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105 Creative Writing Exercises To Get You Writing Again

You know that feeling when you just don’t feel like writing? Sometimes you can’t even get a word down on paper. It’s the most frustrating thing ever to a writer, especially when you’re working towards a deadline. The good news is that we have a list of 105 creative writing exercises to help you get motivated and start writing again!

What are creative writing exercises?

Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don’t need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly. The whole idea is to just get you writing something, anything. The end result of these quick creative writing exercises is normally a series of notes, bullet points or ramblings that you can, later on, use as inspiration for a bigger piece of writing such as a story or a poem. 

Good creative writing exercises are short, quick and easy to complete. You shouldn’t need to think too much about your style of writing or how imaginative your notes are. Just write anything that comes to mind, and you’ll be on the road to improving your creative writing skills and beating writer’s block . 

Use the generator below to get a random creative writing exercise idea:

List of 105+ Creative Writing Exercises

Here are over 105 creative writing exercises to give your brain a workout and help those creative juices flow again:

dictionary-random-word-imagine-forest

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Do you have any more fun creative writing exercises to share? Let us know in the comments below!

creative writing exercises

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

books creative writing exercises

Good question.

Creative writing exercises are designed to teach a technique. They are highly specific, more specific than creative writing prompts, and much more specific than story generators.

Creative writing exercises for adults are not designed to lead the writer into crafting a full story, but are only designed to help them improve as a writer in a narrow, specific category of writing skills.

I’ve broken the exercises below into categories so you can choose what category of skill you’d like to practice. Can you guess which category in this list has the most prompts?

If you guessed characters, then you’re right. I think characters are the heart blood of every story, and that a majority of any writing prompts or writing exercises should focus on them.

But I also think any of these will help you create a narrative, and a plot, and help you generate all kinds of dialogue, whether for short stories or for novels. These writing exercises are pretty much guaranteed to improve your writing and eliminate writer’s block. 

Also, if you’re a fledgling writer who needs help writing their novel, check out my comprehensive guide to novel writing.

Enjoy the five categories of writing exercises below, and happy writing!

five senses

1. Think of the most deafening sound you can imagine. Describe it in great detail, and have your character hear it for the first time at the start of a story.

2. Have a man cooking for a woman on a third date, and have her describe the aromas in such loving and extended detail that she realizes that she’s in love with him.

3. Pick a line from one of your favorite songs, and identify the main emotion. Now write a character who is feeling that emotion and hears the song. Try to describe the type of music in such a beautiful way that you will make the reader yearn to hear the song as well.

4. Have a character dine at a blind restaurant, a restaurant in pitch blackness where all the servers are blind, and describe for a full paragraph how the tablecloth, their clothing, and the hand of their dining partner feels different in the darkness.

5. Select a dish representative of a national cuisine, and have a character describe it in such detail that the reader salivates and the personality of the character is revealed.

Dialogue exercises

7. Describe two characters having a wordless conversation, communicating only through gestures. Try to see how long you can keep the conversation going without any words spoken, but end it with one of them saying a single word, and the other one repeating the same word.

8. In a public place from the last vacation you took, have two characters arguing, but make it clear by the end of the argument that they’re not arguing about what they’re really upset about.

9. Write a scene composed mostly of dialogue with a child talking to a stranger. Your mission is to show the child as heartbreakingly cute. At the same time, avoid sentimentality. 

10. Have two character have a conversation with only a single word, creating emphasis and context so that the word communicates different things each time it is spoken. The prime example of this is in the television show “The Wire,” where Jimmy and Bunk investigate a crime scene repeating only a single expletive.

books creative writing exercises

11. Pick an object that is ugly, and create a character who finds it very beautiful. Have the character describe the object in a way that convinces the reader of its beauty. Now write a second version where you convince the reader (through describing the object alone) that the character is mentally unstable.

12. Write down five emotions on slips of paper and slip them into a hat. Now go outside and find a tree. Draw one emotion from the hat, and try to describe that tree from the perspective of a character feeling that emotion. (Don’t mention the emotion in your writing — try to describe the tree so the reader could guess the emotion).

13. Describe a character’s bedroom in such a way that it tells us about a person’s greatest fears and hopes.

14. Root through your desk drawer until you find a strange object, an object that would probably not be in other people’s drawers. Have a character who is devastated to find this object, and tell the story of why this object devastates them.

15. Go to an art-based Pinterest page and find your favorite piece of art. Now imagine a living room inspired by that flavor of artwork, and show the room after a husband and wife have had the worst fight of their marriage.

16. Pick a simple object like a vase, a broom, or a light bulb, and write a scene that makes the reader cry when they see the object.

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17. Make a list of the top five fears in your life. Write a character who is forced to confront one of those fears.

18. Write an entire page describing the exact emotions when you learned of a happy or calamitous event in your life. Now try to condense that page into a single searing sentence.

19. Think about a time in your life when you felt shame. Now write a character in a similar situation, trying to make it even more shameful.

20. Write a paragraph with a character struggle with two conflicting emotions simultaneously. For example, a character who learns of his father’s death and feels both satisfaction and pain.

21. Write a paragraph where a character starts in one emotional register, and through a process of thought, completely evolves into a different emotion.

Characters:

books creative writing exercises

22. Create a minor character based upon someone you dislike. Now have your main character encounter them and feel sympathy and empathy for them despite their faults.

23. Have a kooky character tell a story inside a pre-established form: an instruction manual, traffic update, email exchange, weather report, text message.

24. Write about a character who does something they swore they would never do.

25. Have a character who has memorized something (the names of positions in the Kama Sutra, the entire book of Revelations) recite it while doing something completely at odds with what they’re reciting. For instance, bench pressing while reciting the emperors in a Chinese dynasty.

26. Write a paragraph where a character does a simple action, like turning on a light switch, and make the reader marvel at how strange and odd it truly is.

27. Have a couple fight while playing a board game. Have the fight be about something related to the board game: fighting about money, have them play monopoly. Fighting about politics, let them play chess.

28. Write about two characters angry at each other, but have both of them pretend the problems don’t exist. Instead, have them fight passive-aggressively, through small, snide comments.

29. Describe a character walking across an expanse field or lot and describe how he walks. The reader should perfectly understand his personality simply by the way you describe his walk.

30. Write a first-person POV of a character under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and try to make the prose as woozy and tipsy as the character.

31. Describe the first time that a character realizes he is not as smart as he thought.

32. Describe an hour in the life of a character who has recently lost their ability to do what they love most (a pianist who has severe arthritis; a runner who became a quadriplegic).

33. Write an argument where a husband or wife complains of a physical ailment, but their spouse refuses to believe it’s real.

34. Write a scene where a stranger stops your main character, saying that they know them, and insisting your main character is someone they are not. Describe exactly how this case of mistaken identity makes your character feel.

35. Describe a small personality trait about a person you love, and make the reader love them, too.

36. Write a personality-revealing scene with a character inside a public restroom. Do they press a thumb against the mirror to leave a subtle mark? Do they write a plea for help on the inside of the stall door? Do they brag about the size of what they’ve just dumped off?

37. Give your character an extremely unusual response to a national tragedy like a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Maybe have them be aware their response is unusual, and try to cloak it from others, or have them be completely unaware and display it without any self-consciousness.

38. Have one of your main characters come up with an idea for a comic book, and tell a close friend about the idea. What about this idea would surprise the friend, upsetting what he thought he knew about your main character? Also, what would the main character learn about himself from the comic book idea?

39. Think of an illness someone you love has suffered from. How does your character respond when someone close to them has this illness?

40. Have your main character invent an extremely offensive idea for a book, and show their personality faults through discussing it with others.

41. Have your character write down a list considering how to respond to their stalker.

42. Write a scene where a man hits on a woman, and although the woman acts repulsed and begs her friends to get him away from her, it becomes apparent that she likes the attention.

43. Write about a 20-something confronting his parents over their disapproval of his lifestyle.

44. Have your character write a funny to-do list about the steps to get a boyfriend or girlfriend.

45. Have a risk-adverse character stuck in a hostage situation with a risk-happy character.

46. For the next week, watch strangers carefully and take notes in your phone about any peculiar gestures or body language. Combine the three most interesting ones to describe a character as she goes grocery shopping.

47. Buy a package of the pills that expand into foam animals, and put a random one in a glass of warm water. Whatever it turns out to be, have that animal surprise your main character in a scene.

48. Have your character faced with a decision witness a rare, awe-inspiring event, and describe how it helps them make their decision.

49. Imagine if your character met for the first time his or her long-lost identical twin. What personality traits would they share and which ones would have changed because of their unique experiences? 

50. If a character got burned by a hot pan, what type of strange reaction would they have that would reveal what they value most?

Once you’ve taken a stab at some of these exercises, I’d recommend you use them in your actual writing.

And for instruction on that, you need a guide to writing your novel . 

That link will change your life and your novel. Click it now.

Creative Writing Exercises

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30 comments

John Fox, you have some excellent resources, and I thank you. I read your comments, then scrolled down to glance at the list of 50 exercises. The FIRST one, “loud noise’ is already in my head. My Hero is going to be side swiped in my Cozy. I was side swiped on a state highway here in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and, although the damage was minor, the sound of that big SUV “glancing” off my little car was SCARY!!! I once heard a fast-moving car REAR-END is stand-still car; that sound was something I’ll never forget. So, your exercise is very timely. THANK YOU!!!

This is a great list! Thanks!

You know what would be motivating? If we could turn these in to someone and get like a grade lol

I’ve been thinking a lot about “how to master writing,” and this is the first time that I found an article that makes it clear the difference between prompts and exercises. I fully agree with you. These are bound to make you a better writer if you focus on doing a variation of them daily.

An excellent list – thank you very much. I run a small writing group and we’ll be trying some.

Yes, thank you. I too run a small writing group and you got me out of a slump for tomorrow’s group!

yes,thank you . It’s good for improve your writing skills.

What a lovely list! I am working on the final draft of my very first novel, and am constantly working at improving the final product. Your exercises are just what I need to kickstart my writing day. Thank you so very much.

