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43 Creative Writing Exercises

Creative writing exercises for adults

This page contains a selection of fun creative writing exercises that can be completed solo, or with a group.  Some are prompts to help inspire you to come up with story ideas, others focus on learning specific writing skills.

The sections are as follows:

A note on running exercises remotely

A letter from your character to you, the opening sentence, make your protagonist act, overcoming writer's block, writing character arcs, sewing seeds in your writing, giving feedback to authors, the five senses, show don't tell, world building.

Easy gossiping exercise

Degrees of Emotion Game

Three birds, one line, blind date on valentine's day (exercise for adults), a success (works best for online groups), your dream holiday, time travel - child, adult, senior, focus on faces.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

The alphabet story - creating a story as a group

A question or two, murder mystery game, the obscure movie exercise, how to hint at romantic feelings, a novel idea, creative writing prompts, creative story cards / dice, alternative christmas story, murder mystery mind map.

New Year's resolutions for a fictional character

Stephen King - Using verbs & nouns in fiction

It's the end of the world

Other Content:

7 Editing exercises  (for your first draft)

How to run the writing exercises

While you can enjoy the exercises solo, a lot of writing groups have gone online during the coronavirus pandemic and are using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Skype to keep in touch with other writers during this time.

If you're running such a group and following a ' Shut Up and Write ' structure, I recommend connecting on WhatsApp (for example) first, doing the exercise together, with participants sending each other their writing samples where necessary as part of the exercise, then disconnecting to write in silence for an hour and a half, before reconnecting for a brief informal chat at the end. This works well with small remote groups and is a great way to gain some online support and stay productive!

If you have a larger group, it's worth looking into Zoom, as this has a feature called  Breakout Rooms . Breakout Rooms let you split different writers into separate rooms, which is great for group activities. The free version of Zoom has a 40 minute limit, which can be restrictive, but Zoom Pro is well worth it if you're going to use it on a regular basis. In my experience, Zoom has a better connection than Skype or WhatsApp.

I hope you remain healthy and creative throughout this difficult time for us all.

I run a  Creative Writing Meetup  for adults and teens in Montpellier every week where we start with a 5 to 20 minute exercise, followed by an hour and a half of silent writing, where we each work on our own project. Each of these exercises has been used with the group and works well.  Where the exercises below specify a number of people, if you have a larger group, simply split everyone up into smaller groups as appropriate.

The solo exercises are ideal if you’re working by yourself to help stimulate your mind before working on a larger project or to overcome writer’s block, or can be used with a larger group, where you simply ask everyone to share what they’ve written in groups of 3 or 4 people afterwards. Looking for something quick to fire your imagination? Check out these  creative writing prompts for adults .

Letter from fictional character to the author

If your goal is to write a complete work of fiction, whether it be a novel, a play or a movie script, you will one day need to write to an agent or publisher to ask them to publish your work.

In this exercise, we turn this around and ask you to instead spend 10 minutes writing a letter from a character in your novel to  you , the author, explaining why you should write about them! This serves three purposes:

If you're doing this exercise with a group of teens or adults, and some of the group haven't already started working on their masterpiece, they can instead choose any fictional novel that they love and imagine that a character within it wrote to the author in the first place to ask them to write their story.  What did that letter look like?

  • As you write, it helps you get into the mindset of the character. Ask yourself how they would language this letter and what they would consider important to include.
  • It's motivating to know that your character wants you to write about them.
  • It's good practice for when you will need to send a letter to an agent or publisher.  

First sentence of books

The opening sentence has to grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. Many authors achieve this by starting with an action scene and avoid starting with someone waking up, or a description of the weather. In this exercise the task is to write an opening sentence either to a book you're currently writing, or simply for an imaginary piece of literature.  Here are some of my favourite opening sentences to get you going:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

George Orwell , 1984

The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.

Helene Wecker , The Golem and the Djinni

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina

It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.

Diana Gabaldon , Outlander

You better not never tell nobody but God.

Alice Walker , The Color Purple

The cage was finished.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,  Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon

Imagine that you are living your life out of order: Lunch before breakfast, marriage before your first kiss.

Audrey Niffenegger ,  The Time Traveler's Wife

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Douglas Adams ,  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There are a plethora of ways that you can start a book, however two ways that help engage the reader immediately are:

  • Set the scene in as few words as possible, so that the reader immediately knows what's happening and wants to know what happens next.  The scene must be original and create a vivid image in the reader's mind.
  • Surprise the reader with an unusual event or usual point of view.

Spend 5 minutes working on your own opening sentence, then share it with the other participants.

Exercise for 2 writers, or can be done solo.

Make your characters act

According to John Gardner:

"Failure to recognise that the central character must act, not simply be acted upon, is the single most common mistake in the fiction of beginners."

Spend 5 minutes writing a scene where the protagonist is passive in a conversation with one other character. It could be that the other character says something dramatic, and the protagonist just listens, or it could be anything else of your choice!

Once the 5 minutes is up, swap papers with another writer. If you're using Zoom, or working online, send it to each other in a private chat. Now the other person spends 8 minutes rewriting the scene to make the protagonist as active as possible. This might include:

Read both scenes together. Which makes you want to keep on reading?

If you're doing this as a solo writing exercise, simply complete both parts yourself.

  • Showing the emotion this evokes.
  • Getting them to disagree with the other character.
  • Showing how they respond physically (whether it's as a physical manifestation of how they feel, or a dramatic gesture to make a point).

Overcoming writer's block

Are you staring at a blank page or stuck for any story ideas? This exercise will help anyone who's experiencing writer's block with a particular piece of writing. If this isn't you, that's great, others will value your input!

If anyone has a particular scene that they're stuck with (a pool of blood on the floor that they have no explanation for, a reason why the rich lady just walked into a particular pub, etc.) then at the start of the exercise everyone briefly describes their scenes (if working online with a large group, typing it into the chat might be best). Everyone then chooses one scene to use as a writing prompt to write a short story for 10-15 minutes.

Afterwards, split into small groups if necessary, and read out how you completed someone else's writing prompt. As everyone listens to everyone else's ideas, this can be a wonderful source of inspiration and also improves your writing. As an alternative solo exercise, try free writing. With free writing, simply write as quickly as you can on the topic without editing or censoring yourself - just let your creative juices flow. If you're not sure what happens next, brainstorm options on the page, jot down story ideas, or just put, "I don't know what happens next." Keep going and ideas will come.

Character arc

There are several different types of character arc in a novel, the 3 most common being:

For this exercise choose either a positive or negative character arc and spend 8 minutes writing a scene from the start of a novel, then 8 minutes writing a scene towards the end of a novel showing how the character has developed between the two points (obviously, we will have to imagine how this change has occurred).

The point here is to capture the essence of a character, as they will be the same, but show their development.

  • Positive  - Where a character develops and grows during the novel, perhaps starting unhappy or weak and ending happy or powerful.
  • Negative  - Where a character gets worse during a novel, perhaps becoming ill or giving in to evil tendencies as the novel progresses.
  • Flat  - In a flat character arc the character themself doesn't change much, however the world around them does. This could be overthrowing a great injustice, for example.

