Writing Assignment: Sharpen Your Writing Skills

by Randy Murray on October 5, 2012

This week I’ve kicked off a month-long theme designed to help you sharpen your writing skills. Today let’s try something very specific and very basic:

We’re going to literally sharpen your writing.

Today, in this digital age, writing is easy, but it wasn’t always. Let’s try a physical activity that will lead us to writing more mindfully.

For today’s assignment find an unsharpened pencil. You may need to go out and buy one. But it must be unsharpened.

Next, sharpen the pencil, but you may not use any purpose-designed pencil sharpener. You may only use a knife or other cutting implement (like one blade of a pair of scissors). Carefully sharpen your pencil into a useable point and clean the shavings up.

Now, write about what you did, but use only your pencil and a clean, lined piece of paper to write upon. What is is like to physically sharpen the pencil? How well does your sharpened point work? How often do you have to resharpen it to reach the end of the page?

For bonus points, find a goose quill and make your own pen, then use it to write.

Click here to view and complete previous writing assignments.

And buy a copy of the Writing Assignments book!

The Writing Assignment: Sharpen Your Writing Skills by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel October 6, 2012 at 9:56 am

I did something with this ‘challenge’…: http://www.valiantnoise.net/2012/10/sharpened/


Randy Murray October 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

Good for you!

And no, it’s not a hoax. I want readers to think about the physicality of writing. This exercise is designed to both make the preparation for writing an explicit physical act and to let the writer think about the act of writing while doing that preparation.


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  • Sharpened | Valiant Noise October 6, 2012

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