Thank you very much When I turned50 I received my diploma from Children’s Institute in West Redding Ct I got my inspiration from being near water however now that I am in Oregon I have had a writing block thanks to your list my creative juices are flowing

I suppose I better have good punctuation, seeing this is about Writing. Thank you for this great list. I am the Chair of our small Writing group in Otorohanga and we start again last week of Feb. I have sent out a homework email, to write a A4 page of something exciting that has happened over the holiday break and they must read it out to the group with passion and excitement in their voices. That will get them out of their comfort zone!

A formidable yet inspiring list. Thank you very much for this. This is really very helpful. I am from India, and very new to writing and have started my first project, which I want to make it into a Novel. This has been very helpful and is very challenging too. Prompts look sissy when compared to this, frankly speaking. Thank you very much again.

Where can I get the answers for these?

There aren’t “answers.” You create responses to these exercises.

Thank you so much for the detailed suggestions focusing on HOW to put the WHAT into practice; really helpful & inspiring.

Just started rough drafting a story I’ve always wanted to write. Do you have any advice for someone writing their first real story? I’m having trouble starting it; I just want it to be perfect.

I consider this very helpful. Just started my journey as a creative writer, and will be coming back to this page to aid my daily writing goal.

I have always loved writing exercises and these are perfect practice for my competition. I have tried lots of different things that other websites have told me to try, but this by far is the most descriptive and helpful site that i have seen so far.

This is really a creative blog. An expert writer is an amateur who didn’t stop. I trust myself that a decent writer doesn’t actually should be advised anything but to keep at it. Keep it up!

I’ve always enjoyed writing from a little girl. Since I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously as does everybody else it seems; I’ve lost the fun and sponteneity. Until now…..this is a marvelous blog to get back the basic joy and freedom in writing. Or should that be of?:) These exercises are perfect to get the creative juices flowing again…..thank you:)

These are interesting exercises for writing.

These are fantastic! I started reading a really awesome book on creative writing but it just didn’t get any good or easy to follow exercises. So I found your site and having been having a lot of fun with these. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

creative and inspiring, thank you

I always wanted to have an exercise where a friend and I each wrote a random sentence and sent it to each other to write a short story from that beginning sentence, then exchange the stories for reading and/or critique. Maybe both writers start with the same sentence and see how different the stories turn out.

Thanks for these exercises. Some are really challenging. To truly tackle them I’m having to spend as long beforehand thinking “how the HECK am I going to do this?” as I do with ink on paper. Would be a great resource if other authors submitted their replies and thoughts about how they went about each exercise.

Start the conversation: submit one of yours.

I think I can use these to inspire my students.

Hi there. Thank you for posting this list- it’s great! Can I ask you to consider removing number 42 or perhaps changing it somewhat? I teach sex ed and every year am shocked by how many young people don’t understand issues around consent. Stories about woman who ‘say no but really mean yes’ are deeply unhelpful. Really appreciate your post but felt I had to ask. Thanks.

What’s wrong with the number 42?

I just make this list a part of my teaching in Creative Writing Classes. Very good list of ideas!

books creative writing exercises

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✍️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

This curated directory of creative writing exercises was conceived thanks to a collaboration between the top writing blogs of 2023. Use the filters to find and practice specific techniques — and show that blank page who’s boss!

We found 119 exercises that match your search 🔦

The Hammer and the Hatchet

A stranger walks into the general store and buys a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, and an apple. What does he do with them?

Writer's Block

Picket fence.

Describe your house - or the dream house you hope to get some day.

Telephone Directory

It is commonly known that a telephone directory might be the most boring text in the entire world. Here is your challenge: write a page of a telephone directory and figure out SOME way to make it interesting.

Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms. Just write eight lines of any length that flow and explore some aspect of character, setting, or theme.

Character Development

The ellen degeneres show.

A talk show is scripted to promote the guest and discuss topics with which the guest is comfortable. Imagine your protagonist on the Ellen Degeneres Show (or The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - whichever show you're familiar with). What questions would be asked of your protagonist? What funny anecdotes would your protagonist share? Write down the reactions of both your protagonist and the host.

Thank you to all our contributors: Almost An Author, Alyssa Hollingsworth, Anne R. Allen, Bang2Write, Christopher Fielden, Darcy Pattinson, Elizabeth S. Craig, Flogging The Quill, Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips, Helping Writers Become Authors, Katie McCoach, Lauren Carter, Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Mandy Wallace, NaNoWriMo, Nail Your Novel, Novel Publicity, One Stop For Writers, Pro Writing Aid, PsychWriter, re:Fiction, The Journal, The Writer’s Workshop, Well-Storied, Women On Writing, writing.ie, Writing-World.com!

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42 Creative Writing Exercises

Creative writing exercises for adults

This page contains a selection of fun creative writing exercises that can be completed solo, or with a group.  Some are prompts to help inspire you to come up with story ideas, others focus on learning specific writing skills.

The sections are as follows:

A note on running exercises remotely

A letter from your character to you, the opening sentence, make your protagonist act, overcoming writer's block, character arc, giving feedback to authors, the five senses, show don't tell, world building.

Degrees of Emotion Game

Three birds, one line, blind date on valentine's day (exercise for adults), a success (works best for online groups), your dream holiday, writing a haiku, writing a limerick, time travel - child, adult, senior, focus on faces.

The alphabet story - creating a story as a group

A question or two, murder mystery game, the obscure movie exercise, how to hint at romantic feelings, a novel idea, creative writing prompts, creative story cards / dice, alternative christmas story, murder mystery mind map.

Other Content:

How to run the writing exercises

While you can enjoy the exercises solo, a lot of writing groups have gone online during the coronavirus pandemic and are using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Skype to keep in touch with other writers during this time.

If you're running such a group and following a ' Shut Up and Write ' structure, I recommend connecting on WhatsApp (for example) first, doing the exercise together, with participants sending each other their writing samples where necessary as part of the exercise, then disconnecting to write in silence for an hour and a half, before reconnecting for a brief informal chat at the end. This works well with small remote groups and is a great way to gain some online support and stay productive!

If you have a larger group, it's worth looking into Zoom, as this has a feature called  Breakout Rooms . Breakout Rooms let you split different writers into separate rooms, which is great for group activities. The free version of Zoom has a 40 minute limit, which can be restrictive, but Zoom Pro is well worth it if you're going to use it on a regular basis. In my experience, Zoom has a better connection than Skype or WhatsApp.

I hope you remain healthy and creative throughout this difficult time for us all.

I run a  Creative Writing Meetup  for adults and teens in Montpellier every week where we start with a 5 to 20 minute exercise, followed by an hour and a half of silent writing, where we each work on our own project. Each of these exercises has been used with the group and works well.  Where the exercises below specify a number of people, if you have a larger group, simply split everyone up into smaller groups as appropriate.

The solo exercises are ideal if you’re working by yourself to help stimulate your mind before working on a larger project or to overcome writer’s block, or can be used with a larger group, where you simply ask everyone to share what they’ve written in groups of 3 or 4 people afterwards. Looking for something quick to fire your imagination? Check out these  creative writing prompts for adults .

Letter from fictional character to the author

If your goal is to write a complete work of fiction, whether it be a novel, a play or a movie script, you will one day need to write to an agent or publisher to ask them to publish your work.

In this exercise, we turn this around and ask you to instead spend 10 minutes writing a letter from a character in your novel to  you , the author, explaining why you should write about them! This serves three purposes:

If you're doing this exercise with a group of teens or adults, and some of the group haven't already started working on their masterpiece, they can instead choose any fictional novel that they love and imagine that a character within it wrote to the author in the first place to ask them to write their story.  What did that letter look like?

First sentence of books

The opening sentence has to grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. Many authors achieve this by starting with an action scene and avoid starting with someone waking up, or a description of the weather. In this exercise the task is to write an opening sentence either to a book you're currently writing, or simply for an imaginary piece of literature.  Here are some of my favourite opening sentences to get you going:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

George Orwell , 1984

The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.

Helene Wecker , The Golem and the Djinni

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina

It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.

Diana Gabaldon , Outlander

You better not never tell nobody but God.

Alice Walker , The Color Purple

The cage was finished.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,  Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon

Imagine that you are living your life out of order: Lunch before breakfast, marriage before your first kiss.

Audrey Niffenegger ,  The Time Traveler's Wife

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Douglas Adams ,  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There are a plethora of ways that you can start a book, however two ways that help engage the reader immediately are:

Spend 5 minutes working on your own opening sentence, then share it with the other participants.

Exercise for 2 writers, or can be done solo.

Make your characters act

According to John Gardner:

"Failure to recognise that the central character must act, not simply be acted upon, is the single most common mistake in the fiction of beginners."

Spend 5 minutes writing a scene where the protagonist is passive in a conversation with one other character. It could be that the other character says something dramatic, and the protagonist just listens, or it could be anything else of your choice!

Once the 5 minutes is up, swap papers with another writer. If you're using Zoom, or working online, send it to each other in a private chat. Now the other person spends 8 minutes rewriting the scene to make the protagonist as active as possible. This might include:

Read both scenes together. Which makes you want to keep on reading?

If you're doing this as a solo writing exercise, simply complete both parts yourself.

Overcoming writer's block

Are you staring at a blank page or stuck for any story ideas? This exercise will help anyone who's experiencing writer's block with a particular piece of writing. If this isn't you, that's great, others will value your input!

If anyone has a particular scene that they're stuck with (a pool of blood on the floor that they have no explanation for, a reason why the rich lady just walked into a particular pub, etc.) then at the start of the exercise everyone briefly describes their scenes (if working online with a large group, typing it into the chat might be best). Everyone then chooses one scene to use as a writing prompt to write a short story for 10-15 minutes.

Afterwards, split into small groups if necessary, and read out how you completed someone else's writing prompt. As everyone listens to everyone else's ideas, this can be a wonderful source of inspiration and also improves your writing. As an alternative solo exercise, try free writing. With free writing, simply write as quickly as you can on the topic without editing or censoring yourself - just let your creative juices flow. If you're not sure what happens next, brainstorm options on the page, jot down story ideas, or just put, "I don't know what happens next." Keep going and ideas will come.

Character arc

There are several different types of character arc in a novel, the 3 most common being:

For this exercise choose either a positive or negative character arc and spend 8 minutes writing a scene from the start of a novel, then 8 minutes writing a scene towards the end of a novel showing how the character has developed between the two points (obviously, we will have to imagine how this change has occurred).

