The best writing exercises bring out our latent creativity. Especially if you ever feel stuck or blocked, making creative writing exercises part of your daily writing practice can be a great way to both hone your skills and explore new frontiers in your writing. Whether you’re a poet, essayist, storyteller, or genre-bending author, these free writing exercises will jumpstart your creative juices and improve your writing abilities.
24 of the Best Free Writing Exercises to Try Out Today
The best creative writing exercises will push you out of your comfort zone and get you to experiment with words. Language is your sandbox, so let’s build some sand castles with these exercises and writing prompts.
Write With Limitations
The English language is huge, complicated, and—quite frankly—chaotic. Writing with self-imposed limitations can help you create novel and inventive pieces.
What does “limitations” mean in this context? Basically, force yourself not to use certain words, descriptions, or figures of speech. Some writing exercises using limitations include the following:
- Write without using adverbs or adjectives.
- Write without using the passive voice –no “being verbs” whatsoever. (Also called “E-Prime” writing.)
- Write a story without using a common letter – just like Ernest Vincent Wright did .
- Write a poem where each line has six words.
- Write without using any pronouns.
Among exercises to improve writing skills, writing with limitations has the clearest benefits. This practice challenges your brain to think about language productively. Additionally, these limitations force you to use unconventional language – which, in turn, makes you write with lucidity, avidity, and invention.
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Freewriting & Stream of Consciousness
What do you do when the words just don’t come out? How can you write better if you can’t seem to write at all? One of the best poetry exercises, as well as writing exercises in general, is to start your day by freewriting.
Freewriting, also known as “stream of consciousness writing,” involves writing your thoughts down the moment they come. There’s no filtering what you write, and no controlling what you think: topicality, style, and continuity are wholly unnecessary in the freewriting process. While the idea of freewriting seems easy, it’s much harder than you think – examining your thoughts without controlling them takes a while to master, and the impulse to control what you write isn’t easy to tame. Try these exercises to master the skill:
- Do a timed freewrite. Start with five minutes.
- Freewrite until you fill up the entirety of something – an envelope, a receipt, a postcard, etc.
- Freewrite after meditating.
- Freewrite off of the first word of today’s newspaper.
Among daily writing exercises, freewriting is one of the best writing exercises. Poets can use freewritten material as inspiration for their poetry. Prose writers can also find inspiration for future stories from the depths of their consciousnesses. Start your writing day with freewriting, and watch your creativity blossom.
Copy What You Read
Plagiarism is still off the table; however, you can learn a lot by paying attention to how other people write. This is what we call “reading like a writer.”
Reading like a writer means paying attention to the craft elements that make an excellent piece of literature work. Good writing requires different writing styles, figurative language, story structures, and/or poetry forms, as well as key word choice.
When you notice these craft elements, you can go ahead and emulate them in your own work. As a fiction writer, you might be drawn to the way Haruki Murakami weaves folklore into his stories, and decide to write a story like that yourself. Or, as a poet, you might be inspired by Terrance Hayes’ Golden Shovel form—enough so that you write a Golden Shovel yourself.
- Read a favorite poem, and write your own poem in the same poetic form.
- Blackout poetry: take another poem, cross out words you don’t want to use, circle words you do, and write a poem based on the circled words.
- Copy a single sentence from a favorite novel, and write a short-short story with it.
Among free writing exercises, this is a great way to learn from the best. The best kinds of exercises to improve writing skills involve building upon the current canon of works—as Isaac Newton said, you achieve something great by “standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Write From Different Perspectives
The conventional advice given to writers is to “write what you know.” We couldn’t disagree with that statement more. The best creative works force both the writer and the reader to consider new perspectives and learn something new; writing from a new point-of-view makes for a great exercise in expanding your creative limits.
Try these ideas as daily writing exercises:
- Write a story with the same plot, but with two or more perspectives. For example, you could write a lover’s quarrel from two different view points.
- Write from the point-of-view of a famous historical figure.
- Write a story or poem from the perspective of an object: a statue, a doll, a roomba, etc.
- Write from the perspective of a person you dislike.
While playing with perspective makes for a great fiction writing exercise , poets and essayists can do this too. Patricia Smith’s poem “Skinhead,” for example, is a persona piece written from the perspective of a white nationalist, but the poem clearly condemns the speaker’s beliefs.
Thus, perspective writing also works as a poetry exercise and an essay writing practice exercise . If you’re stuck in your own head, try writing in someone else’s!
Write Metaphor Lists
All creative writers need figurative language. While metaphors, similes, and synecdoches are more prominent in poetry, prose writers need the power of metaphor to truly engross their reader. Among both exercises to improve writing skills and fun writing exercises for adults, writing metaphor lists is one of the best writing exercises out there.
A metaphor list is simple. On a notebook, create two columns. In one column, write down only concrete nouns. Things like a pillow, a tree, a cat, a cloud, and anything that can be perceived with one of the five senses.
In the other list, write down only abstract ideas. Things like love, hate, war, peace, justice, closure, and reconciliation—anything that is conceptual and cannot be directly perceived.
Now, choose a random noun and a random concept, and create a metaphor or simile with them. Delve into the metaphor and explain the comparison. For example, you might say “Love is like a pillow—it can comfort, or it can smother.”
Once you’ve mastered the metaphor list, you can try the following ideas to challenge yourself:
- Create a coherent poem out of your metaphor list.
- Turn your metaphor list into a short story.
- Try making lists with a different figurative language device, such as personification, pathetic fallacy, or metonymy.
Any free creative writing exercise that focuses on figurative language can aid your writing immensely, as it helps writers add insight and emotionality to their work. This is an especially great creative writing exercise for beginners as they learn the elements of style and language.
