisyphus’s boulder-rolling never-ending story
  • Lying awake with insomnia
  • Surviving a twenty-four-hour flight
  • Watching paint dry
  • Battling a long-term illness
  • Finishing a novel (ahem)

Take your idea and focus on the struggle and strain of persistence:

How does this endurance affect your character mentally, physically, spiritually?

What would happen if they just gave up?

Will they ever get through to the other side?

And how will they be changed?

Maybe they overcome one kind of challenge only to be faced with another, bigger one…

Ooh, or, is this endurance a big ol’ metaphor for something else?

Gif of a hedgehog running full pelt along a street with the caption: keep going.

Give yourself 20 or so minutes to sketch out some ideas and see if any of them lead you towards a story.

[BONUS: And, on a personal note, ask yourself what keeps you writing, even when you want to throw in the towel?]

Jo Gatford

Jo Gatford

Jo is a writer who procrastinates about writing by writing about writing. She looks exactly like her avatar.
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