The point here is to capture the essence of a character, as they will be the same, but show their development.

Animal exercise

This is a fun writing activity for a small group. You’ve found a magic potion labelled ‘Cat Chat’ and when you drink it, you turn into whichever animal you’re thinking about; but there’s a problem, it also picks up on the brainwaves of other people near you!

Everyone writes down an animal in secret and then reveals it to the other writers.  The spell will turn you into a creature that combines elements of all the animals.  Each person then spends 5 minutes writing down what happens when they drink the potion.

After the 5 minutes is up, everyone shares their story with the other participants.

If you enjoy this exercise, then you may also want to check out our Fantasy and Sci-Fi writing prompts full of world building, magic, and character development prompts..

I remember

Joe Brainard wrote a novel called:  I Remember It contains a collection of paragraphs all starting with “I remember”.  This is the inspiration for this exercise, and if you’re stuck for what to write, is a great way to get the mental gears turning.  Simply write “I remember” and continue with the first thing that pops into your head.

Spend 5 minutes writing a short collection of “I remember” stories.

Here are a couple of examples from Joe Brainard’s novel:

“I remember not understanding why people on the other side of the world didn't fall off.”

“I remember waking up somewhere once and there was a horse staring me in the face.”

Giving constructive feedback to authors

If you're running a workshop for more experienced adult authors and have at least half an hour, then this is a good one to use (this is the longest exercise on this page, but I felt it important enough to include).

Give each member the option to bring a piece of their own work that should be double spaced and a maximum of 3 pages long. If you're running a workshop where not everyone is likely to bring a manuscript, then ask everyone who wants to bring one to print two copies each (If someone forgets but has a laptop with them, the reader can always use their laptop).

Print out a few copies and hand them around to everyone in the workshop of the guide on: 'How to give constructive feedback to writers'

Each author who brought a sample with them then gives them to one other person to review. They write their name on the manuscript in a certain colour pen, then add any comments to it before passing it to a second person who does the same (commenting on the comments if they agree or disagree).

Then allow 5 minutes for everyone to discuss the feedback they've received, ensuring that they are giving constructive feedback.

Giovanni Battista Manerius - The Five Senses

Painting by Giovanni Battista Manerius -  The Five Senses

Choose a scene and write it for 5 minutes focusing on one sense, NOT sight. Choose between:

Hearing  Taste Smell Touch

This can be internal as well as external (I heard my heartbeat thudding in my ears, or I smelt my own adrenaline).

After the 5 minutes stop and everyone reads it out loud to each other. Now write for another 5 minutes and continue the other person's story, but do NOT use sight OR the sense they used.

You can use any sense to communicate the essentials, just focus on creating emotions and conveying the story with the specific sense(s).

If you need some writing prompts, here are possible scenes that involve several senses:

2 or 3 people

Show don't tell your story

A lot of writing guides will advise you to, "Show, don't tell," but what does this actually mean?

If you want to evoke an emotional reaction from your reader, then showing them what is happening is a great way to do so.  You can do this in several ways:

Split up into pairs and each person writes down a short scene from a story where they "tell" it.  After this, pass the description of the scene to your partner and they then have 5 minutes to rewrite it to "show" what happened.  If there are an odd number of participants, make one group of three, with each person passing their scene clockwise, so everyone has a new scene to show.  After the 5 minutes, for small groups everyone reads their new description to everyone else, or for large groups, each person just reads their new scene to their partner.

Visual writing prompts

World building is the art of conveying the magic of living in a different world, whether it's a spaceship, a medieval castle, a boat, or simply someone's living room. To master world building, it's not necessary to know every intricate detail, rather to convey the experience of what it would be like to live there.

Choose one of the above images as a prompt and spend 10 minutes writing a scene from the perspective of someone who is seeing it for the first time. Now, move your character six months forward and imagine that they've spent the last six months living or working there. Write another scene (perhaps with an additional character) using the image as a background, with the events of the scene as the main action.

Click the above image for a close-up.

Gossiping about a character as if they're a friend.

Easy to gossip with friends about a character

Judy Blume says that she tells her family about her characters as if they’re real people. 

Chris Claremont said, "For me, writing the 'X-Men' was easy - is easy. I know these people, they're my friends." 

Today’s exercise has 2 parts. First, spend 5 minutes jotting down some facts about a character you’ve invented that might come up if you were telling your friends about them. Either choose a character in something you’ve already written, or invent one from scratch now.

Answer the questions:

What are they up to? How are they? What would you say if you were gossiping about them?

Then split up into groups of 4 to 6 writers. 2 volunteers from each group then role-play talking about their character as if they were a friend (perhaps another character in the story).  The other participants will role-play a group of friends gossiping about the character behind their back and ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, invent it!

Degrees of emotion

This is based on an acting game, to help actors understand how to perform with different degrees of emotion.

Ask everyone to write the following 4 emotions:

For groups of 5 or less, write down numbers starting with 1 and going up until everyone has a number, then give them out in order. For groups of 6 or more, divide groups into 3's, 4's or 5's.

Each person has to write a scene where the protagonist is alone and is only allowed to say a single word, e.g. "Banana".  The writer with number 1 should write the scene with a very low level of the emotion (e.g. happiness), number 2 increases the intensity a bit and the highest number writes a scene with the most intense emotion you can possibly imagine.

Once each writer has written about happiness, rotate the numbers one or two spaces, then move onto anger, then fear, then sadness.

It can help to give everyone numbers showing the intensity of the emotions to write about at the start of the exercise, in which case you may wish to print either the Word or PDF file, then use the ones corresponding to 3, 4 or 5 writers.

PDF

Everyone shares their scene with the other course participants.

Kill three birds with one stone

The first paragraph of a surprising number of best-selling novels serves multiple purposes. These are to:

Nearly every chapter in a novel also serves all three purposes. Instead of establishing a goal though, the protagonist either moves towards it, or encounters an obstacle that hinders them from achieving it.

Some books manage to meet all three purposes with their opening lines, for example:  

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

J.K. Rowling ,  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  

A little more than one hundred days into the fortieth year of her confinement, Dajeil Gelian was visited in her lonely tower overlooking the sea by an avatar of the great ship that was her home.

Iain M. Banks ,  Excession  

"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.

George R.R. Martin ,  A Game of Thrones

For this exercise write a sentence or short paragraph that serves all three purposes. If you're already writing a novel, then see if you can do this for the first line in a chapter. If not, choose any combination from the following table:

Valentine's Day Book

In pairs one writer spends a minute or two describing a character they're writing about, or alternatively they can describe a celebrity or someone from a work of fiction.  The next writer then describes their character.

The story is that these 2 characters (or in my case, person and alien, as I'm writing a sci-fi) have accidentally ended up on a blind date with each other, perhaps the waiter seated them in the wrong location, perhaps it's an actual blind date, or perhaps they met in some other fashion that the writers can determine.

Now spend 10 minutes discussing what happens next!

Winning a race

This exercise works best for online groups, via Zoom, for example.  The instructions to give are:

"In a few words describe a success in your life and what it felt like to achieve it. It can be a small victory or a large one."

Share a personal example of your own (mine was watching my homeschooled sons sing in an opera together).

"Once you have one (small or large), write it in the chat.

The writing exercise is then to choose someone else's victory to write about for 10 minutes, as if it was the end of your own book.

If you want to write for longer, now imagine how that book would start, and write the first part of the book with the ending in mind."

In this difficult time, this is great for reminding people of a success in their lives, and also helps everyone connect and discover something about each other.

Dream holiday in France

You’re going on a dream holiday together, but can’t stand conflict, so rather than discuss what you want to do, you’ve decided that each of you will choose a different aspect of the holiday as follows:

Decide who gets to choose what at random, then each of you write down your dream holiday destination/activity/travel/food & clothes in secret.  Next spend 5 minutes discussing your dream holiday and add any other details you’d like to include, particularly if you’re passionate about doing something in real life.

Finally, everyone spends another 5 minutes writing down a description of the holiday, then shares it with the others.

Writing haiku

A haiku is a traditional Japanese form of non-rhyming poetry whose short form makes it ideal for a simple writing exercise.

They traditionally are structured in 3 lines, where the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables again and tend to focus on themes of nature and deep concepts that can be expressed simply.

A couple of examples:

A summer river being crossed how pleasing with sandals in my hands! Yosa Buson , a haiku master poet from the 18 th  Century.

And one of mine:

When night-time arrives Stars come out, breaking the dark You can see the most

Martin Woods

Spend up to 10 minutes writing a haiku.  If you get stuck with the 5-7-5 syllable rule, then don’t worry, the overall concept is more important!

See  How to write a haiku  for more details and examples.

Writing a limerick

Unlike a haiku, which is profound and sombre, a limerick is a light-hearted, fun rhyming verse.

Here are a couple of examples:

A wonderful bird is the pelican. His bill can hold more than his beli-can He can take in his beak Food enough for a week But I'm damned if I see how the heli-can.

Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1910

There was a young lady named Bright, Whose speed was far faster than light; She started one day In a relative way, And returned on the previous night.

Arthur Henry Reginald Buller in  Punch,  1923

The 1 st , 2 nd  and 5 th  line all rhyme, as do the 3 rd  and 4 th  line.  The overall number of syllables isn’t important, but the 3 rd  and 4 th  lines should be shorter than the others.

Typically, the 1 st  line introduces the character, often with “There was”, or “There once was” and the rest of the verse tells their story.

Spend 10 minutes writing a limerick.

Adult time travel

Imagine that your future self as an old man/woman travels back in time to meet you, the adult you are today.  Alternatively, you as a child travels forward in time to meet yourself as an adult.  Or perhaps both happen, so that the child you, adult you, and senior you are all together at the same time.  In story form write down what happens next.

Participants then share their story with other writers either in small groups, or to the whole group.

Solo exercise

Describing a character

One challenge writers face is describing a character and a common mistake is to focus too much on the physical features, e.g. "She had brown eyes, curly brown hair and was five foot six inches tall."

The problem with this is that it doesn't reveal anything about the character's personality, or about the relationship between your protagonist and the character and your reader is therefore likely to quickly forget what someone looks like.  When describing characters, it's therefore best to:

Here are 3 examples of character descriptions that leave no doubt how the protagonist feels.