Of course, the best way to improve your creative writing skills is simply to write every day. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to exercise your writing mind. By sitting down with your personal observations and writing without an agenda or audience, a daily writing practice remains one of the best writing exercises , regardless of your genre or level of expertise.
Consider these ideas for your daily journal:
- Track your mood and emotions throughout the day. Write those emotions in metaphor—avoid commonplace adjectives and nouns.
- Write about your day from the second- or third-person.
- Journal your day in verse. Use stanzas, line breaks, and figurative language.
- Write about your day backwards.
- Write about your day using Freytag’s pyramid. Build up to a meaningful climax, even if nothing significant seemed to happen today.
Writing Exercises: Have Fun with Them!
Many of these writing exercises might feel challenging at first—and that’s a good thing! You will unlock new ideas and writing strengths by struggling through these creative challenges. The main point is to have fun with them and use them to explore within your writing, without indulging too many monologues from your inner critic.
Are you looking for more exercises to improve your writing skills? Our instructors can offer prompts, illuminating lectures, one-to-one feedback, and more to help you improve your craft. Check out our upcoming creative writing courses, and let’s put these skills to practice.
- #1 Transcribe another author's work.
- #2 Funnel real reactions into writing.
- #3 Describe an in-person setting.
- #4 Try vocabulary builder prompts.
- #5 Develop a freewriting habit.
- #6 Brainstorm multiple headlines.
- #7 Edit other people's writing.
- The best exercise.
- Learn from the best—but don't copy them. ...
- Create a character based on someone you know. ...
- Use the snowflake method to brainstorm. ...
- Find an environment that encourages creative flow. ...
- Try freewriting.
Writing practice is a method of becoming a better writer that usually involves reading lessons about the writing process, using writing prompts, doing creative writing exercises, or finishing writing pieces, like essays, short stories, novels, or books.What activities help with writing? ›
Creative writing activities
- Acrostics. ...
- A letter to your future self. ...
- Write a “Choose your own adventure” story. ...
- Write a fake advertisement. ...
- Make a story map.
The Six Traits of writing are Voice, Ideas, Presentation, Conventions, Organization, Word Choice, and Sentence Fluency. It creates a common vocabulary and guidelines for teachers to use with students so that they become familiar with the terms used in writing.How can I stimulate my brain to write? ›
To get a head start, start reading the content you like the most. Doing that will activate your brain and help fill your brain with ideas. Reading also allows you to build your vocabulary and learn the art of writing.What is the golden rule of creative writing? ›
With the Golden Rule of Writing, you are free to convey whatever idea, thought or image you want. You are free to tell whatever story, write whatever essay, or compose any poem you want. But write it with intention.What are the 7 ways good writers write? ›
- 7 Things Good Writers Do. If you find out what good writers do, you can do it too. ...
- Work on their intros. Making a strong first impression is crucial. ...
- Edit and rewrite relentlessly. ...
- Keep their egos in check. ...
- Write every day. ...
- Avoid clichés and 'fluff' ...
- Write specifically. ...
- Get their writing read.
- Know the basic principles of writing.
- Read more.
- Sketch out a solid outline first.
- Develop a clear message.
- Be straightforward and don't ramble.
- Experiment with word choice.
- Portray your personality in your writing.
- Eliminate overly complex words.
- Review grammar and spelling basics.
- Read what you want to write.
- Get feedback.
- Think about structure.
- Know some common fixes.
Basic writing skills: These include spelling, capitalization, punctuation, handwriting and keyboarding, and sentence structure (e.g., learning to eliminate run-ons and sentence fragments). Basic writing skills are sometimes called the “mechanics” of writing.What are 3 things that good writers do? ›
- Good writers make a good first impression. ...
- Good writers make their endings strong, too. ...
- Good writers organize their articles and stories so that readers can follow along without getting lost or confused. ...
- Good writers rewrite. ...
- Good writers don't just tell something, they show it.
- Clearly stating your purpose. ...
- Using concise language. ...
- Knowing your audience. ...
- Organizing your ideas thoughtfully. ...
- Using the active voice. ...
- Stating facts instead of opinions. ...
- Keeping your writing free of errors. ...
- Displaying confidence.
- Popplet. ...
- Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus. ...
- Evernote. ...
- Lists for Writers. ...
- Dragon Dictation. ...
- Grammar Girl's App. ...
- Make a schedule. Calendar in an amount of time every day you can dedicate to your writing life to get into the habit of writing. ...
- Create a space. ...
- Set a daily goal. ...
- Consider it a daily habit. ...
- Do freewriting. ...
- Try morning writing. ...
- Join a writing group. ...
- Be fearless.
- Make Practicing Fun. Offer your child a special pencil or a rainbow of colored ones. ...
- Encourage Drawing and Puzzle Games. ...
- Pinpoint the Problem. ...
- The Right Tools. ...
- Writing Outside the Box.
The seven C's are: clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considered and courteous.What are the 5 pillars of writing? ›
- Plot & Story Structure.
- Character Development.
The 7 stages of the EEF's writing process: Planning, Drafting, Sharing, Evaluating, Revising, Editing and Publishing.How many hours a day should I write? ›
Stephen King: 2000 Words
In his memoir, King says it's best to write a minimum of 2000 words a day to avoid “the smooch of death.” “Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can't expect to become a good writer.”
Erica Vetsch: The true answer is—it depends. If I'm on a deadline of some kind, I can write from 4-6 hours a day. Mostly, I write from 2-4 hours on weekday afternoons. I do lots of other writing tasks like editing, marketing, blogging, etc, but for writing on the manuscript, I average about 3 hours per weekday.