This is from Kay Kenyon, who teaches writers' workshops here and there, and has a prodigious bibliography. It's worth passing along!
I've been working so hard on novels the last few years that I've forgotten how useful it is to write small.If you're having trouble getting your head around that big project, it can flex your writing muscles to write in short bursts.*One of my favorite exercises (works best with a group) is to ask everyone to contribute a starting line like "Timmy sat on his sled at the top of Deadman Hill." Then everyone writes from that starting sentence. Set the timer for five minutes. You're done. Read out loud (no critiquing) then set the timer for ten minutes. Pull the next sentence out of the bowl, and write again. End with a twenty-minuter. I promise that in one hour you will write things that surprise you, and maybe knock your socks off. Some pieces will be clunkers, but the idea is to warm up, not create deathless fiction. Try flash fiction on your own, too. It's fun, and it teaches you to trust that the words will come.
I think I'll try this myself!