Writing Exercises

By Kristen
Updated November 24, 2007

Writing exercises help you polish your writing skills and keep your creative juices flowing even when you're going through a creativity drought.

Be a God

I finally discovered why I would get bored with my stories; I needed something to boost my ego and keep my brain on its toes. I needed to become a god of my own universe. Create your own creatures. Create your own set of physics. Create your own languages. Create your own religion. Be a saint, and make somebody's wildest dreams come true. Dare to go to places that are politically incorrect and socially unacceptable. Take a perfectly nice person and torture them just because you can. Take a ruthless bully and turn him into a king.

Free Writing

Free writing is simply sitting down with a piece of paper and writing whatever pops into your mind. If you think I don't know what to write, then you would write I don't know what to write and elaborate on it. Write about why you don't know what to write or what you wish you could write. If you see an interesting bird or bug fly by, write about it. If something in your life is worrying you, such as money or relationships, write about it. A wonderful thing to do is to keep all of your free writing in a journal / diary, so you can look back on your free writes years later.

Dream Journaling

If you have an interesting dream, no matter how bizarre it is, write it down. Your brain can create amazing things while you sleep.

My grandmother's family had a family dream journal when she was a child, and they loved to sit down and read it together, so it can be a family bonding activity as well.

Eavesdropping

Listen in on other people's conversations. Try doing it in different locations and notice how a conversation in a cafe is often much different than a conversation at a tire service center. Bring your notebook and make sure to write down any interesting words, dialects, or lines.

Dictionary Grab-Bag

Grab a dictionary and open it up to random pages. On each page close your eyes and point to a word on the page. Open your eyes, read the definition, and write down the word. Do this repeatedly (at least 10 times). Then create a story or poem from the collection of words. This will help you build your vocabulary skills and train your brain to make new associations between seemingly unrelated ideas.

Article Inspiration

Flip through a magazine or newspaper and find an article that interests you. Then pretend that you are the person in the article and write about your life.

Picture Inspiration

Find a photograph, painting, or drawing (online, in a magazine, in an old photo album, etc.) and write a story about what you see in the image.

Description Practice

Get out your notebook and pen and start describing your surroundings. What does the air feel like? What does the ground feel like? What do you hear? What do you see? Describe people who walk by. Get specific and don't hesitate to get out the dictionary and thesaurus to improve your vocabulary.

Try Something New

If you normally write novels, try writing a screenplay. If you normally write for adults, try writing for children. If you normally write drama, try writing a comedy.

Use Your Own Life Experiences

Write down all of the embarrassing things that have ever happened to you or that you have done. Write about the sad moments in your life. Write about happy moments in your life. Write about how you felt when you were scared of something? Psychoanalyze yourself (a good self-help or general psychology book will help you here). Knowing the sparkles and shadows of your own personality and life experiences will allow you to better know your characters, and each character will be a little piece of you.

Dialogue Practice

Write a scene using only dialogue. Don't describe anything, except "he said" and "she said." If you want one of your characters to have a southern twang in her voice, you'll have to write the words to reflect that. If you want a character to sound shy and introverted, you'll have to have him talk with as few words as possible.

Point of View Practice

Think of a scene, any scene. Now write that scene in first person point of view. Now write it in second person. Now write it in third. Try having different characters tell the story in first person.

Outline Only

Create an entire scene or story by just outlining it. No prose. No poetry. Just step-by-step descriptions. 1) She jumped off the chair. 2) She fell on the floor. 3) She noticed how hard the floor was.

Read Aloud

Read your own work aloud. Read other writers' works aloud. Read movie scripts aloud. Read your cookbook aloud. Read the instructions on your shampoo bottle aloud. When you read aloud, you are forced to feel how the words fall off your tongue, and you may even find new character voices that you never knew were in you.

Daydream

You don't even have to write it down, but you should make a point to daydream every day. Maybe you'll daydream about your story. Maybe you'll daydream about how your cat secretly cooks scrambled eggs when you're not home. Maybe you'll daydream about things you wish would have happened to you in high school or what would happen if you met up with an old friend or enemy. Just get your brain cranking.

Learn Something New

Watch documentaries. Read non-fiction books and articles. Take a community college class about something you thought you would never use. Expand your knowledge and your stories will be more accurate and realistic, even the stories that are based on bizarre worlds.

List Your Morals and Values

Stories convey themes that teach the reader something about life. What do you want to teach the reader? Think of examples of situations that would teach the message you want to send.

Letters You'll Never Send

Write letters you'll never send to the recipient. Write to ex-lovers, to people who hurt you, people you have died, people you admire but will never meet, historical people, etc.