Sewing seeds in writing

In this exercise, we will look at how to sew seeds. No, not in your garden, but in your story. Seeds are the tiny hints and indicators that something is going on, which influence a reader's perceptions on an often unconscious level. They're important, as if you spring a surprise twist on your readers without any warning, it can seem unbelievable. Sew seeds that lead up to the event, so the twists and turns are still surprising, but make intuitive sense. Groups : Brainstorm major plot twists that might happen towards the end of the novel and share it in a Zoom chat, or on pieces of paper. Choose one twist each. Individuals : Choose one of the following plot twists:   -  Your friend is actually the secret son of the king.   -  Unreliable narrator - the narrator turns out to be villain.   -  The monster turns out to be the missing woman the narrator is seeking.   -  The man she is about to marry happens to already have a wife and three kids.

Write for ten minutes and give subtle hints as to what the plot twist is. This is an exercise in subtlety. Remember, when the twist occurs, it should still come as a surprise.

Animal exercise

This is a fun writing activity for a small group. You’ve found a magic potion labelled ‘Cat Chat’ and when you drink it, you turn into whichever animal you’re thinking about; but there’s a problem, it also picks up on the brainwaves of other people near you!

Everyone writes down an animal in secret and then reveals it to the other writers.  The spell will turn you into a creature that combines elements of all the animals.  Each person then spends 5 minutes writing down what happens when they drink the potion.

After the 5 minutes is up, everyone shares their story with the other participants.

If you enjoy this exercise, then you may also want to check out our  Fantasy and Sci-Fi writing prompts  full of world building, magic, and character development prompts..

I remember

Joe Brainard wrote a novel called:  I Remember It contains a collection of paragraphs all starting with “I remember”.  This is the inspiration for this exercise, and if you’re stuck for what to write, is a great way to get the mental gears turning.  Simply write “I remember” and continue with the first thing that pops into your head.

Spend 5 minutes writing a short collection of “I remember” stories.

Here are a couple of examples from Joe Brainard’s novel:

“I remember not understanding why people on the other side of the world didn't fall off.”

“I remember waking up somewhere once and there was a horse staring me in the face.”

Giving constructive feedback to authors

If you're running a workshop for more experienced adult authors and have at least half an hour, then this is a good one to use (this is the longest exercise on this page, but I felt it important enough to include).

Give each member the option to bring a piece of their own work that should be double spaced and a maximum of 3 pages long. If you're running a workshop where not everyone is likely to bring a manuscript, then ask everyone who wants to bring one to print two copies each (If someone forgets but has a laptop with them, the reader can always use their laptop).

Print out a few copies and hand them around to everyone in the workshop of the guide on: 'How to give constructive feedback to writers'

Each author who brought a sample with them then gives them to one other person to review. They write their name on the manuscript in a certain colour pen, then add any comments to it before passing it to a second person who does the same (commenting on the comments if they agree or disagree).

Then allow 5 minutes for everyone to discuss the feedback they've received, ensuring that they are giving constructive feedback.

Giovanni Battista Manerius - The Five Senses

Painting by Giovanni Battista Manerius -  The Five Senses

Choose a scene and write it for 5 minutes focusing on one sense, NOT sight. Choose between:

Hearing  Taste Smell Touch

This can be internal as well as external (I heard my heartbeat thudding in my ears, or I smelt my own adrenaline).

After the 5 minutes stop and everyone reads it out loud to each other. Now write for another 5 minutes and continue the other person's story, but do NOT use sight OR the sense they used.

You can use any sense to communicate the essentials, just focus on creating emotions and conveying the story with the specific sense(s).

If you need some writing prompts, here are possible scenes that involve several senses:

  • Climbing through an exotic jungle
  • Having an argument that becomes a fight
  • A cat's morning
  • Talking to someone you're attracted to

2 or 3 people

Show don't tell your story

A lot of writing guides will advise you to, "Show, don't tell," but what does this actually mean?

If you want to evoke an emotional reaction from your reader, then showing them what is happening is a great way to do so.  You can do this in several ways:

Split up into pairs and each person writes down a short scene from a story where they "tell" it.  After this, pass the description of the scene to your partner and they then have 5 minutes to rewrite it to "show" what happened.  If there are an odd number of participants, make one group of three, with each person passing their scene clockwise, so everyone has a new scene to show.  After the 5 minutes, for small groups everyone reads their new description to everyone else, or for large groups, each person just reads their new scene to their partner.

  • Avoid internal dialogue (thinking), instead have your protagonist interact with other people, or have a physical reaction to something that shows how s/he feels.  Does their heart beat faster?  Do they notice the smell of their own adrenaline?  Do they step backwards, or lean forwards?
  • Instead of using an adjective like creepy, e.g. "Mary entered the creepy house", show why the house is creepy through description and in the way the protagonist responds - "The light streamed through the filthy skylight, highlighting the decomposing body of a rat resting on top of it.  As Mary stepped instead, she felt a gust of freezing air brush past her, she turned, but there was nothing there..."

Visual writing prompts

World building is the art of conveying the magic of living in a different world, whether it's a spaceship, a medieval castle, a boat, or simply someone's living room. To master world building, it's not necessary to know every intricate detail, rather to convey the experience of what it would be like to live there.

Choose one of the above images as a prompt and spend 10 minutes writing a scene from the perspective of someone who is seeing it for the first time. Now, move your character six months forward and imagine that they've spent the last six months living or working there. Write another scene (perhaps with an additional character) using the image as a background, with the events of the scene as the main action.

Click the above image for a close-up.

Gossiping about a character as if they're a friend.

Easy to gossip with friends about a character

Judy Blume says that she tells her family about her characters as if they’re real people. 

Chris Claremont said, "For me, writing the 'X-Men' was easy - is easy. I know these people, they're my friends." 

Today’s exercise has 2 parts. First, spend 5 minutes jotting down some facts about a character you’ve invented that might come up if you were telling your friends about them. Either choose a character in something you’ve already written, or invent one from scratch now.

Answer the questions:

What are they up to? How are they? What would you say if you were gossiping about them?

Then split up into groups of 4 to 6 writers. 2 volunteers from each group then role-play talking about their character as if they were a friend (perhaps another character in the story).  The other participants will role-play a group of friends gossiping about the character behind their back and ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, invent it!

Degrees of emotion

This is based on an acting game, to help actors understand how to perform with different degrees of emotion.

Ask everyone to write the following 4 emotions:

For groups of 5 or less, write down numbers starting with 1 and going up until everyone has a number, then give them out in order. For groups of 6 or more, divide groups into 3's, 4's or 5's.

Each person has to write a scene where the protagonist is alone and is only allowed to say a single word, e.g. "Banana".  The writer with number 1 should write the scene with a very low level of the emotion (e.g. happiness), number 2 increases the intensity a bit and the highest number writes a scene with the most intense emotion you can possibly imagine.

Once each writer has written about happiness, rotate the numbers one or two spaces, then move onto anger, then fear, then sadness.

It can help to give everyone numbers showing the intensity of the emotions to write about at the start of the exercise, in which case you may wish to print either the Word or PDF file, then use the ones corresponding to 3, 4 or 5 writers.

PDF

Everyone shares their scene with the other course participants.

Kill three birds with one stone

The first paragraph of a surprising number of best-selling novels serves multiple purposes. These are to:

Nearly every chapter in a novel also serves all three purposes. Instead of establishing a goal though, the protagonist either moves towards it, or encounters an obstacle that hinders them from achieving it.

Some books manage to meet all three purposes with their opening lines, for example:  

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

J.K. Rowling ,  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  

A little more than one hundred days into the fortieth year of her confinement, Dajeil Gelian was visited in her lonely tower overlooking the sea by an avatar of the great ship that was her home.