“If girls could spit venom, it'd be through their eyes.” S.D. Lawendowski,  Snapped

"And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war." Maggie Stiefvater,  The Dream Thieves

"His mouth was such a post office of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling." Charles Dickens

Spend 5 minutes writing a character introduction that is animated, uses metaphors or similes and involves your protagonist.

If working with a group, then form small groups of 3 or 4 and share your description with the rest of the group.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

Onomatopeai, rhyme or alliteration.

Today's session is all about sound.

Several authors recommend reading your writing out loud after you've written it to be sure it sounds natural.   Philip Pullman  even goes as far as to say:

"When I’m writing, I’m more conscious of the sound, actually, than the meaning. I know what the rhythm of the sentence is going to be before I know what the words are going to be in it."

For today's exercise, choose the name of a song and write for 10 minutes as if that's the title for a short story. Focus on how your writing sounds and aim to include at least one onomatopoeia, rhyme or alliteration.  At the end of the 10 minutes, read it out loud to yourself, or to the group.

Alliterations

An alliteration example from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea.

Onomatopoeias

Buzz, woof, quack, baa, crash, purr, beep, belch,...

alphabet story

This is a novel way to write a story as a group, one word at a time.  The first person starts the story that begins with any word starting with “A”, the next person continues the story with a word starting with “B”, and so on.

Keep going round until you have completed the alphabet.  Ideally it will all be one sentence, but if you get stuck, start a new sentence.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t make complete sense!

It can be tricky to remember the alphabet when under pressure, so you may wish to print it out a couple of times, so the storytellers can see it if they need to, this is particularly helpful if you have dyslexics in the group.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Here’s an example of an alphabet story:

A Band Can Dance Each Friday, Ghostly Hauntings In Jail Kill Lucky Men, Nobody Or Perhaps Quiet Rats, Still That Unifies Villains Who X-Ray Your Zebras.

As I mentioned, it doesn’t need to make sense!

Small or large groups

1 or 2 questions

The standard format in our group is a short writing exercise followed by an hour and a half of silent writing on our projects.

At one point I felt like we'd done a lot of small group exercises, and wanted to gain an insight into what everyone was working on, so we did the following exercise instead:

Go round the table and ask everyone to briefly talk about their writing.  Each person then asks one or two yes/no questions.

Everyone responds either by raising their hand for 'yes' or shaking their heads for 'no'. You can also leap up and down to indicate a very strong 'yes'.

Questions can be about anything, and you can use them either to help guide your writing or to help find other people in the group who have similar interests.

Here are some random examples you might ask:

This works best when you give participants some advance notice, so they have time to think of a question.

Groups of 3 or 4

Murder mystery

This exercise takes 20-30 minutes and allows participants to create a murder mystery outline together.

Phase 1 (3 minutes)

Phase 2 (10 minutes).

Each person then writes a police report as if they are either describing the scene of the crime, or recording the notes from their interview with a single suspect:

Write the following:

Write the following (from the perspective of the investigator):

Phase 3 (5 minutes)

See more ideas on  creating murder mystery party games

Obscure movie

Pick a famous movie and spend 5 minutes writing a scene from it from an unusual perspective.  Your aim is to achieve a balance between being too obscure and making it too obvious.  Feel free to add internal dialogue.

At the end of the 5 minutes, everyone reads their movie scene to the others and all the other participants see if they can guess what the movie is.

How to hint at romantic feelings

Write a scene with 2 people in a group, where you hint that one is romantically interested in the other, but the feelings aren’t reciprocated.

The goal of this exercise is to practice subtlety. Imagine you are setting a scene for the future where the characters feelings will become more important. Choose a situation like a work conference, meeting with a group of friends, etc. How do you indicate how the characters feel without them saying it in words?

Some tips for hinting at romantic feelings:

Novel idea

Take it in turns to tell everyone else about a current project that you’re working on (a book, screenplay, short story, etc.)

The other writers then brainstorm ideas for related stories you could write, or directions your project could take.  There are no right or wrong suggestions and the intention is to focus on big concepts, not little details.

This whole exercise takes around 15 minutes.

Exercise for groups of 3-5

Creative writing

If you're in larger group, split up into groups of 3 or 4 people.

Everyone writes the first line of a story in the Zoom chat, or on paper. Other people can then choose this line as a writing prompt.

For this exercise:

Once everyone's written a prompt, everyone chooses a prompt (preferably someone eles's, but it can be your own if you feel really inspired by it.)  Then write for 10 minutes using this prompt. See if you can reveal who the protagonist is, what their motivation is (it can be a small motivation for a particular scene, it doesn't have to be a huge life goal), and introduce at least one new character.

Take turns reading out your stories to each other.

Creative story cards for students

Cut up a piece of paper and write one word on each of the pieces of paper, as follows:

Give each participant a couple of pieces of paper at random.  The first person says the first sentence of a story and they must use their first word as part of that sentence.  The second person then continues the story and must include their word in it, and so on.  Go round the group twice to complete the story.

You can also do this creative writing exercise with story dice, your own choice of words, or by asking participants to write random words down themselves, then shuffling all the cards together.

Alternative Christmas Story

Every Christmas adults tell kids stories about Santa Claus. In this exercise you write a Christmas story from an alternative dimension.

What if every Christmas Santa didn't fly around the world delivering presents on his sleigh pulled by reindeer? What if gnomes or aliens delivered the presents? Or perhaps it was the gnomes who are trying to emulate the humans? Or some other Christmas tradition entirely that we humans have never heard of!

Group writing exercise

If you're working with a group, then give everyone a couple of minutes to write 2 possible themes for the new Christmas story. Each theme should be 5 words or less.

Then simply shuffle the paper and distribute them at random (or everyone types the themes into a Zoom or group chat, if you're working online). Everyone then spends 10 minutes writing a short story for children based on one of the two themes, or their own theme if they really want to.

If working alone, choose your own theme and spend 15 minutes writing a short story on it. See if you can create the magic of Christmas from another world!

Murder Mystery mind map

In a murder mystery story or courtroom drama, there's often conflicting information and lots of links between characters and a mind map is an ideal way to illustrate how everything ties together.

Split into groups of 3 or 4 people each and place a blank piece of A3 paper (double the size of A4) in the middle of each group. Discuss between you who the victim is and write their name in the middle of the piece of paper. Then brainstorm information about the murder, for example:

Feel free to expand out from any of these, e.g. to include more information on the different characters involved.

The idea is that  everyone writes at the same time!   Obviously, you can discuss ideas, but anyone can dive in and write their ideas on the mind map.

New Year’s resolutions for a fictional character

List of ideas for a fictional character

If you’re writing a piece of fiction, asking yourself how your protagonist would react to an everyday situation might help you to gain a deeper insight into who they are.

One way to do this is to imagine what their New Year’s resolutions would be!

If completing this exercise with a group, limit it to 3 to 5 resolutions per person and if some participants are non-fiction writers, they can instead pick a celebrity and either write what their resolutions  will  be, or what their resolutions  should  be, their choice.

Verb Noun Fiction Exercise (Inspired by Stephen King)

List of ideas for a fictional character

Stephen King said, "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

He also said, "Take any noun, put it with any verb, and you have a sentence. It never fails. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Mountains float. These are all perfect sentences. Many such thoughts make little rational sense, but even the stranger ones (Plums deify!) have a kind of poetic weight that’s nice."

In this fiction writing exercise, start by brainstorming (either individually or collectively) seven verbs on seven different pieces of paper. Put those aside for later. Now brainstorm seven nouns. Randomly match the nouns and verbs so you have seven pairs. Choose a pair and write a piece of fiction for ten minutes. Avoid using any adverbs.

It’s the end of the world

End of the world

It’s the end of the world!  For 5 minutes either:

If working as a team, then after the 5 minutes is up each writer reads their description out to the other participants.

7 Editing Exercises

For use after your first draft

Editing first draft

I’ve listened to a lot of masterclasses on writing by successful authors and they all say variants of your first draft won’t be good and that’s fine. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman summarise it the best:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  

Terry Pratchett

“For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonising over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed… For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.”

Neil Gaiman

Once you’ve written your first draft, it will need editing to develop the plot, enhance the characters, and improve each scene in a myriad of ways – small and large. These seven creative editing exercises are designed to help with this stage of the process.

The First Sentence

Read the first paragraph of the novel, in particular the first sentence. Does it launch the reader straight into the action? According to On Writing and Worldbuilding by Timothy Hickson, “The most persuasive opening lines are succinct, and not superfluous. To do this, it is often effective to limit it to a single central idea… This does not need to be the most important element, but it should be a central element that is interesting.” Ask yourself what element your opening sentence encapsulates and whether it’s the best one to capture your readers’ attention.

Consistency

Consistency is crucial in creative writing, whether it’s in relation to location, objects, or people.

It’s also crucial for personality, emotions and motivation.

Look at scenes where your protagonist makes an important decision. Are their motivations clear? Do any scenes force them to choose between two conflicting morals? If so, do you explore this? Do their emotions fit with what’s happened in previous scenes?

As you edit your manuscript, keep the characters’ personality, emotions and motivation in mind. If their behaviour is inconsistent, either edit it for consistency, or have someone comment on their strange behaviour or be surprised by it. Inconsistent behaviour can reveal that a character is keeping a secret, or is under stress, so characters don’t always need to be consistent. But when they’re not, there has to be a reason.  

Show Don’t Tell One

This exercise is the first in The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass. It’s a writing guide with a plethora of editing exercises designed to help you reenergize your writing by thinking of what your character is feeling, and giving you the tools to make your reader feel something.  

Show Don’t Tell Two

Search for the following words in your book:

Whenever these words occur, ask yourself if you can demonstrate how your characters feel, rather than simply stating it. For each occasion, can you use physiological descriptors (a racing heart), actions (taking a step backwards) or dialogue to express what’s just happened instead? Will this enhance the scene and engage the reader more?

After The Action

Find a scene where your characters disagree – in particular a scene where your protagonist argues with friends or allies. What happens next?

It can be tempting to wrap up the action with a quick resolution. But what if a resentment lingers and mistrust builds? This creates a more interesting story arc and means a resolution can occur later, giving the character development a real dynamic.

Review how you resolve the action and see if you can stretch out the emotions for a more satisfying read.

