Creative Writing Exercises

You need to warm-up before you exercise, so why not warm-up before you write with some writing exercises?

A creative writing exercise can be anything that helps you get your ideas onto paper. You can set aside 10 minutes each day or use them when you feel the need. Use your free writing journal to keep all your entries in one place and remember to date them.

Use these exercises to stretch your mind and refer back to them when writers block hits, they might just provide inspiration for your next big story.

Write freely ... no editing required.

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Here are some writing exercises to get you started:

Time Capsule. You have been asked to prepare a time capsule and include things that will tell future generations what life was like in your own time. What will you include? List the items in your journal.

Anagrams. Take a word, rearrange the letters and see what new words you can create from it. Authors often find pen names by making anagrams of their real names. Eg. Paul Peterson (Pete R. Paulson). You can also write an anagram poem by picking a word and starting each line with a letter from the word.

Dictionary Drama. Pick three random words from your dictionary. Write something with these three words in it.

Chance Poetry. Cut out words or headlines from a newspaper or magazine and place them in a box. Give the box a shake and pick words from the box one by one. You can link these words together to make a poem or use them in a short story.

This is me. Write about someone you wanted to be like. Use this opportunity to describe the person in great detail. This might become the main character in your next novel.

Dialogue of Opposites. Write a dialogue between two completely opposite people, for example, Nelson Mandela and Osama Bin Laden. What could they possibly talk about? Would they have anything in common? What questions will they ask each other? Write this dialogue in the form of a script, without description or narrative.

It’s in The News. Newspapers and magazines provide great ideas. Pick an article from a newspaper or magazine and use it to inspire a story or poem. You could also write a letter to the editor in response to the article.

Picture Please. Pick an old photograph or picture in a magazine. Study it for a few moments and write something about it. Who is in the picture? How old are they? Where are the headed? What has just happened to them? Why are they in the picture? What else can you see in the picture that could be important? What about a title?

Rhymed Verse. Pick a family member or famous person and write a few lines of rhymed verse. Let line 1 rhyme with line 2 and line 3 rhyme with line 4 etc.

Name Limerick. Write a name limerick. This is a 5 line poem in which lines 1, 2 and 5 rhyme and lines 3 and 4. For example:

There was a very old uncle,

Whose guitar went plink and bar-runkle.

But he said: “I don’t care,

If my music’s not fair;

I know I’m no Simon & Garfunkel.”

(From Creative Writing Forms and Techniques, Lavonne Mueller & Jerry Reynolds)

Opening Lines.  Page through a book or magazine and pick an opening line. Write this opening line down in your journal and write your own reply eg. You probably have a..., I can remember when....

Doodle Chart. Design a doodle chart about yourself or someone you know in your journal. Make some basic drawings or sketches and label them. People should be able to learn something about you when they look at it.

Like and Dislikes. Make a list of your likes and dislikes in your journal. Use them to write a poem or a short descriptive piece. Keep them updated.

Proverbs and Quotations. Pick a proverb or quotation. Make sure that you understand its meaning and use it to write a story, essay or poem.

What did you do today? Write a paragraph quickly describing the events that have taken place in your day. Use I and them re-write it once again using he/she. Have a look at the two examples; are they different in any way?

Food. Man must eat. Describe the detail in a set table or pick a certain food and use it to inspire a story or poem. Why do people eat certain foods?  Where do people eat? What foods are associated with festive occasions?

Weather. Write about something that you have experienced where weather has played a major part.

Who am I? Write about something without using the exact word. End off the paragraph with the words “Who am I?”When you are finished give it to someone else to read. Do they know what you mean?

For more creating writing exercises pick up a copy of Take Ten For Writers . Bonnie Neubauer has put together 1000 inspiring writing exercises, definitely the most comprehensive list  of writing exercises I have found to date, a worthwhile investment.

Recommended Links

Top creative writing ideas.

How to beat writers block.

More ways to beat writers block.

How to pick the right topic.

Return from writing exercises to the homepage.


Take Ten for Writers: 1000 writing exercises

Creative Writing : Forms and Techniques

The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Beating Writer's Block

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