Iain M. Banks ,  Excession  

"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.

George R.R. Martin ,  A Game of Thrones

For this exercise write a sentence or short paragraph that serves all three purposes. If you're already writing a novel, then see if you can do this for the first line in a chapter. If not, choose any combination from the following table:

  • Establish a goal
  • Set the scene
  • Develop a character

Valentine's Day Book

In pairs one writer spends a minute or two describing a character they're writing about, or alternatively they can describe a celebrity or someone from a work of fiction.  The next writer then describes their character.

The story is that these 2 characters (or in my case, person and alien, as I'm writing a sci-fi) have accidentally ended up on a blind date with each other, perhaps the waiter seated them in the wrong location, perhaps it's an actual blind date, or perhaps they met in some other fashion that the writers can determine.

Now spend 10 minutes discussing what happens next!

Winning a race

This exercise works best for online groups, via Zoom, for example.  The instructions to give are:

"In a few words describe a success in your life and what it felt like to achieve it. It can be a small victory or a large one."

Share a personal example of your own (mine was watching my homeschooled sons sing in an opera together).

"Once you have one (small or large), write it in the chat.

The writing exercise is then to choose someone else's victory to write about for 10 minutes, as if it was the end of your own book.

If you want to write for longer, now imagine how that book would start, and write the first part of the book with the ending in mind."

In this difficult time, this is great for reminding people of a success in their lives, and also helps everyone connect and discover something about each other.

Dream holiday in France

You’re going on a dream holiday together, but can’t stand conflict, so rather than discuss what you want to do, you’ve decided that each of you will choose a different aspect of the holiday as follows:

Decide who gets to choose what at random, then each of you write down your dream holiday destination/activity/travel/food & clothes in secret.  Next spend 5 minutes discussing your dream holiday and add any other details you’d like to include, particularly if you’re passionate about doing something in real life.

Finally, everyone spends another 5 minutes writing down a description of the holiday, then shares it with the others.

  • Choose where you’ll be going – your favourite holiday destination.
  • Choose what your main fun activity will be on the holiday.
  • Decide what mode of travel you’ll use to get there.
  • If there’s a 4 th  person, choose what you’ll eat on the holiday and what you’ll be wearing.

Writing haiku

A haiku is a traditional Japanese form of non-rhyming poetry whose short form makes it ideal for a simple writing exercise.

They traditionally are structured in 3 lines, where the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables again and tend to focus on themes of nature and deep concepts that can be expressed simply.

A couple of examples:

A summer river being crossed how pleasing with sandals in my hands! Yosa Buson , a haiku master poet from the 18 th  Century.

And one of mine:

When night-time arrives Stars come out, breaking the dark You can see the most

Martin Woods

Spend up to 10 minutes writing a haiku.  If you get stuck with the 5-7-5 syllable rule, then don’t worry, the overall concept is more important!

See  How to write a haiku  for more details and examples.

Writing a limerick

Unlike a haiku, which is profound and sombre, a limerick is a light-hearted, fun rhyming verse.

Here are a couple of examples:

A wonderful bird is the pelican. His bill can hold more than his beli-can He can take in his beak Food enough for a week But I'm damned if I see how the heli-can.

Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1910

There was a young lady named Bright, Whose speed was far faster than light; She started one day In a relative way, And returned on the previous night.

Arthur Henry Reginald Buller in  Punch,  1923

The 1 st , 2 nd  and 5 th  line all rhyme, as do the 3 rd  and 4 th  line.  The overall number of syllables isn’t important, but the 3 rd  and 4 th  lines should be shorter than the others.

Typically, the 1 st  line introduces the character, often with “There was”, or “There once was” and the rest of the verse tells their story.

Spend 10 minutes writing a limerick.

Adult time travel

Imagine that your future self as an old man/woman travels back in time to meet you, the adult you are today.  Alternatively, you as a child travels forward in time to meet yourself as an adult.  Or perhaps both happen, so that the child you, adult you, and senior you are all together at the same time.  In story form write down what happens next.

Participants then share their story with other writers either in small groups, or to the whole group.

Solo exercise

Describing a character

One challenge writers face is describing a character and a common mistake is to focus too much on the physical features, e.g. "She had brown eyes, curly brown hair and was five foot six inches tall."

The problem with this is that it doesn't reveal anything about the character's personality, or about the relationship between your protagonist and the character and your reader is therefore likely to quickly forget what someone looks like.  When describing characters, it's therefore best to:

Here are 3 examples of character descriptions that leave no doubt how the protagonist feels.

“If girls could spit venom, it'd be through their eyes.” S.D. Lawendowski,  Snapped

"And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war." Maggie Stiefvater,  The Dream Thieves

"His mouth was such a post office of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling." Charles Dickens

Spend 5 minutes writing a character introduction that is animated, uses metaphors or similes and involves your protagonist.

If working with a group, then form small groups of 3 or 4 and share your description with the rest of the group.

  • Animate them  - it's rare that someone's sitting for a portrait when your protagonist first meets them and whether they're talking or walking, it's likely that they're moving in some way.
  • Use metaphors or similes  - comparing physical features to emotionally charged items conjures both an image and a sense of who someone is.
  • Involve your protagonist  - if your protagonist is interacting with a character, make it personal.  How does your protagonist view this person?  Incorporate the description as part of the description.
  • Only give information your protagonist knows  - they may know if someone is an adult, or a teenager, but they won't know that someone is 37 years old, for example.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

Onomatopeai, rhyme or alliteration.

Today's session is all about sound.

Several authors recommend reading your writing out loud after you've written it to be sure it sounds natural.   Philip Pullman  even goes as far as to say:

"When I’m writing, I’m more conscious of the sound, actually, than the meaning. I know what the rhythm of the sentence is going to be before I know what the words are going to be in it."

For today's exercise, choose the name of a song and write for 10 minutes as if that's the title for a short story. Focus on how your writing sounds and aim to include at least one onomatopoeia, rhyme or alliteration.  At the end of the 10 minutes, read it out loud to yourself, or to the group.

Alliterations

An alliteration example from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea.

Onomatopoeias

Buzz, woof, quack, baa, crash, purr, beep, belch,...

alphabet story

This is a novel way to write a story as a group, one word at a time.  The first person starts the story that begins with any word starting with “A”, the next person continues the story with a word starting with “B”, and so on.

Keep going round until you have completed the alphabet.  Ideally it will all be one sentence, but if you get stuck, start a new sentence.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t make complete sense!

It can be tricky to remember the alphabet when under pressure, so you may wish to print it out a couple of times, so the storytellers can see it if they need to, this is particularly helpful if you have dyslexics in the group.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Here’s an example of an alphabet story:

A Band Can Dance Each Friday, Ghostly Hauntings In Jail Kill Lucky Men, Nobody Or Perhaps Quiet Rats, Still That Unifies Villains Who X-Ray Your Zebras.

As I mentioned, it doesn’t need to make sense!

Small or large groups

1 or 2 questions

The standard format in our group is a short writing exercise followed by an hour and a half of silent writing on our projects.

At one point I felt like we'd done a lot of small group exercises, and wanted to gain an insight into what everyone was working on, so we did the following exercise instead:

Go round the table and ask everyone to briefly talk about their writing.  Each person then asks one or two yes/no questions.