Eliminating the Fluff

Ensure that the words used don’t detract from the enormity of the events your character is going through. Can you delete words like, “Quite”, “Little”, or “Rather”? 

Of “Very” Florence King once wrote: “ 'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen .” Delete it, or replace the word after it with a stronger word, which makes “Very” redundant.

“That,” is another common word used in creative writing which can often be deleted. Read a sentence as is, then reread it as if you deleted, “That”. If the meaning is the same, delete it.

Chapter Endings

When talking about chapter endings, James Patterson said, “At the end, something has to propel you into the next chapter.”

Read how each of your chapters finish and ask yourself does it either:

Review how you wrap up each of your chapters. Do you end at the best point in your story? Can you add anticipation to cliff hangers? Will you leave your readers wanting more?  

The editing exercises are designed to be completed individually.

With the others, I've always run them as part of a creative writing group, where there's no teacher and we're all equal participants, therefore I keep any 'teaching' aspect to a minimum, preferring them to be prompts to generate ideas before everyone settles down to do the silent writing. We've recently gone online and if you run a group yourself, whether online or in person, you're welcome to use these exercises for free!

The times given are suggestions only and I normally get a feel for how everyone's doing when time's up and if it's obvious that everyone's still in the middle of a discussion, then I give them longer.  Where one group's in the middle of a discussion, but everyone else has finished, I sometimes have a 'soft start' to the silent writing, and say, "We're about to start the hour and a half of silent writing now, but if you're in the middle of a discussion, feel free to finish it first".

This way everyone gets to complete the discussion, but no-one's waiting for ages.  It's also important to emphasise that there's no wrong answers when being creative.

Still looking for more? Check out these  creative writing prompts , or our dedicated  Sci-Fi and Fantasy creative writing prompts .

If you've enjoyed these creative writing exercises, please share them on social media, or link to them from your blog.

Creative writing games

Writing prompts for adults

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50 fun group writing exercises

Group writing exercises you can do with your writing circle or critique group are a fun ice-breaker and a way to get creative ideas flowing. Read 50 ‘fill in the blank’ creative writing prompts.

50 fun group writing exercises | Now Novel

‘Fill in the blank’ writing exercises are fun to do in a group. Writing exercises with some set parameters highlight the diverse, interesting ways different writers interpret and respond to the same prompts. Try one of 50 ‘fill in the blank’ creative writing prompts below, and share your creativity in the comments or tag @NowNovel if sharing your version on social media.

The group writing exercises

The first prompt was a prompt for a contest to win a place on our Group Coaching writing course .

Contest prompt

Fill in the blanks Now Novel group coaching contest

Every year, I’d made a resolution not to ever __ again. Yet by January 20th I’d already __ and __.

Entries were voted on blind by a panel of four from the Now Novel team, and the winner was Ethan Myers with this entry:

Writing contest winner - Ethan Myers entry

Here are 49 more prompts to enjoy and stimulate creative ideas:

Writing exercises featuring scene-setting

On leaving As soon as I turned 18, I left__. It was a town of__and__ .

On arrival I walked through the arched entryway and my jaw dropped. Everywhere you looked there were__. Marco Polo himself could never have imagined__.

The first time It was my first ever flight. I was__. Then a__ sat down next to me, turning to me and asking, “__?”

Compare and contrast My hometown was__. When I got to__, a college town, the first thing I noticed was__.

Use the senses The minute you entered, you could smell __. Paired with the sound of __, it was unmistakably home.

Be specific The home we’d rented for the holidays was neither__ nor__, contrary to the listing. Yet my younger brother was delighted when we found__.

Build a bucket list I’d always wanted to go to__. I’d read so much about its__, though nothing had prepared me for__.

Create a world In the books I had read as a kid, portals were gateways to worlds where __. Yet here, I was surprised to find a__.

Outside/inside Outside, the sounds of__ filled the air__. Yet inside, the 19th Century __was like another world, full of strange __.

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Group writing exercises featuring conflict

Lovers’ quarrel We thought it would be a romantic getaway to Rome. Then__. By the end of the day, hot and fed up, we__.

A troubling lookout He climbed the watchtower, yet when he turned to the window, what he saw made him tremble.__.

The duel Many had said that if they were ever to duel, no two could be more equally matched. But what his opponent didn’t know was__.

Alien invasion In alien movies, they always blew up The White House or__. So he hadn’t expected to be toe to toe with an extraterrestrial having a screamed debate about__.

An assassin As the most skilled contract killer in the kingdom, she knew how to__. Yet nobody knew that she__.

Warring nations It started with a trade embargo. Then the president said that our neighbors’ president was a __ with a __. Next thing we knew, __.

Difficult decisions I couldn’t decide whether to__ or to__, but it was 4:45 pm and the last train was leaving in five minutes.

Writing exercises using dialogue

Secrets and lies “I never__,” he said. Yet I knew he was lying because__.

Surprises “Guess what I have behind my back?” she said. “__?” I guessed. “No!” She held out__.

Confessions “I didn’t know how to tell you this … I__.” “I’m glad you told me, now we can__.”

Embarrassing family “Your son is very talented, Mr Jones,” the__ said. “You say that now. You should have seen when he was 9. He__ and we were told that__.”

Thinking aloud “You should__.” “What did you just say?” “Did I just say that out loud? I was thinking about__.”

Know-it-all “Bet you didn’t know__,” he gloated. “Bet you didn’t know__,” I clapped back, full sass.

Bad bard “Shall I compare thee-“ I married a thespian. “Shall I compare you to __?” I rolled my eyes.

Writing exercises using simile and metaphor

Wild reactions His face was as __ as a__ after the bug bite and we were all a bit worried.

Comparing the moon The moon is a__ tonight, its thin crescent glowing like a__.

Making abstraction specific My anxiety is like a__ on the first day of school. A__ with a __.

Sound and simile The first minutes the orchestra was like a __, the music shimmering like __. But in the allegro the principal violinist’s string broke and the conductor__.

Describing emotions Fear is a__ with a__.

Describing the human voice He had a voice like__, like a__ echoing in a __.

Degrees of comparison The mysterious drink they prepared was sweeter than__. But sweeter still was__.

Fill in the blanks writing exercise - use the senses | Now Novel

Writing exercises using different POVs

Fugitive I had run all night, adrenaline keeping fatigue at bay. When I saw__ as dawn broke, I knew__.

Collective They had ways of dealing with dissent. If you dared to go against the clan, you would be__, God help you.

The reader as reader You decide to go to the library. You want to read a book about__. The librarian raises an eyebrow as they run the barcode scanner. “__?” They ask, as you blush.

The group as one That summer, we__ until we couldn’t__. We were all in our twenties, and the days were__.

Writing exercise using different moods of the verb

Future perfect tense, indicative mood In several years’ time, she will have changed, our__ changing like__.

Present tense, potential mood “They may change their minds,” the King says, scowling, “or else we may have to__ and__.”

Future tense, subjunctive mood If I should__, then tell everyone I never__.

[See a helpful explanation of verb moods and tenses in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft . ]

Writing exercises from creating blanks in books

Colum McCann – Let the Great World Spin We had a short driveway full of__. If we crossed the road, we could stand on__ and__.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Love in the Time of Cholera He had returned from a long stay in Paris, where he__, and from the time he set foot on solid ground he__.

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake Jimmy’s earliest complete memory was of a huge__. He must have been five, maybe six. He was wearing__.

Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway Her only gift was__. If you put her in a room with some one, up went her back like a cat’s; or she__.

Italo Calvino – The Complete Cosmicomics I thought only of the Earth. It was the Earth that caused each of us to__.

David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day When painting proved too difficult, I turned to__, telling myself__.

Eva Hoffman – Lost in Translation The library is located in a__ street, in an ancient building, which one enters through a__. It is Plato’s cave, Egyptian temple, the space of__.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun Richard said little at the parties Susan took him to. When she introduced him, she always added__. But they were pleasant to him; they would be to__.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught__.

Colson Whitehead – The Zone The reunions were terrific and rote, early tutelage in the recursive nature of human experience. “__?” the girlfriends asked as they padded in bearing__, and he’d say “__”.

Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible Once every few years, even now, I catch the scent of__. It makes me want to keen, sing,__.

Jorge Luis Borges – Labyrinths He opened a drawer of the black and gold desk. He faced me and in his hands he held__.

Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into the company of a__, a real__.

Build focus and a steady writing routine, and get help from experienced coaches and editors while connecting with other writers on our 6-month Group Coaching course (starts 17th January). Learn more and save with early access until January 3rd.

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

6 replies on “50 fun group writing exercises”

These exercises look like fun!

Sometimes there comes a point when you can’t think of anything worth writing. I guess every writer will know what I mean. But with these templates, I can get some inspiration and share whole stories with my friends.

Thank you, Jordan.

Hi Daisy, I’m glad that you found these ideas inspiring, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

I love these! They’re inspiring (although I want to cheat and use them as-is). Lots of material for future fun 😉

Hi Margriet, thank you! I’m glad you find these writing exercises fun. We can share fill-in-the-blank exercises in the challenge group, that’s another idea.

Thankyou Jordan for these great points.

It’s a pleasure, Dave. Thank you for reading our blog.

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11 Creative Writing Exercises To Awaken Your Inner Author

I believe there’s a writer inside of all of us.

Even if you don’t think you write well, you do have something to say.

You have a story to tell, knowledge to impart , and experiences to share.

You’ve lived a full life that’s packed with observations and adventures, and you shouldn’t exit this Earth without chronicling them in some way.

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction , your life is the laboratory for creating a great book or story.

If you can talk, you can write — even if you need to brush up on grammar and spelling. You’ll naturally become a better writer the more you write.

You’ll learn how to organize ideas, make smooth transitions, and expand your vocabulary.

Reading also improves your writing , so if you have the tiniest desire to write well, read a wide variety of books in different genres.

You can accelerate your writing competence with some simple  writing exercises .

Your inner creative muscle needs exertion to stay fit and strong — but writing exercises don’t need to be drudgery.

They can be fun and exciting as you see how much creative juice you have just waiting to be squeezed.

These creative exercises should be practiced without self-judgment, inner filters, or concern about what a reader might think.

The purpose is to allow your creative mind complete freedom to cut loose.

You don’t have to show these writing exercises to anyone if you don’t want to.

