Writing creatively can be a challenge but there are ways to really hone your skills. I took some creative writing classes in college and those classes actually prompted my risky decision to be a full-time writer. I have tried just about every creative writing exercise out there. Some are great while others haven’t really done much for me. For all my writer pals out there, here are some of my favorite creative writing exercises:
1. “Things I’ve Lost”
This is one of the first creative writing exercises that is usually laid out in creative writing courses. It’s a great way to get your writing flowing and perhaps even find a hidden story from your own experiences.
The exercise: Write out all the “things you’ve lost”, being creative as possible. (MANY writers have found fantastic ideas in this exercise).
The “things you’ve lost” can be physical things or nonphysical things. This works great if you write it out in poetry form as well. See this poem for reference: The Things I’ve Lost by Brian Arundel
2. “Plot Bunnies”
As a writer, I’ve found that there are certain “day dream” plots that have kind of always been in my head. A lot of people refer to these re-occurring ideas as “plot bunnies” and I have to say, it’s a great way to name it.
The Exercise: Write out all those “plot bunnies” that you day dream about but have never written down. Any ideas that have lingered with you for awhile will do. (You’ll be surprised at what you come up with when you really focus on those “day dreams”).
3. “Character Driven Exercises”
I always say there is inspiration everywhere if you are looking for it. I wanted to put these few exercises in one category because they all relate to characters. Sometimes, all you need for a fantastic story is the right character.
Exercise 1: Write down the names of 5-10 people you know. Alongside each name, write down 3-5 major characteristics of the person. (You may have an awesome character right in front of you based off of somebody you know in the real world. This exercise is a great way to come up with character ideas.)
Exercise 2: Write down a “predicament.” Using yourself and those you know, write out how you/they would handle that specific predicament. Bonus points if the way you/they handle it is unexpected.
Exercise 3: Using yourself, create 3 columns. Title them like this: Me, Ideal Me, Opposite me. Create scenarios and write out in those columns how the real you, the ideal you and the opposite of you would respond to those scenarios. (This is a great creative writing exercise to get you thinking about character choices and avoiding always writing what YOU would do in those situations).
Some stories just stick with us. For whatever reason, we are each drawn to different types of stories. You’ve probably at least seen a ton of “re-imagined” stories. It’s quite common to see this done with classic fairy tales. This a great creative writing exercise to do, regardless of which genre you prefer to write in.
The exercise: Take a story that you love and re-imagine it using your own style.
Some examples/Prompts to Use:
- Make a “Horror” Story no longer be scary and instead, turn it into a drama of sorts.
- Take your favorite fairy tale, swap the villain for the protagonist.
- Create a story using the basis of a classic Shakespeare tale set in modern times.
The possibilities are limitless with this creative writing exercise! Go wild!
5. “Partial Truth”
This is probably one of my favorite creative writing exercises. We all have stories and experiences that have left lasting impacts on us. You’ve probably heard, “write what you know.” This exercise is basically that, with a little bit of a twist.
The Exercise: Write down significant experiences you have had in your life in story form. Write the story out and once you are finished, change some of the details to make the switch from real to fiction. Add fictional elements to your story and see what you come up with.
6. “A song, it tells a story – tell yours”
Music is great because we can all interpret songs differently. There is a lot of inspiration in the right songs. Want to discover stories and ideas you didn’t even know you had? Write to music!
The Exercise: Choose a song and use the lyrics, (or the type of feeling that song invokes for you), to create the baseline for a story.
(If you were to visualize a “scene” that goes along with a song, write it out.) – Awesome stories have been created this way 🙂
7. “Free Writing” Exercises
These types of creative writing exercises can be done in quite a few ways. I use these a lot and have come up with both fictional and non-fictional concepts using these exercises.
Exercise 1: Get a dictionary app. Use their “word of the day” feature to free write using the inspiration of that word. (Could also use an actual dictionary. Open it up to a random page, pick a word and use that word as the basis for your free writing.)
Exercise 2: Find a news story on your preferred medium. Free write using the basis of that news story.
Exercise 3: Using a notebook, write 3 words at the top of each page: A Place, an Item & a verb. Fill up a notebook this way and everyday, free write on one of those pages using the words at the top.
Time to Write
I hope you enjoy these creative writing exercises and that your next big idea is hidden somewhere in them 🙂 Time to write! Have a fantastic day!!
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