Everyone responds either by raising their hand for 'yes' or shaking their heads for 'no'. You can also leap up and down to indicate a very strong 'yes'.

Questions can be about anything, and you can use them either to help guide your writing or to help find other people in the group who have similar interests.

Here are some random examples you might ask:

This works best when you give participants some advance notice, so they have time to think of a question.

  • I want to write a romance novel and am considering setting it in Paris, a traditional romantic setting, or Liverpool which is a less obvious setting. Who thinks Liverpool would be best?
  • I need to know more about the life of a farmer. Has anyone got farming experience who I can interview in exchange for a drink?
  • My character gets fired and that night goes back to his office and steals 35 computers. Does that sound realistic as the premise of a story?

Groups of 3 or 4

Murder mystery

This exercise takes 20-30 minutes and allows participants to create a murder mystery outline together.

Phase 1 (3 minutes)

Phase 2 (10 minutes).

Each person then writes a police report as if they are either describing the scene of the crime, or recording the notes from their interview with a single suspect:

Write the following:

Write the following (from the perspective of the investigator):

Phase 3 (5 minutes)

See more ideas on  creating murder mystery party games

  • Split into groups of 3 or 4.
  • Decide as a group where the murder occurs (e.g. the opera house, a bar, a casino).
  • Decide one person who will write the details of the victim and the murder itself.  Everyone else writes the details of one suspect each.
  • The ‘victim author’ then invents a few extra details about the scene of the crime, who the victim was (a teenage punk, an adult opera singer, etc.) and the murder weapon and summarises this to the others.
  • 1 line description of the victim.
  • When they were last seen by a group of witnesses (and what they were doing).
  • How the murder occurred in more detail based on the evidence available.
  • 1 line description of the suspect.
  • What they said during the interview (including what they claim to have doing when the murder occurs).
  • A possible motivation (as determined by the police from other witnesses).
  • Each person reads out their police reports to the other members of their small group.
  • As a group, decide who the murderer was and what actually happened.

Obscure movie

Pick a famous movie and spend 5 minutes writing a scene from it from an unusual perspective.  Your aim is to achieve a balance between being too obscure and making it too obvious.  Feel free to add internal dialogue.

At the end of the 5 minutes, everyone reads their movie scene to the others and all the other participants see if they can guess what the movie is.

How to hint at romantic feelings

Write a scene with 2 people in a group, where you hint that one is romantically interested in the other, but the feelings aren’t reciprocated.

The goal of this exercise is to practice subtlety. Imagine you are setting a scene for the future where the characters feelings will become more important. Choose a situation like a work conference, meeting with a group of friends, etc. How do you indicate how the characters feel without them saying it in words?

Some tips for hinting at romantic feelings:

  • Make the characters nervous and shy.
  • Your protagonist leans forward.
  • Asks deeper questions and listens intently.
  • Finds ways to be close together.
  • Mirrors their gestures.
  • Gives lots of compliments.
  • Makes eye contact, then looks away.
  • Other people seem invisible to your protagonist.

Novel idea

Take it in turns to tell everyone else about a current project that you’re working on (a book, screenplay, short story, etc.)

The other writers then brainstorm ideas for related stories you could write, or directions your project could take.  There are no right or wrong suggestions and the intention is to focus on big concepts, not little details.

This whole exercise takes around 15 minutes.

Exercise for groups of 3-5

Creative writing

If you're in larger group, split up into groups of 3 or 4 people.

Everyone writes the first line of a story in the Zoom chat, or on paper. Other people can then choose this line as a writing prompt.

For this exercise:

Once everyone's written a prompt, everyone chooses a prompt (preferably someone eles's, but it can be your own if you feel really inspired by it.)  Then write for 10 minutes using this prompt. See if you can reveal who the protagonist is, what their motivation is (it can be a small motivation for a particular scene, it doesn't have to be a huge life goal), and introduce at least one new character.

Take turns reading out your stories to each other.

  • Write in the first person.
  • Have the protagonist interacting with an object or something in nature.
  • The challenge is to create intrigue that makes the reader want to know more with just a single line.
  • Say who the protagonist is.
  • Reveal their motivation.
  • Introduce any other characters

Creative story cards for students

Cut up a piece of paper and write one word on each of the pieces of paper, as follows:

Give each participant a couple of pieces of paper at random.  The first person says the first sentence of a story and they must use their first word as part of that sentence.  The second person then continues the story and must include their word in it, and so on.  Go round the group twice to complete the story.

You can also do this creative writing exercise with story dice, your own choice of words, or by asking participants to write random words down themselves, then shuffling all the cards together.

Alternative Christmas Story

Every Christmas adults tell kids stories about Santa Claus. In this exercise you write a Christmas story from an alternative dimension.

What if every Christmas Santa didn't fly around the world delivering presents on his sleigh pulled by reindeer? What if gnomes or aliens delivered the presents? Or perhaps it was the gnomes who are trying to emulate the humans? Or some other Christmas tradition entirely that we humans have never heard of!

Group writing exercise

If you're working with a group, then give everyone a couple of minutes to write 2 possible themes for the new Christmas story. Each theme should be 5 words or less.

Then simply shuffle the paper and distribute them at random (or everyone types the themes into a Zoom or group chat, if you're working online). Everyone then spends 10 minutes writing a short story for children based on one of the two themes, or their own theme if they really want to.

If working alone, choose your own theme and spend 15 minutes writing a short story on it. See if you can create the magic of Christmas from another world!

Murder Mystery mind map

In a murder mystery story or courtroom drama, there's often conflicting information and lots of links between characters and a mind map is an ideal way to illustrate how everything ties together.

Split into groups of 3 or 4 people each and place a blank piece of A3 paper (double the size of A4) in the middle of each group. Discuss between you who the victim is and write their name in the middle of the piece of paper. Then brainstorm information about the murder, for example:

Feel free to expand out from any of these, e.g. to include more information on the different characters involved.

The idea is that  everyone writes at the same time!   Obviously, you can discuss ideas, but anyone can dive in and write their ideas on the mind map.

  • Who was the victim? (job, appearance, hobbies, etc.)
  • Who did the victim know?
  • What were their possible motivations?
  • What was the murder weapon?
  • What locations are significant to the plot?

New Year’s resolutions for a fictional character

List of ideas for a fictional character

If you’re writing a piece of fiction, asking yourself how your protagonist would react to an everyday situation might help you to gain a deeper insight into who they are.

One way to do this is to imagine what their New Year’s resolutions would be!

If completing this exercise with a group, limit it to 3 to 5 resolutions per person and if some participants are non-fiction writers, they can instead pick a celebrity and either write what their resolutions  will  be, or what their resolutions  should  be, their choice.

Verb Noun Fiction Exercise (Inspired by Stephen King)

List of ideas for a fictional character

Stephen King said, "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

He also said, "Take any noun, put it with any verb, and you have a sentence. It never fails. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Mountains float. These are all perfect sentences. Many such thoughts make little rational sense, but even the stranger ones (Plums deify!) have a kind of poetic weight that’s nice."

In this fiction writing exercise, start by brainstorming (either individually or collectively) seven verbs on seven different pieces of paper. Put those aside for later. Now brainstorm seven nouns. Randomly match the nouns and verbs so you have seven pairs. Choose a pair and write a piece of fiction for ten minutes. Avoid using any adverbs.

It’s the end of the world

End of the world

It’s the end of the world!  For 5 minutes either:

If working as a team, then after the 5 minutes is up each writer reads their description out to the other participants.

