Written by MasterClass
Learning to write fiction is like training for a marathon. Before you get ready for the main event, it’s good to warm up and stretch your creative muscles. Whether you’re a published author of a bestselling book or a novice author writing a novel for the first time, creative exercises are great for clearing up writer’s block and getting your creative juices flowing.
What Are Creative Writing Exercises?
Creative writing exercises are short bursts of improvisational writing. From one line to a short story, these writing drills prompt a writer to approach a familiar topic in a new way. Creative writing classes often incorporate short, spontaneous assignments, but any writer should make these a part of their daily habit to expand their abilities and learn how to approach a story in different ways. Creative writers should do these exercises for ten minutes at a time, several times a week. They are meant to improve writing skills, spark new story ideas, and make you a better writer.
8 Creative Writing Exercises
Whether you’re taking a break from a work in progress or are in between writing projects and need some inspiration, regular creative writing exercises help you strengthen your writing process. Incorporate these eight exercises into your writing routine.
- Let your stream of consciousness run. Start with a blank page. Then just start writing. Don’t stop to edit or think about what you’re saying. This is called free writing. This writing exercise is what Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls “morning pages.” She suggests writers do this every day right when they wake up. Stream of consciousness writing can draw out some interesting ideas. Just let your brain lead and your fingers type.
- Switch up a story’s POV. Take a scene—or a chapter if you’re feeling adventurous—from one of your favorite books. Write it from a different character’s point of view. In this exercise you’re switching out the main character to see how the story can be told in another way. Take the exciting finale from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and write it with Ron as the main character. Another variation of this creative exercise is to keep the main character, but switch POV. For example, if a writer has told a story in first person, rewrite a scene in third person. What information gets left out when you switch points of view? What does the reader know, or not know, in this new way of telling the story?
- Use creative writing prompts. To generate writing ideas, use writing prompts, also called story starters. A writing prompt is a sentence or short passage that a writer uses as a springboard into a spontaneous story. You can find writing prompts online, choose a line at random from a magazine, or find a great line from a famous novel as the opener for your short scene.
- Write a letter to your younger self. Have you ever wished you could say something to your younger self? Here’s your chance. Think of a subject you want to address, like a significant event, and compose a letter to your younger self as if you were a separate person. Offer advice or send a message you wish you had received when you were a child or young adult.
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