It’s a good weekly practice engage in writers exercises to what catches your imagination and awakens your inner author .

1. Answer 3 questions.

2. write a letter to your younger self., 3. use writing prompts., 4. write about your expertise. , 5. write a stream of consciousness page., 6. write a story told to you., 7. pretend to be someone else. , 8. write about something or someone who changed your life., 9. describe your surroundings., 10. pick a number., 11. describe a dream of yours — or the life of your dreams., what are creative writing exercises.

“Perfect” writers don’t exist. Even Ernest Hemingway and Alice Walker honed the craft right up to their waning days. Growth, improvement, and experimentation are the clarion calls of professional and aspiring scribes. And those who succeed put in the work.

That’s where creative writing exercises come in, as they’re designed to help you play with words in a non-judgmental environment.

Common “craft-sharpening” writing games and tools include:

Serious writers — and people serious about becoming better writers — are perpetually composing pieces that will never see the light of day. But just as a tennis player hits thousands of serves during practice sessions, writers scribe thousands of short language exercises. To continue the sports analogy: Writing exercises are the equivalent of an athlete stretching before a game or match.

How These Exercises Can Make You a Better Writer 

At first explanation, writing exercises may sound a tad tedious. But people who do them improve by leaps and bounds. 

For starters, it all comes down to the human brain’s wiring. In short, every thought and idea we have is conducted by electrical impulses that torpedo around our nervous systems. When we practice something, the associated “circuits” grow myelin, a biological cushion that protects nerves. The added shielding optimizes the relevant electrical paths, rendering them more efficient. 

In other words: The more you do something, the better you’ll get. It doesn’t matter if you have an IQ of 80 or 180. Practice yields results. With writing, the more you do it, the better work you’ll produce. 

Specifically, creative prose lessons also:

Here are 11 creative writing exercises to get you started:

In this exercise, you’ll use three questions to stimulate creative thought. You can write these questions yourself, but I’ll give you some examples to show you what to do.

You want to answer the questions as quickly as you can, with whatever ideas pop into your mind.

Write as much or as little as you wish, but just allow the words to flow without pondering too much what you want to say.

In this exercise, you are writing to yourself at a younger age. It can be your childhood self or yourself just a few years back.

man at coffee house with laptop creative writing Exercises

You can offer advice, compassion, explanation, forgiveness, or praise.

Or you can simply recount an experience you had and how it impacted you as your adult self now.

Try to see this younger self as a real and separate person when you write the letter. This exercise helps you think about your reader as a real person with emotions — a person who can be moved and inspired by your writing.

Again, try not to overthink this exercise. Spend a few minutes deciding the core message of the letter, and then just start writing without filters.

A writing prompt is an idea that jumpstarts the writing process.

The prompt can be a short sentence, a paragraph, or even a picture, but the purpose is the same — to ignite your creativity so you’ll begin writing.

Writing prompts can help you when you feel stuck while writing your book.

If you take ten minutes to work on a writing prompt, you can go back to your book writing primed to get down to business. It stimulates ideas for a writer and releases the creative process.

Here are a few prompts you can use:

Think about something you know how to do well. It can be anything from washing the dishes to selling stocks.

Write a few paragraphs (or more if you wish) explaining some aspect of how to do what you do.

Assume your reader is completely ignorant about the subject.

This writing shouldn’t sound like a dry instruction manual. Try to write in a conversational style, as though you’re verbally explaining the process.

Break down the steps in a way that makes the reader understand exactly what to do, without using business jargon or buzzwords.

This is an easy and fun exercise. You want to write it in longhand rather than typing on your computer, as handwriting slows down the process and allows more time for your creative brain to do its work.

Grab a pen and blank pad and simply start writing. Write down whatever comes into your brain, no matter how nonsensical or disjointed.

man using quill to write creative writing Exercises

There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages — they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

In this exercise, you want to recount a story told to you by another person.

It can be a story one of your parents or grandparents shared about something that happened many years ago, or it can be a more recent event a friend or family member recounted.

Or you can tell a story you learned in school or through reading about a well-known person or event.

The story can be funny, sad, or educational — but it should be interesting, entertaining, or engaging in some way.

Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, readers love stories.  They enjoy relating to the lives and experiences of other people.

When you share stories in your writing, you humanize your writing and take your readers on a small journey.

In this exercise, you’ll practice writing from another person’s perspective. You can choose a person you know well, or you can write from the point of view of an imagined character.

Put yourself in this person’s shoes, see things through their eyes, and react the way they would react.

Choose one situation, encounter, or setting, and write what you see, hear, think, and feel about the scenario. Get inside of this person’s brain, and try to be as descriptive as possible.

You can write a paragraph or several pages if you’re inspired.

In this exercise, rather than telling the story of someone else or pretending to be another person, you want to share your story from your perspective.

Write about a person or event that has profoundly impacted you and changed your life.

Rather than simply recounting the situation, talk about how it made you feel, what your reactions were, and how you were changed on the inside as well as the outside.

Pour your heart into this writing. Remember, you don’t have to show it to anyone, so be completely vulnerable and real in this exercise.

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17 Things to Write About For Your Next Nonfiction Book

Simply write a paragraph or two about your surroundings.

You can write in first person (“I am sitting at my desk, which is littered with papers and old coffee cups.”), or write in third person, simply describing what you see (“The room is bleak and empty except for one old wooden chair.”).

Challenge yourself to use descriptive language to set the scene.

grayscale photo of man trying to writing creative writing Exercises

Rather than saying, “The light is shining through the window,” you might say, “The morning sun is streaming through the window, spotlighting a million dancing dust particles and creating mottled shadows on my desk.”

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction , you want to write intriguing descriptions that invite the reader into the setting so they can “see” what you see.

Even numbers can serve to inspire writing. This exercise combines numbers with something else you probably have at your disposal.

Pick a random number between 1 and 30. We’ll call it number n. Then look to your bookshelf (real or virtual) and choose the nth book.

( Note: If you have more than 30 books on your shelf, you can choose a bigger number).

Then you’d open that book to the nth page and go to the nth sentence on that page.

Write that sentence down and make it the first sentence of a new freewriting exercise. Just write whatever comes to mind for the next sentence and the one after that, and so on.

Write at least as many sentences as the number you chose.

Think of a dream you remember and describe it in as much detail as you can recall.

From there, you can take that dream and turn it into a story or play with possible interpretations — serious or just for fun.

Or you can write about the life you dream of living. Describe a perfect day in that life, from the time you wake up to the time you lie back down.

Describe the home in which you live or the places you want to go. Imagine you’re living there in the locale of your choice for as long as you wish.

Don’t bother trying to make it sound realistic.

Just let the words flow, and enjoy the ride. Part of the fun of learning how to practice writing fiction is letting your imagination take over — without any heckling from your inner editor.

No matter how experienced you are as a writer, you can always improve and tap deeper into the wellspring of your own creativity. You can always learn new ways to express yourself and delight your reader.

View these writing exercises as a means to opening doors of insight and imagination and enjoy the process of becoming a better writer.

I believe there's a writer in all of us. Try these 11 creative writing exercises to see what catches your imagination and awakens your inner author. #writing #writingtips #writingcommunity #writingprompts #writinginspiration #author #amwriting #selfpublishing

Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies

Publisher description.

Turn your inspiration into a story with clear, expert guidance Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies is a step-by-step creative writing course designed to hone your craft, regardless of ability. Written by the founder of the Complete Creative Writing Course at London's Groucho Club, this activity-based guide walks you through the process of developing and writing in a wide range of genres including novels, short stories and creative nonfiction. The book includes writing prompts, exercises, mind maps, flow charts and diagrams designed to get your ideas flowing. You'll get expert guidance into character development, plot structure and prose, plus extensive insight into self-editing and polishing your work. Whether you're a new writer with a seed of an idea you would like to develop, or are looking to strengthen your creative writing skills, this book has you covered. Covering every aspect of narrative, from setting initial goals to formatting a manuscript, Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies provides the tools and instruction you need to make your story the best it can be. Learn to spark your imagination and sketch out ideas Create compelling characters and paint a picture with description Develop your plot and structure and maintain continuity Step back from your work and become your own ruthless editor The rise of e-books has opened up the publishing world, even to non-established writers. If you have a story you're dying to tell but aren't sure how, Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies is the clear, concise solution you need.

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Handwriting Practice Book for Kids Ages 5-9: Penmanship workbook with Silly Sentences, Jokes & Riddles, Sight Words, and Creative Writing Exercises.: For Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Grade

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The Exercise Book: Creative Writing Exercises from Victoria University`s Institute of Modern Letters

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paperback. Condition: New. Paperback. Pub Date :2014-06-01 Pages: 132 Publisher: China Renmin University Press. writing can be fun! Writing Magic book: fun creative writing exercises (Creative Writing book series (Youth Edition)) a collection of 26 creative writing exercises. each with a specific writing guide. The book is divided into four parts: freelance writing. stimulate creativity. story writing. reading between the lines. Each exercise is a game about writing. it can surprise you. bring you joy. bring you touche.

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Creative Writing Exercises To Enhance Your Writing

Novel writing ,

Creative writing exercises to enhance your writing.

Emma-Claire Wilson

By Emma-Claire Wilson

No matter how many books you have written, or how many Sunday Times Best-selling novels you produce, you will never stop learning how to write.

The writing process is also an ongoing learning process.

During my entire writing journey so far, the one piece of advice that has always stuck is; ‘Never ever stop learning your craft. Never think you know it all, be ready and willing to be surprised.’

But how do you continue to learn without going on constant courses or going back to education? What do you have to do to improve your writing skills and become a better writer ?

In this article, I’m going to highlight just ONE of the skills I embrace regularly to help me learn and grow as a writer; I start every writing day with a creative writing exercise.

I will also explain why and how creative writing exercises can benefit your writing and even give a few examples of the fun writing activities that have helped me over the years.

So let’s get started.

What Are Creative Writing Exercises?

Essentially, creative writing exercises are short bursts of creative writing, generally improvisational, that get the creative juices flowing.

They can range from consciousness writing, to penning short stories or prose in poetry forms to practice writing. The medium, length, and content are not important, all that matters is unlocking your creativity, inspiring story ideas , and increasing confidence.

Why Are Writing Prompts And Exercises Helpful?