  • Describe how the world’s going to end, creating evocative images using similes or metaphors as you wish and tell the story from a global perspective, or
  • Describe how you spend your final day before the world is destroyed.  Combine emotion and action to engage the reader.

7 Editing Exercises

For use after your first draft

Editing first draft

I’ve listened to a lot of masterclasses on writing by successful authors and they all say variants of your first draft won’t be good and that’s fine. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman summarise it the best:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  

Terry Pratchett

“For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonising over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed… For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.”

Neil Gaiman

Once you’ve written your first draft, it will need editing to develop the plot, enhance the characters, and improve each scene in a myriad of ways – small and large. These seven creative editing exercises are designed to help with this stage of the process.

The First Sentence

Read the first paragraph of the novel, in particular the first sentence. Does it launch the reader straight into the action? According to  On Writing and Worldbuilding  by Timothy Hickson,  “The most persuasive opening lines are succinct, and not superfluous. To do this, it is often effective to limit it to a single central idea… This does not need to be the most important element, but it should be a central element that is interesting.” Ask yourself what element your opening sentence encapsulates and whether it’s the best one to capture your readers’ attention.

Consistency

Consistency is crucial in creative writing, whether it’s in relation to location, objects, or people.

It’s also crucial for personality, emotions and motivation.

Look at scenes where your protagonist makes an important decision. Are their motivations clear? Do any scenes force them to choose between two conflicting morals? If so, do you explore this? Do their emotions fit with what’s happened in previous scenes?

As you edit your manuscript, keep the characters’ personality, emotions and motivation in mind. If their behaviour is inconsistent, either edit it for consistency, or have someone comment on their strange behaviour or be surprised by it. Inconsistent behaviour can reveal that a character is keeping a secret, or is under stress, so characters don’t always need to be consistent. But when they’re not, there has to be a reason.  

Show Don’t Tell One

This exercise is the first in  The Emotional Craft of Fiction  by Donald Maass. It’s a writing guide with a plethora of editing exercises designed to help you reenergize your writing by thinking of what your character is feeling, and giving you the tools to make your reader feel something.  

  • Select a moment in your story when your protagonist is moved, unsettled, or disturbed… Write down all the emotions inherent in this moment, both obvious and hidden.
  • Next, considering what he is feeling, write down how your protagonist can act out. What is the biggest thing your protagonist can do? What would be explosive, out of bounds, or offensive? What would be symbolic? … Go sideways, underneath, or ahead. How can your protagonist show us a feeling we don’t expect to see?
  • Finally, go back and delete all the emotions you wrote down at the beginning of this exercise. Let actions and spoken words do the work. Do they feel too big, dangerous, or over-the-top? Use them anyway. Others will tell you if you’ve gone too far, but more likely, you haven’t gone far enough.

Show Don’t Tell Two

Search for the following words in your book:

Whenever these words occur, ask yourself if you can demonstrate how your characters feel, rather than simply stating it. For each occasion, can you use physiological descriptors (a racing heart), actions (taking a step backwards) or dialogue to express what’s just happened instead? Will this enhance the scene and engage the reader more?

After The Action

Find a scene where your characters disagree – in particular a scene where your protagonist argues with friends or allies. What happens next?

It can be tempting to wrap up the action with a quick resolution. But what if a resentment lingers and mistrust builds? This creates a more interesting story arc and means a resolution can occur later, giving the character development a real dynamic.

Review how you resolve the action and see if you can stretch out the emotions for a more satisfying read.

Eliminating the Fluff

Ensure that the words used don’t detract from the enormity of the events your character is going through. Can you delete words like, “Quite”, “Little”, or “Rather”? 

Of “Very” Florence King once wrote: “ 'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen .” Delete it, or replace the word after it with a stronger word, which makes “Very” redundant.

“That,” is another common word used in creative writing which can often be deleted. Read a sentence as is, then reread it as if you deleted, “That”. If the meaning is the same, delete it.

Chapter Endings

When talking about chapter endings, James Patterson said,  “At the end, something has to propel you into the next chapter.”

Read how each of your chapters finish and ask yourself does it either:

  • End on a cliff hanger? (R.L. Stine likes to finish every chapter in this method).
  • End on a natural pause (for example, you’re changing point of view or location).

Review how you wrap up each of your chapters. Do you end at the best point in your story? Can you add anticipation to cliff hangers? Will you leave your readers wanting more?  

The editing exercises are designed to be completed individually.

With the others, I've always run them as part of a creative writing group, where there's no teacher and we're all equal participants, therefore I keep any 'teaching' aspect to a minimum, preferring them to be prompts to generate ideas before everyone settles down to do the silent writing. We've recently gone online and if you run a group yourself, whether online or in person, you're welcome to use these exercises for free!

The times given are suggestions only and I normally get a feel for how everyone's doing when time's up and if it's obvious that everyone's still in the middle of a discussion, then I give them longer.  Where one group's in the middle of a discussion, but everyone else has finished, I sometimes have a 'soft start' to the silent writing, and say, "We're about to start the hour and a half of silent writing now, but if you're in the middle of a discussion, feel free to finish it first".

This way everyone gets to complete the discussion, but no-one's waiting for ages.  It's also important to emphasise that there's no wrong answers when being creative.

Still looking for more? Check out these  creative writing prompts , or our dedicated  Sci-Fi and Fantasy creative writing prompts .

If you've enjoyed these creative writing exercises, please share them on social media, or link to them from your blog.

Creative writing games

Writing prompts for adults

Fantasy and sci-fi prompts

Create a murder mystery game

Murder mystery riddles

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Creative Primer

25 Creative Writing Prompts to Ignite Your Creativity

Brooks Manley

Creative writing is a vast and dynamic field that offers a platform for individuals to express their ideas, emotions, and stories in an imaginative and original way. It plays a crucial role in enhancing communication skills, fostering empathy, and promoting a deep understanding of the human experience.

The Importance of Creative Writing

In the realm of literature and beyond, creative writing holds a pivotal role. It not only allows for personal expression but also fosters critical thinking, enhances vocabulary, and improves writing skills. From short stories and poetry to novels and screenplays, creative writing spans a wide array of genres and styles, offering endless opportunities for exploration and expression.

Furthermore, creative writing enables individuals to convey complex ideas and emotions that might otherwise remain unexpressed. It serves as a therapeutic medium, allowing writers to explore their feelings, thoughts, and experiences in a safe and constructive environment. It also enhances empathy as it requires writers to step into their characters’ shoes and see the world from different perspectives.

In the professional realm, creative writing skills are highly valued. They can lead to various creative writing jobs in fields like publishing, advertising, journalism, and content creation. For those interested in pursuing higher education in this field, you might want to explore whether a degree in creative writing is worth it .

How Prompts Can Ignite Creativity

While creative writing is an exciting field, it can sometimes be challenging to kickstart the creative process. This is where creative writing prompts come into play. These prompts are designed to ignite the imagination and inspire writers to create original and compelling pieces.

Creative writing prompts serve as a starting point, offering a concept, scenario, or question to explore. They help to overcome writer’s block, encourage experimentation with different styles and genres, and stimulate creative thinking. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a beginner, creative writing prompts can be an invaluable tool to spark creativity and enhance your writing skills.

