There is, as always, truth in jest. In this case, if you don't practice what you're doing, you don't get better at it. And life being the stone-hearted bitch she is, if you aren't improving, you're getting worse. Standing still ain't an option.
So, here are a few things that I've used successfully for practice purposes, in practice pieces.
- No adverbs or adjectives. For as long as you can keep it going, write something with no adjectives, no adverbs, or no adjectives or adverbs. As an exercise in focusing on strong nouns and verbs this is very effective.
- Thesauropod switching. Take a common word, then consult a thesaurus (or thesaurus.com) . Try to use every listed synonym correctly in a short piece. This exercise really drives home that synonyms aren't things you can swap out at whim.
- The Bathos Swamp. Take a scene that should be highly emotional - it doesn't matter what the emotion is, so long as it's intense. Write it using the blandest language you can manage without adverbial/adjectival slush. Now rewrite in the most overblown language you can think of. Try not to laugh hysterically at the result.
- The Plot Derailment. This one is good for when you've written yourself into a corner and you can't figure out what to do next. The main character drops dead with heart failure. What do the other characters do next? Alternatively, the villain has a change of heart, gives away all his/her possessions, and joins an ascetic religious order. Now what?
- Slashing Fun. You're bored with your work in progress - here's a bizarre cure. Take the two least likely candidates for a relationship, and write a sizzling hot slash scene with them. For bonus points, add kink (A very obscure file name and possibly a password if you share your computer with kids are a good idea here. For that matter, I don't recommend doing this on the lunch break of your paid job. Just saying.)
- Scenery Salad. Take an image, and write a description of it in the fewest possible words. The idea should be not to literally describe, but to evoke the image so that someone who saw the picture after reading what you wrote would recognize it. For bonus points, do not use any "sight" words - keep the description entirely to the other senses.