How often have you sat in front of a blank piece of paper, knowing you need to get the words down…but can’t? You can hear all the voices, you know all the plot, and you have even worked out the story beats, but the words won’t come.

Well, you’re not alone.

This happens to every writer at some point or other. Luckily, there’s no need to panic, because to get back into the flow again all you have to do is rummage around in your writer toolbox and find the right key to unlock the right door.

And that key is to have a go at some writing exercises and story prompts!

The creative writing exercises I’m about to suggest don’t ever need to be seen by a single soul, they never have to find their way into your final draft (but if they do, that’s a happy bonus), and they don’t even need to make sense or follow the same voice or genre of what you are writing.

The entire point of creative writing exercises is to spark ideas in your mind, leading to a flood of words on the page.

What Makes A Good Creative Writing Exercise?

Writing prompts and exercises shouldn’t take long. In fact, the beauty of them is that they quickly become part of your working day. They can be something you do first thing in the morning – like brushing your teeth or having a shower. Or how you spend your evenings once the daily chores are done.

Think of them as the warm-up before a run. A good warm-up will get your muscles moving and ready for the race, but you don’t spend three hours warming up before you run a one-hour race, do you?

The very best writing exercises should be:

If you find yourself spending hours on a writing exercise, ask yourself whether you are perhaps using it as an excuse to not work on the project that you need to get back to. And if you are, ask yourself whether perhaps you should be starting a new project that you actually enjoy doing.

So let’s get started. Let’s take a look at my top ten writing exercises and prompts that never fail to get me out of my writing rut!

creative-writing-exercise

Creative Writing Exercises To Try Today

It’s important to remember that you don’t only have to use creative writing exercises when you are ‘blocked’.

If you’re in-between projects and just want to keep those muscles active, then why not play around with brand new characters and entirely new ideas? You never know, some of these creative writing exercises may even inspire your next novel.

The best thing about writing exercises is that there are no rules, they are simply a chance to let your brain free fall and see what comes out the other side.

I spoke to many fellow authors about their own favourite tips and writing prompts before writing this article. I was inundated with responses, with many of them sharing tips on what they do when they feel stuck, how they get to know their main characters, and general good practise techniques to become a better writer.

I’ve sifted through the hundreds of examples I was given, and put together my own personal top ten writing exercises for you to try…

1: Interview Your Main Character

Helps with: Finding the hidden secrets of your protagonist

Have one of your smaller ‘bit-part’ characters interview your main character. Answer all questions from the point of view of your main character but.. and this is important… answer honestly! Don’t answer how you as the author want your character to respond, instead, put yourself in your main character’s position and answer how they would in that very moment.

If your cheating husband character is being interviewed by his mother-in-law, how would he speak to her? Would be he honest? Would he be evasive? What does this tell you about his character? What does it tell you about their relationship?

For those who write character sheets , take a look at the questions you asked yourself back in the planning stages and ask questions based on an answer you already know about their past. How would your character reply in the moment and what does that tell you about them?

Or, go one step further, and try the same thing but in a different genre or tense. Write it in the third person, as if you are a spectator telling a person’s story; again in the first person as if you are the interviewer meeting your main character for the first time; and then again from the protagonist’s point of view!

2: Show Don’t Tell

Helps with: Honing your craft

A great exercise that a fellow author highlighted was a classic ‘show don’t tell’ exercise used by many writing courses around the globe.

Write a scene about a very drunk person, without once mentioning that the character is drunk. Using all the senses, see how effectively you can work those ‘show don’t tell’ muscles. Think about setting, descriptive language, and what opening lines work best.

Or perhaps write about your dream house or dream holiday, but without mentioning where they are. See if the reader can guess by your description.

These can be written as flash fiction, a short story or even just a short paragraph.

3: Brain Dump/Free Writing

Helps with: Banishing the mental load/using mental load to find inspiration

Set a timer for three minutes and simply write in a stream of consciousness – no rules, no story beats, no planning, and no post-it notes.

Maybe you’ll start by writing that shopping list that’s been bothering you and find it meanders its way into a diary entry by a frustrated maid.

Or you may start writing your own diary entry and find it merges into the mindset of your main character.

The purpose of free writing is to allow your brain to find the path that it is ready and willing to travel down. Sometimes, writing down whatever random words come to you and banishing all other noise helps you find the ideas that are ready to reveal themselves.

4: Pin The Tail On The Donkey

Helps with: Finding Inspiration

Ok, not literally, this isn’t a game for a children’s party. I am not telling you to draw and cut out a donkey’s tail and blindly roam around the room with a pin in hand!

Instead, close your eyes and pick a random book from your bookshelf. Don’t cheat and pick an easy one… truly let fate guide you here.

Close your eyes again and flick the pages, pick a random page and a random sentence and start from there. That’s your writing prompt for the day – now begin writing.

What does that sentence spark in you? What ideas does it give you? Can you write a story based on that sentence as an opening line?

(If you’re looking for more prompts to use as a jumping off point, try our writing prompts for thrillers , fantasy , romance , horror , poetry , and Christmas stories .)

creative-writing-prompt

5: Postcard Lottery (Part 1)

Helps with: Pushing Boundaries and stepping out of your comfort zone

While on a recent writing retreat, one of the exercises we did really sparked amazing new ideas for future stories.

The exercise is split into two parts.

The first part of this was the Postcard Lottery. Our host had a tall stack of postcards collected from all over; art galleries, museums, local cinemas; some of the most random images you can imagine. We all took a postcard without looking, set a time for 10 minutes, and used the image as inspiration.

(If you don’t have a stack of postcards, you can use online random image generators such as https://randomwordgenerator.com/picture.php .)

6: Postcard Lottery (Part 2)

Following on from the task above, now it was time to take another postcard. But in addition to that new postcard, we were asked to rummage in the bowl filled with slips of paper on which different genres had been written.

This is great for getting any creative writer totally out of their comfort zone!

Suddenly, rom-com writers holding an image of a pretty wildflower were having to imagine that picture as the basis for a murderous thriller story. And horror writers, holding an image of a skull, were having to use it as inspiration for a middle-grade comedy.

If you embrace the randomness and push away all expectations of what you should be writing, it can be quite enlightening and a lot of fun!

7: Have A Break, Have A KitKat

Helps with: Developing those ‘senses’ on the page

One of the best creative exercises you can do is to sit down quietly and eat something. Seriously!

Grab yourself a snack from the kitchen, sit down at your desk, and eat your food mindfully . As you do, write about the snack you’re eating, making sure to use all your senses. The texture and the memories that it may evoke. The smells around you.

Can you make your readers’ mouths water? Or even better, make a reader cry and turn them off a food item for life? 

8: Play Therapist

Helps with: Using personal blockers to push through writer’s block

This one is great for creative writers who are struggling with writer’s block due to personal issues.

Use your pain, your confusion, or your anger in real life to help you flex those writing muscles for good. Take the last argument you had with your partner or a falling out with a family member as a basis, then re-write the story.

Either talk to a therapist on the page about the fight and write responses from both sides (always illuminating, because they are not always going to take your side, forcing you to see events from another point of view) or have the argument with that person over again in a way you would have preferred to resolve it.

creative-writing-prompts

9: Flip The Narrative

Helps with: Pushing past writer’s block and developing deeper characterisation

This exercise is great if you are in the middle of a new draft, but don’t feel like you have a grip on your characters yet.

Take a scene you have already written and flip the narrative. Have the entire scene written from another person’s point of view. It often helps to stand in another person’s shoes to gather a new perspective.

How would they see the same scene played out through their eyes? What does that tell you about the scene that you didn’t know before? What does it highlight that you weren’t previously aware of?

This exercise is incredibly helpful if you’re struggling to get past a plot hole, or grappling with character motivation.  

10: It’s All About The Words

Helps with: Understanding the importance of dialogue

There are two very different ways you can tackle this exercise, depending on the type of writer you are.

You can either:

Again, you can write this is in the third person or from the point of view of one of the characters. See how long they can ‘speak’ without speaking. Have the characters understood each other by the end of the scene? Or has a terrible miscommunication occurred?

Dialogue can be a sticky area for many writers.

Either you really love dialogue and struggle to write description, or it’s the opposite and you love your characters talking to one another but struggle with descriptive writing or moving the plot along.

Either way, pushing past the norm and learning how to use that weakness as a strength can bring about lots of new ideas and plot twists.

Other Forms Of Writing

Although the above exercises are great for getting your creative juices flowing, they are not the only way you can get your writer brain cells working. Sometimes, you need to take a break from what you are used to writing and try something different.

Try stepping away from creative writing and trying your hand at different forms of writing, such as non-fiction.

Write A Blog Post

If you have a blog, write a blog post about something entirely unrelated to your current project. Or, better yet, approach a magazine or someone with a blog and offer to write an article for them. You can choose any subject you like, you can even write about bettering your writing skills, as I am doing right now.

Write A Book Review

There’s nothing writers love more than reading a good book. And there’s nothing authors appreciate more than receiving a great review about their book. So why not get on Goodreads, Netgalley, Amazon, or even your own social media channels, and write a book review.

Having to think about story structure, plot, characterisation and the language other writers have used may even help you with the writing of your own novel!

Write A Poem

Reacquaint yourself with your inner teenager and write an emotional poem about heartbreak, anger, or how unfair the world is. Reflect on your childhood, or process something you’re currently experiencing. Make it as cheesy, vulnerable, or as dark as you want; after all, no one ever needs to read it. The fun is knowing you can write it!

Write Non-Fiction

Write something based on facts. Something you know about. Perhaps a ‘step by step’ guide, or a document all about something you know inside out. Embrace your inner ‘Mastermind’ and be an expert about something for a while on paper.

Or grab a random object, whatever is closest to your left hand side right now, and write about it in great detail.

It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that writing all those words will get your happy writing gears turning. Plus you never know what inspiration it may spark.

creative-exercises-for-writing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of creative writing exercises.

Creative writing exercises have many purposes, it simply depends on where you are on your writing journey.

Writing exercises – whether contemplating the first word of your novel or attempting to write a short scene – can be whatever you need them to be. No matter whether this is the first time you have ever tried to write a story, or if you are already the author of a bestselling book.

Can Writing Exercises And Writing Prompts Make Me A Better Writer?

