We are belly deep into the season of excess. Booze, fun, family, food...not much comes in small doses this time of the year. This cruel exercise from Ursula Le Guin is an antidote to glut. It won't help you make it through the last holiday hurrah, but it will keep your writing lean. Salut.
A Terrible Thing to Do
Take one of the longer narrative exercises you wrote...any one that went over 400 words--and cut it by half.
If none of the exercises is suitable, take any piece of narrative prose you have ever written, 400-1000 words, and do this terrible thing to it.
This doesn't mean cuttin a little bit here and there, snipping and pruning--though that's part of it. It means counting the words andreducing them to half that many, while keeping the narrative clear and the sensory impact vivid, not replacing specifics by generalities, and never using the word "somehow."
If there's dialogue in your piece, cut any long speech or long conversation in half just as implacably.
--Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew (1998, Eight Mountain Press)