In the following sections, we will delve into the concept of creative writing prompts, explore various types, and provide a list of 50 prompts to inspire your creative writing journey. Whether you are looking to teach creative writing or seeking creative writing activities for kids , these prompts will serve as a valuable resource.

Don’t have a great blank or lined journal / notebook for writing? Check out our favorite journals for writing .

Understanding Creative Writing Prompts

When it comes to igniting creativity and fostering unique ideas, creative writing prompts play an invaluable role. They provide a starting point, a spark that can lead to a flame of inspiration for writers. In this section, we delve into the definition and various types of creative writing prompts.

What are Creative Writing Prompts?

Creative writing prompts are essentially ideas, questions, or topics that are designed to inspire and stimulate the creative writing process. They serve as a catalyst, helping to ignite the writer’s imagination and encourage them to explore new themes, concepts, or perspectives.

These prompts can take a myriad of forms. They might be a single word, a phrase, a sentence, or even an image. Regardless of the format, the goal of a creative writing prompt is to trigger thought and encourage writers to delve deeper into their creative psyche, producing unique and compelling pieces of writing. For more understanding of what creative writing entails, read our article on what is creative writing .

Types of Creative Writing Prompts

There are various types of creative writing prompts, each tailored to stimulate different forms of writing, cater to various genres, or inspire certain ideas. Here are a few types you might encounter:

  • Fiction Writing Prompts : These prompts are designed to inspire stories. They might provide a setting, a character, a conflict, or a plot point to kick-start the writer’s imagination.
  • Non-Fiction Writing Prompts : These prompts are geared towards non-fiction writing, such as essays, memoirs, or journalistic pieces. They might pose a question, present a topic, or propose a perspective for the writer to explore.
  • Poetry Writing Prompts : These prompts are tailored for writing poetry. They could suggest a theme, a form, a line, or a poetic device to be used in the poem.
  • Dialogue Writing Prompts : These prompts focus on conversations and are designed to inspire dialogue-driven pieces. They generally provide a line or a snippet of conversation to act as a starting point.
  • Story Starter Writing Prompts : These prompts serve as the opening line or the first paragraph of a story. The writer’s task is to continue the narrative from there.

Understanding the different types of creative writing prompts is essential to making the most of them. Choosing the right type of prompt can help target specific writing skills, push boundaries of creativity, and provide the necessary spark to bring your ideas to life. As we delve further into creative writing prompts , we’ll explore how to effectively use these prompts and tips to expand on them.

25 Creative Writing Prompts

Using creative writing prompts is a great way to jumpstart your creativity and get the ideas flowing. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a beginner, these prompts can help inspire your next piece. Here, we’ve broken down 50 prompts into five categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, dialogue, and story starters.

Fiction Writing Prompts

Fiction allows writers to flex their imaginative muscles. The following prompts can help to stir up new ideas for a unique storyline:

  • Write a story where the main character finds an old, mysterious letter in the attic.
  • Imagine a world where animals can talk.
  • Create a tale where a character discovers they have a superpower.
  • Write about a character who wakes up in a different era.
  • Write a story set in a world where money doesn’t exist.

Non-Fiction Writing Prompts

Non-fiction writing can help you explore real-life experiences and lessons. Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • Write about a time when you faced a significant challenge and how you overcame it.
  • Describe the most influential person in your life.
  • Share a moment when you learned a valuable lesson.
  • Write about an unforgettable trip.
  • Discuss a current event that has impacted you personally.

Poetry Writing Prompts

Poetry allows for artistic expression through words. These prompts can inspire new verses:

  • Write a poem about a dream you can’t forget.
  • Create a sonnet about the changing seasons.
  • Write about an emotion without naming it directly.
  • Craft a poem inspired by a piece of art.
  • Pen a haiku about nature’s power.

Dialogue Writing Prompts

Dialogue writing can help you improve your dialogue creation skills. Try these prompts:

  • Write a conversation between two people stuck in an elevator.
  • Describe a heated argument between a character and their best friend.
  • Create a dialogue where a character reveals a deep secret.
  • Write an exchange between a detective and a suspect.
  • Craft a conversation between two people who speak different languages.

Story Starter Writing Prompts

Story starters are great for sparking an idea for a story. Here are some to try:

  • “When she opened the door, she couldn’t believe her eyes…”
  • “He’d waited his whole life for this moment, and now…”
  • “It was a town like no other, because…”
  • “She was the last person on earth, or so she thought…”
  • “The letter arrived, marked with a seal she didn’t recognize…”

These creative writing prompts are designed to challenge you and spark your creativity. Remember, the goal is not to create a perfect piece of writing but to ignite your imagination and hone your writing skills. You can always revise and refine your work later. For more on the art of writing, check out our article on what is creative writing .

Making the Most of Your Creative Writing Prompts

Now that you have a list of creative writing prompts at your disposal, it’s important to understand how to utilize them effectively. The value of a prompt lies not just in the initial idea it provides, but also in how it can be expanded and developed into a full-blown piece of writing.

How to Use Creative Writing Prompts Effectively

Using creative writing prompts effectively requires an open mind and a willingness to explore. Here are some strategies to make the most of your prompts:

  • Brainstorming: Allow yourself to brainstorm ideas after reading the prompt. Jot down whatever comes to mind without self-judgment or censorship.
  • Freedom: Give yourself the freedom to interpret the prompt in your own way. Remember, prompts are starting points, not rigid guidelines.
  • Experimentation: Experiment with different genres, perspectives, and writing styles. A prompt can be turned into a poem, a short story, or even a script for a play.
  • Consistency: Try to write regularly. Whether you choose to do this daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, consistency can help develop your writing skills.
  • Reflection: Reflect on the prompt and your writing. Consider what worked, what didn’t, and what you would like to improve in your next piece.

For a more comprehensive guide on how to dive into the world of creative writing, check out our article on what is creative writing .

Tips for Expanding on a Prompt

Expanding on a prompt involves transforming a simple idea into a fully developed narrative. Here are a few tips:

  • Character Development: Flesh out your characters. Give them backgrounds, motivations, and flaws to make them more relatable and interesting.
  • Plot Building: Develop a coherent plot. Consider the key events, conflicts, and resolutions that will drive your story forward.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: Show the reader what’s happening through vivid descriptions and actions rather than simply telling them.
  • Dialogue: Use dialogue to reveal character traits and advance the plot. Make sure it’s natural and adds value to your story.
  • Editing: Review and revise your work. Look for areas where you can improve clarity, tighten your prose, and eliminate any inconsistencies or errors.

By using these strategies, you can take full advantage of creative writing prompts and improve your writing skills. Whether you’re pursuing a career in creative writing or just looking for a new hobby, these tips can help you unlock your full creative potential. For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and how to teach creative writing .

Also, don’t miss our master list of more than 250 journal prompts .

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

creative writing ideas and activities

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

Here’s my favorite journal for 2024: 

the five minute journal

Gratitude Journal Prompts Mindfulness Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Anxiety Reflective Journal Prompts Healing Journal Prompts Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Journal Prompts Mental Health Journal Prompts ASMR Journal Prompts Manifestation Journal Prompts Self-Care Journal Prompts Morning Journal Prompts Evening Journal Prompts Self-Improvement Journal Prompts Creative Writing Journal Prompts Dream Journal Prompts Relationship Journal Prompts "What If" Journal Prompts New Year Journal Prompts Shadow Work Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Overcoming Fear Journal Prompts for Dealing with Loss Journal Prompts for Discerning and Decision Making Travel Journal Prompts Fun Journal Prompts

Is a Degree in Creative Writing Worth it?