Fiction writing exercises can and do help hone your craft and teach you new skills to add to your author toolbox.

Daily writing exercises help to keep your brain cells supple and creative and can get you over the fear of the blank page. After all, if you have done free writing for twenty minutes, there will already be words on the page – then all you have to do is slip back into the world you are creating and take it from there.

So, the question should really be, what do you need from your writing exercise to make your own work stand out?

How Can I Improve My Writing Skills?

There is no simple answer to this. The only answer I have ever found helpful is… keep writing!

How many times have you heard the quote “it takes 10,000 hours to become a expert in something” – that means you need to write. A lot. For many, many hours. But choosing or working with writing exercises that push you out of your comfort zone will help shape your writing and give it more depth. Use free and easy writing exercises to start your daily dose of writing and you will find your creativity blossom much quicker.

What Are The Main Examples Of Creative Writing?

Creative writing isn’t just about writing a fiction novel; there are many ways in which you can express yourself creatively. Even if all you do is keep a daily journal, you are still practising the art of descriptive writing.

And, therefore, writing exercises don’t just benefit fiction writers either. No matter what genre you write, or style of writing you prefer, there will always be a writing exercise to suit your needs, you just need to find those that work for you.

Be brave and try as many ways of writing as possible.

There are so many different examples of creative writing , but each have one thing in common… they are creative … so be creative with how you learn your craft, and you will find so much inspiration lurking around the corner.

Time To Get Writing

I hope this article has inspired you to polish your creative writing skills and think outside the box a little. When it comes to storytelling, and getting those words down on paper, the best thing you can do is keep writing.

The doesn’t mean churning out a chapter or two of your novel every day, it doesn’t even mean working on your book every day; it simply means taking ten minutes a day to speed write, or try some writing prompts, fill in your daily journal, or work on a particular scene.

And the beauty of writing like this is that even if what you have written is never read by anyone else, and it never appears in your work, you have taken another step towards becoming a better writer than you were yesterday.

And that is what being a great writer is all about!

Jericho Writers is a  global membership group for writers , providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by  signing up to our newsletter . For more writing articles, take a look at our  blog page .

About the author

Emma-Claire Wilson is an author of book club fiction. Born in Scotland, she travelled the world as the child of military parents. Finally, she settled in Southern Spain with her husband, daughters, and rescue dog, Pip. Emma-Claire works as a journalist for English language magazines and newspapers in Spain and in 2015 launched The Glass House Online Magazine. When not writing emotional book club fiction, you can find her by the sea dreaming up new stories, or wrapped in a blanket with a book in her hand. See more on her author website or Twitter .

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13 Creative Writing Exercises: Become a Better Writer

Posted on Mar 10, 2023

by Hannah Lee Kidder

No matter where you are in your writing journey or career, there is always room to grow!

But how do we grow intentionally and in the right ways?

Today we’re going to talk about the fundamental ways that writers improve, and we’re going to try out some fun writing exercises to build your skill level and refine your writing style!

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How to get better at writing

There are a few fundamental ways to get better at writing.

Creative writing exercises are great to loosen up the writing muscles, as a warm-up, to practice specific writing skills, or just as a fun activity when your writing project has you feeling stale.

Here are thirteen exercises you can try to sharpen your writer reflexes! 

13 Creative Writing Exercises

Becoming a better writer can’t be done by just reading and learning. You have to put these things to practice in order to see your own weaknesses as well as where you can improve.

The more you write, the better writer you’ll be.

Here is your list of 13 free creative writing exercises:

1 – write a scene or short story using no adverbs or adjectives.

This exercise trains you to focus on stronger verbs and nouns. I give this exercise to newer writers because they often default to unnecessary adverbs and adjectives as a crutch instead of refining their word choice in core parts of speech.

NOTE: There’s nothing wrong with using adverbs and adjectives effectively! But before you get a hold of your writer’s voice and personal style, they can weaken your writing.

2 – Choose a random object from the room you’re in and write an image-only poem about it

This exercise will let you practice using imagery and specific description without relying on telling

NOTE: Try using senses other than sight! What does the object feel like? Smell like? Maybe even taste like?

3 – Take a story you’ve already written and write it from the point of view of a different character

Writing the same story from a different point of view can give you an understanding of character motivation and perspective.

A story can completely change based on who’s telling it!

4 – Take one of your favorite short stories, either one you’ve written or one you’ve read, and write it in a different genre

For example, take a romance and write it as horror.

This is a super fun exercise, and it lets you practice using tone and perspective! The tone of a story can change the meaning.

5 – Speed-write a story using a writing prompt

Speed-writing helps to release judgment you might put on your stories, allowing for a more natural process. I like to speed-write when I’m stuck on a short story or a particular scene.

REMEMBER: You can always edit and delete anything you write! Don’t be afraid to write with your gut without judging it.

A few writing prompts:

6 – Write a stream of consciousness

A stream of consciousness is a direct transcript of every thought you have. It’s a bit like speed-writing in that you just dump thoughts onto paper without judging them.

Giving yourself the freedom to write without second-guessing it helps to unkink writing blocks.

7 – “Write your dialogue like it’s a script”

This one comes from Gloria Russell, critique professional .

This is more of a writing strategy, but a lot of successful writers, like Jenna Moreci , suggest outlining your dialogue-heavy scenes that way before you flesh it out fully.

Oftentimes, we’ll get so caught up writing descriptions, dialogue tags , and body language cues that it distracts from the important conversation we’re writing. If you can focus on the dialogue itself on the first go, it’s easier to get a natural back-and-forth exchange, then you can write the rest of the scene around it.

8 – Free-write for ten minutes before you begin your writing day

Before athletes train, they warm up. Writing is the same! Loosen and stretch your writer muscles with a ten minute free-write session.It can be a daily journal, a writing exercise, a stream of consciousness, or anything you’d enjoy!

9 – “I like to write a story starting from the resolution and working my way backward”

This exercise is from Micah Klassen , Those Three Words

Writing a story out of order is another way to get a fresh perspective. This exercise can also give you insight on things like story structure , progression, climaxes, conclusions, and countless other story elements.

It’s a way to dissect a story and see how they’re built.

10 – Edit someone else’s writing

Thinking critically about another writer’s work helps you think critically of your own. It is good practice for problem-solving, critical observation, and revision.

You might even glean some inspiration!

11 – Revise the oldest story of yours you can find!

Maybe it’s from college, maybe high school, maybe it’s a story you wrote when you were seven–rewrite it with your current skill and life outlook

This is a helpful, fun exercise. It’s good practice, it’s inspiring to see how far you’ve come as a writer, and you might end up salvaging something into a quality story!

12 – Practice a skill with a short story

Choose a specific writing skill you’re struggling with, or just want more practice in, and write a short story focusing on that skill.

Can’t nail your dialogue? Write a dialogue-heavy short story and edit it until you’re happy with it. Bad at showing instead of telling? Write a scenic short story and focus on writing with compelling imagery and specific details.

Nailing a skill with a short story is quicker and easier than struggling with the same problem throughout longer projects.

13 – Write your MC in a different world/setting

What would your contemporary character do if flung into a science fiction scenario? What would their profession be in a different era of time? What if their socioeconomic status was completely reversed?

This is a good exercise for understanding your character at a more complex level. If you’re struggling to connect with your MC, definitely try out this exercise.

Anytime you feel stuck on a story, it’s great to do a little free-write session changing something up, like in exercises 3, 4, and 11. Sometimes you just need a perspective switch to knock the story loose.

The best way to sharpen specific writing skills is to identify the weakness and write short stories, really digging into that skill. I find it’s helpful to share those stories with other writers so they can give you feedback and let you know if you’re getting better with it.

I hope you found these exercises helpful! Feel free to share anything you’ve written from them in a comment below.

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COMMENTS

  1. 105 Creative Writing Exercises: 10 Min Writing Exercises

    Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don't need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly.

  2. 101 Creative Writing Exercises (Adventures in Writing)

    101 Creative Writing Exercises (Adventures in Writing) Paperback - February 3, 2012 by Melissa Donovan (Author) 143 ratings See all formats and editions Kindle $3.99 Read with Our Free App Paperback $8.99 12 Used from $2.91 9 New from $7.24 101 Creative Writing Exercises takes you on an adventure through the world of creative writing.

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  6. ️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

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    Here are 11 creative writing exercises to get you started: 1. Answer 3 questions. In this exercise, you'll use three questions to stimulate creative thought. You can write these questions yourself, but I'll give you some examples to show you what to do. You want to answer the questions as quickly as you can, with whatever ideas pop into your mind.

  10. Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies

    Written by the founder of the Complete Creative Writing Course at London's Groucho Club, this activity-based guide walks you through the process of developing and writing in a wide range of genres including novels, short stories and creative nonfiction. The book includes writing prompts, exercises, mind maps, flow charts and diagrams designed ...

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    Writing exercises are the surest way to defeat the dreaded blank page. Doing a writing exercise will demolish your excuses for not writing. New ideas will come to you - without you having to 'think them up.' The experience of losing yourself in creativity will become a great new habit.

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    101 Creative Writing Exercises takes you on an adventure through the world of creative writing. Explore different forms and genres by experimenting with fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. ... The book includes writing prompts, exercises, mind maps, flow charts and diagrams designed to get your ideas flowing. You'll get expert guidance ...

  13. 101 Creative Writing Exercises

    101 Creative Writing Exercises takes you on an adventure through the world of creative writing. Explore different forms and genres by experimenting with fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Discover effective writing concepts, tools, and techniques. Create projects you can publish. Ideal for new and experienced writers alike, this book will enlighten and inspire you with exciting new ideas.

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    101 Creative Writing Exercises takes you on an adventure through the world of creative writing. Explore different forms and genres by experimenting with fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Discover effective writing concepts, tools, and techniques.

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    Essentially, creative writing exercises are short bursts of creative writing, generally improvisational, that get the creative juices flowing. They can range from consciousness writing, to penning short stories or prose in poetry forms to practice writing. The medium, length, and content are not important, all that matters is unlocking your ...

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    Creative writing exercises are great to loosen up the writing muscles, as a warm-up, to practice specific writing skills, or just as a fun activity when your writing project has you feeling stale. Here are thirteen exercises you can try to sharpen your writer reflexes! 13 Creative Writing Exercises