Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Review of Creative Calisthenics

Review of
By Terri L. Main

If you are like many writers, you often find yourself at a loss for words. You may have tried different books about breaking through writer's block, writing prompts emailed on a daily basis, or just freewriting where you take a word and add related words until you find yourself writing a story.

Now, there's another solution, one that I think you will find both useful and entertaining. Terri L. Main, communications professor at Reedley College in California, has written a fabulous book, Creative Calisthenics. According to Ms. Main, "this book is all about pumping up your creativity and having a good time doing so."

For years, Ms. Main wrote a column for the Fellowship of Christian Writers email discussion group. As part of that column, she created different writing exercises. Creative Calisthenics is a compilation of the collected exercises plus an additional twenty new essays. The book features more than 175 story starters, prompts and exercises to get your creative writing juices flowing.

The book is intended as a reference, not something you would sit down and read. You'll want to keep it handy, to flip to an appropriate section as needed. Listed at the front are chapter headings such as "Jumper Cables for the Brain," "Characters and Settings," and "Organization and Plotting." Don't get me wrong, this isn't a tool just for fiction writers, non-fiction writers will find plenty to jump start their brains as well.

Each section is filled with intriguing ideas to get you started. For example, in "Jumper Cables for the Brain," Ms. Main suggests this:

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to..."
"Have you ever thought about detours? You start going somewhere. Then right in the middle of the road is a detour. You have to go an entirely different way. Sometimes those detours are more interesting than the main road once you get over the irritation of having to go a different way.

"So, here's a story starter for you. Choose a couple of characters at random. Put them in a car going somewhere. Then right in the middle of the road appears a detour sign. Where does the detour take them? How do they react ot the detour? What do they find down that road? How does the detour change everything?

"Detours can be annoying and interesting. They can also be a great way to get a story started."

I know I'm going to keep my copy of Creative Calisthenics close at hand for those days my brain just can't quite get started. Creative Calisthenics carries a cover price of $12.57 for print, $5.00 for PDF and $3.50 for Ereader. Stop by Ms. Main's web site http://www.creativecalisthenics.com/index.html for more information.


Terri Main has a promotion going on to give away free copies of
the book with a newsletter subscription. I asked her about this and she responded:

"I'll be offering that through January 7. That's Wednesday Midnight. When they sign up for the newsletter either on the CreativeCalisthenics.com site or at


They will receive a welcome letter with the URL for download of their free copy. Obviously, I can't keep that up forever, but I think they will enjoy the newsletter. It will be a good adjunct to the book. It will have new prompts, articles about creativity in writing and in life. And as new Creative Calisthenics products come out they will have first look and discounts."


  1. Good review. I like how you highlighted some of my own favourite aspects of Creative Calisthenics.

    I had the privilege of a preview of CC while converting the document for Ms Main -- my eyes kept veering off the task at hand to catch glimpses of interesting-sounding topics like "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to..." I was hooked and read the whole thing.

    I mistakingly assumed that Creative Calisthenics was for writers of fiction, however, as someone involved in the publishing of fiction and as a writer of non-fiction I soon realized that Ms Main's exercises work for both groups!


  2. Thanks for stopping by. I agree this is definitely a book for both fiction and non-fiction writers.