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18+ Creative Writing Activities To Make Writing Fun

Make writing less boring with these 12 fun creative writing activities for kids. 

When most children think of writing, they think of lined paper with thousands of words written on it, line by line with the occasional spacing for paragraphs. But writing doesn’t need to be that boring and gloomy. Today we bring you12 creative writing activities to make writing fun and colourful!

How to Make Writing Fun

It is important to show your kids that there’s more to writing than just homework and long essays. Writing can be fun and it doesn’t always involve writing thousands of words in a formal structure. It’s time to stop worrying about sentence structure, grammar and spelling mistakes. Instead, encourage your kids to explore their creativity and write down their thoughts as they come in any format they like. Here are 12 fun creative writing activities that will boost your child’s creativity, imagination and encourage them to write for fun.

18+ Fun Creative Writing Activities

Use story maps.

Story maps are a great way to unleash your child’s imagination. You can either create your own or print out one of these free story map templates . To create your own story map, you’ll first need a location. This could be anywhere, a planet , an island , the woods or even your hometown. Don’t worry, you don’t actually need to leave your home to enjoy this activity. 

Next draw out a simple map of the location. The map must have a starting point and an endpoint. Here is an example of our treasure island story map:

Island Story Map Example

You can see that we marked the starting point with a star. And the end point with a red cross. Once this is done, you need to put loads of obstacles, challenges and interesting things on the map for your child to explore and engage with in their imagination. This could be a giant octopus monster, a lava lake, a cunning princess or even some secret symbols or lettering. 

Once you have completed creating your action-packed story map (or printed out one of our free templates) – It’s time for the real adventure to begin. Give the map to your child and together you can pretend that you have landed in a whole new location. 

Start from your bedroom (or your imaginary pirate ship) and make your way through the obstacles to find the secret treasure located in a mysterious cave (or the shed in your backyard). As you go through the map, think about the characters you might encounter, items you might find and even challenges you could face.

After your little adventure, your child will be inspired and ready to write about the adventure they just experienced! Go ahead and check out these free story map templates to get you started:

  • Forest Story Map
  • Island Story map

Create Some Paper Finger Puppets

Puppets and toys are a great way to stimulate imaginative play. In particular, creating your own paper finger puppets is a brilliant creative activity to boost your child’s imagination and make story-telling more fun. When creating your own finger puppets, your child can create any character they like. If they love football , try creating some famous football players, and if they love Harry Potter , get them to create some wizard themed characters. Whatever your child’s interest, combine it with story-telling, and make storytime extra fun.

make paper finger puppets tutorial

To get you started, you can download our free paper finger puppet templates by signing up to Imagine Forest:

free printable paper finger puppets template

Create your own paper characters, props and background. Then let the role-playing begin!

Would You Rather Game

Kids love playing games. The Would You Rather game is a great way to boost logical thinking and communication skills. Print out our free Would You Rather game cards pack, to get a mix of funny, gross and Disney themed questions. Then get at least three players in a team to begin the game. The purpose of the game is to convince the whole team that your answer to the question is the best one and to get other players to agree with you. This game is guaranteed to get your kids laughing and thinking logically about the answers they pick. 

would-you-rather-questions-printable

Telephone Pictionary Game

Another brilliant creative writing activity is the Telephone Pictionary Game . The basic idea behind this game is to write a story collaboratively with your team using drawings and phrases. Together as team members take turns to write/draw something down. They’ll be improving skills such as creativity, teamwork and communication skills. And when the game is over, they’ll have a really funny story to read!

Telephone Pictionary

Create Some Shape Poetry

Poetry is a quick and short writing activity to get kids engaged in creative writing. But writing a typical haiku or limerick can get boring over time. To add a little more excitement gets your kids to write poems in the shape of something. For example, your child could write a poem about cats , in the shape of a cat:

Cat Shape Poem Example

Not only are these poems great to read, but they also make wonderful pieces of artwork. For more inspirations, check out our Alice in Wonderland inspired shape poetry .

Finish The Story Game

The finish the story game is the simplest creative writing activity in our list. In a team of at least 2 players, each player takes turns completing a story. Start off with a random story starter and then each player takes turns to continue this story. Which way will the story go? No-one knows. And that’s the real beauty of this game. Let your child explore their imagination and come up with wild ideas to keep the story interesting. And by the end of the game, you’ll have a really unique and funny story to read. 

Use Image Prompts

Image prompts are a great source of inspiration. And can be used in a number of ways to encourage your child to write. For instance, you can ask your child to write a quick snappy slogan for a random image or photograph. Alternatively, you could play a whole game centred around a single image, such as the Round Robin Tournament game explained in our post on storytelling games using image prompts .

Story Cubes To Inspire

Inspiration is key in making writing fun for kids. That’s where story cubes come in handy. You either buy ready-made story cubes or make your own story cubes at home. If you’re interested in making your own story cubes, check out these 9 free story cube templates for ideas. Once you have a bunch of story cubes, you can simply roll them like dice and then challenge your kids to write a story based on the images they get. For game ideas using story cubes, check out this post on how to use story cubes . 

story cube images story

Create A Comic Strip

If your kids hate writing but love drawing, then comic strips are a great creative activity to sneak in some minor writing with huge levels of imagination. Pick a topic, any topic you like. This could be related to your child’s interest and then ask them to create a short comic strip about that topic. For example, if you child loves dinosaurs, ask them to create their own comic strip about dinosaurs. For more inspiration and ideas, check out this post on how to create your own comic strip and comic books at home. 

Comic Strip Example

Make Your Own Pop-up Book

Another fun way to get your kids to write more is by creating your own pop-book books. Pop-up books seem really complicated to create, but in reality, they are really easy to make at home. All you need is some paper, scissors and glue. Check out this super easy tutorial on how to create your own pop-book at home for quick step-by-step instructions. Similar to comic strips, pop-up books are a great way of combining drawing with writing to get your kids writing more in a quick and fun way. 

easy pop-up book tutorial for kids

Create Mini Booklets

Turn your child’s story into a real book! You can buy blank books from Amazon or create your own mini paper book, using this easy mini notebook tutorial . With this tutorial you can create a fully customisable book, with your own cover, back page and you can even draw your own illustrations inside! This is a really fun and cute way to gets your kids writing in their spare time.

How to Make a Mini Paper Notebook Tutorial

Write A Letter With a Fun Twist

Forgot ordinary boring letters! Check out our Paper craft animal envelopes to encourage your kids to write letters to their friends, family, heroes, aliens, anyone they like! Inside the child can write any message they like, such as “how were your holidays…” or “We’re having a party this weekend…” And on the outside they can create any animal or creature they like as envelopes. 

DIY Animal Envelopes tutorial

Describe a Monster

Ask your child to draw their own monster or character and describe it. – What are its strengths, and weaknesses, where does it live, what does it like doing and so on? This creative writing activity is quick, simple and full of imagination! And you could even take this a step further by creating your own monster flip books !

How to create a Monster Flip Book

Use Story Starters

Use story starters to inspire reluctant writers. These can be simple sentences, such as “It was Timmy’s first day at school and he was excited…” and your child can continue writing the rest of the story. Or you could use photos and your child’s drawings to inspire story-writing by asking the child to describe what’s happening in this image. Take a look at this post on 60+ first-line prompts to inspire you or you could view our mega list of over 300 writing prompts for kids .

