2nd February 2023
5 Creative Writing Exercises to Get Your Creativity Flowing
Whether you’re suffering from writer’s block or you just want to hone your talent, we’ve got five creative writing exercises to help improve your skills and inspire your creativity for your next novel, short story, or poem.
The Benefits of Creative Writing Exercises
Writing is like any skill: the more you practice it, the better you’ll get. Creative writing exercises are a way to flex your writing muscles. These tasks can help you:
● Look at your writing from a different perspective
● Expand your vocabulary
● Practice certain skills, such as writing dialogue or developing characters
● Generate ideas for longer pieces of writing
Writers of any level, from beginner to advanced, can use writing exercises. We’ve designed the five examples provided below to help you improve your skills, wherever you are in your writing journey.
1. Free Writing
Before you dive into some more specific exercises, why not try a bit of free writing?
This exercise involves writing down your thoughts and feelings as they come and acts almost like a stream of consciousness.
Here’s one way to try out free writing:
- Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Typing on a computer gives you more time to think about and edit what you’re writing – that’s not what you want to do here!
- Choose one of these prompts to start from:
● Who are you?
● How do you feel?
● What can you see?
● What are you thinking about?
● Why are you writing?
- Set a timer for however long you want to write. If you’re new to free writing, we recommend starting with ten-minute periods.
- Write nonstop until your time is up.
The idea of free writing is to get your brain and body into the writing mind-set. It’s also a good tool for producing ideas naturally without censoring yourself or interrupting the flow by editing what you’ve written.
You might even find that your piece of free writing has turned up a few gems that you can use for your next work!
2. Describe an Object
Description can make up large portions of a story and helps ground the reader in the world you’re creating while also providing important details.
If you want to sharpen your descriptive writing skills, we’ve got three variations of the Describe an Object exercise to try.
First, choose an object near you. Now challenge yourself by writing a description of that object that meets one of the following criteria:
- Doesn’t use the name of the object (for example, if you chose a chair, you can’t use the word chair in your description)
- Doesn’t use the word very (for example, use huge instead of very big)
- Uses only similes (for example, The chair is like a throne for a very poor king.)
If you’re looking to push yourself even further, you could try writing a description using all three rules at once!
You can also use this exercise to practice describing other things, such as people, places, or emotions.
3. The Truth Potion
Here’s a fun exercise to try if you want to practice your character-writing skills: imagine your character has accidentally drunk a truth potion and now can’t lie!
Write about what happens next and answer these questions:
● How does the character feel about having to tell the truth?
● What unexpected secrets are they forced to reveal?
● How do the other characters react to learning these things?
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You can use one of your own characters for this exercise or borrow one from your favorite book.
By forcing a character to be honest in this way, you can explore their backstory, motivations, and potential development while also considering what details you would normally hide from other characters (and your readers).
4. An Alternate Universe
The plot of a novel or short story often hinges on a series of events or decisions. So what would happen if one of those events happened differently?
This question is the basis for our next exercise.
Choose a piece of your own writing or a scene from one of your favorite books and identify what happens to trigger the next stage of the plot.
For example, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, icy weather conditions force the protagonists to enter the mines of Moria, where a deadly battle later takes place.
Once you’ve identified the catalyst in your chosen scene, either remove it or change it. Then write an alternate version of what follows, exploring what direction the plot might now take.
Using our above example, we could write about the Fellowship’s peaceful journey through a sunny mountain pass – but would a change in weather trigger new dangers, such as melting ice?
When you make your change, think about what new obstacles it will introduce to the story and how these will affect the plot going forward.
5. Talk It Out
Dialogue can play a key part in telling a story. But it can be difficult to write dialogue that feels natural and engaging while remaining relevant to the events that unfold.
For this exercise, we challenge you to write a scene using just dialogue – that means no narration, description, or dialogue tags!
You’ll need to take two characters, then write a conversation between them.
If you’re struggling for ideas, here are some first lines you can use as a starting point:
● I should have known it was you.
● Where are you going?
● This can’t wait any longer.
● What happened last night?
● We might have a problem.
● I need to confess to something.
● Do you like surprises?
As you’re writing, think about how you can tell a story and convey information about characters using only the things they say – or the things they don’t.
These are just a few examples of the many types of creative writing exercises you can use to improve your writing skills and explore new ideas.
The most important thing is to find exercises that interest you and inspire you to write.
Each exercise is designed to work on a specific aspect of writing, so it’s important to practice a variety of exercises to become a well-rounded writer.
Expert Proofreading for Authors
We hope our exercises will help you break through writer’s block and free your creativity!
If we’ve inspired you to write your next masterpiece, don’t forget to get it proofread. Our team of proofreaders is here to help 24/7 and can even offer a free proofreading sample.
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