Create Your Own Greeting Cards

Get your child to create their own Christmas cards , greeting cards or get well cards to send to someone they know. They can write their own personal message inside and draw a picture on the outside. Quick activities like this are a great way to sneak in some writing with some arts and crafts. 

step-5-pop-up-christmas-tree-card-tutorial-for-kids-imagine-forest

Create Your Own Newspaper

Ask your child to write their own newspaper article or create their own newspaper about the daily events that happen at home or at school. Remember the use of the 5 W’s and 1 H when writing newspaper articles. Our newspaper challenge online activity is great for creating fun newspaper articles.

imagine forest newspaper writing activity

Make A Shopping List

Get the kids involved in the weekly grocery shopping! Ask them to write the shopping list with drawings. If the grocery shopping list is too boring, then get them to create a wish list of items they dream of owning or even a list of goals they want to accomplish. You can buy some really pretty shopping list pads from Amazon , which could be a great way to encourage your kids to get writing!

Re-tell some fairytales

Fairytales have been around for centuries and by now they need a modern twist. Challenge your child to update an old classic. And you could even use this free ‘Retell a fairy tale pack ’ to help you. Re-telling a fairytale is a lot easier than creating a whole new one – Simply ask your child to change one or two key elements in the story and see how it changes the entire fairytale. For example, what if Cinderella was the villain? Alternatively, you could go wacky and add a whole new character to a classic fairytale, such as Spiderman making an appearance in Jack and the Beanstalk. The possibilities really are endless!

Write Your Own Movie Script

Ask your child to write their own short movie script, they can create a cast list and give all the different characters different things to say. You can find a free script and cast list template here ! Think about the conversation between the characters, what problems would they encounter, who is the villain in this story? We also think these free finger puppets printable could be great for story-telling.

creative writing ideas and activities

Hand-written Blogs

Ask your child to keep a simple hand-written blog about their hobbies and interests. This can be done in a journal or notebook. Ask them the following questions: What do they like doing in their spare time and why do they enjoy this. Maybe ask them to provide instructions on how someone else can also be good at this hobby. They can update their hand-written blog everyday with new tips and interesting pieces of information on their hobby.

Wanted Posters

Create a ‘Wanted’ poster for famous villains in storybooks, such as Miss Trunchbull from Matilda or Cinderella’s Stepmother. You can find a free blank template here . Alternatively try out the Most Wanted online activity on Imagine Forest, to create your own wanted posters online:

most wanted online writing game

Storyboarding

Writing a whole story down can be cumbersome. That’s why storyboarding can make a really good creative writing activity. Instead of asking a child to write a whole story down, get them to think about the key events in the story and plan it out using a storyboard template . Planning their story out beforehand could even encourage your child to write a complete story down afterwards. The first step is always planning out what you are going to write, and this could give your child the confidence to keep going. 

Storyboard Template Completed

Know anymore fun writing activities for kids? Tell us your ideas below.

Top 10 Writing Activities to Make Writing Fun!

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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✍️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

This curated directory of creative writing exercises was conceived thanks to a collaboration between the top writing blogs of 2024. Use the filters to find and practice specific techniques — and show that blank page who’s boss!

We found 119 exercises that match your search 🔦

The Hammer and the Hatchet

A stranger walks into the general store and buys a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, and an apple. What does he do with them?

Writer's Block

Picket fence.

Describe your house - or the dream house you hope to get some day.

Telephone Directory

It is commonly known that a telephone directory might be the most boring text in the entire world. Here is your challenge: write a page of a telephone directory and figure out SOME way to make it interesting.

creative writing ideas and activities

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Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms. Just write eight lines of any length that flow and explore some aspect of character, setting, or theme.

  • Why are you grumpy? I have a hangover.
  • Why do you have a hangover? My friend was in a bad accident and I thought he might die?
  • Why did you think he might die? His girlfriend lied to me about how serious the accident was.
  • Why did she lie about that? She's jealous of our relationship.
  • Why? I think she's insecure and has trust issues.

Character Development

The ellen degeneres show.

A talk show is scripted to promote the guest and discuss topics with which the guest is comfortable. Imagine your protagonist on the Ellen Degeneres Show (or The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - whichever show you're familiar with). What questions would be asked of your protagonist? What funny anecdotes would your protagonist share? Write down the reactions of both your protagonist and the host.

  • You could say it began with a phone call."
  • Michael had watched them both for weeks."
  • She remembered the way it was the first time she saw the prison."
  • Midsummer, no time to be in New Orleans."
  • With the dawn came the light."

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50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

creative writing ideas and activities

Good question.

Creative writing exercises are designed to teach a technique. They are highly specific, more specific than creative writing prompts, and much more specific than story generators.

Creative writing exercises for adults are not designed to lead the writer into crafting a full story, but are only designed to help them improve as a writer in a narrow, specific category of writing skills.

I’ve broken the exercises below into categories so you can choose what category of skill you’d like to practice. Can you guess which category in this list has the most prompts?

If you guessed characters, then you’re right. I think characters are the heart blood of every story, and that a majority of any writing prompts or writing exercises should focus on them.

But I also think any of these will help you create a narrative, and a plot, and help you generate all kinds of dialogue, whether for short stories or for novels. These writing exercises are pretty much guaranteed to improve your writing and eliminate writer’s block. 

Also, if you’re a fledgling writer who needs help writing their novel, check out my comprehensive guide to novel writing.

Enjoy the five categories of writing exercises below, and happy writing!

five senses

1. Think of the most deafening sound you can imagine. Describe it in great detail, and have your character hear it for the first time at the start of a story.

2. Have a man cooking for a woman on a third date, and have her describe the aromas in such loving and extended detail that she realizes that she’s in love with him.

3. Pick a line from one of your favorite songs, and identify the main emotion. Now write a character who is feeling that emotion and hears the song. Try to describe the type of music in such a beautiful way that you will make the reader yearn to hear the song as well.

4. Have a character dine at a blind restaurant, a restaurant in pitch blackness where all the servers are blind, and describe for a full paragraph how the tablecloth, their clothing, and the hand of their dining partner feels different in the darkness.

5. Select a dish representative of a national cuisine, and have a character describe it in such detail that the reader salivates and the personality of the character is revealed.

Dialogue exercises

7. Describe two characters having a wordless conversation, communicating only through gestures. Try to see how long you can keep the conversation going without any words spoken, but end it with one of them saying a single word, and the other one repeating the same word.

8. In a public place from the last vacation you took, have two characters arguing, but make it clear by the end of the argument that they’re not arguing about what they’re really upset about.

9. Write a scene composed mostly of dialogue with a child talking to a stranger. Your mission is to show the child as heartbreakingly cute. At the same time, avoid sentimentality. 

10. Have two character have a conversation with only a single word, creating emphasis and context so that the word communicates different things each time it is spoken. The prime example of this is in the television show “The Wire,” where Jimmy and Bunk investigate a crime scene repeating only a single expletive.

creative writing ideas and activities

11. Pick an object that is ugly, and create a character who finds it very beautiful. Have the character describe the object in a way that convinces the reader of its beauty. Now write a second version where you convince the reader (through describing the object alone) that the character is mentally unstable.

12. Write down five emotions on slips of paper and slip them into a hat. Now go outside and find a tree. Draw one emotion from the hat, and try to describe that tree from the perspective of a character feeling that emotion. (Don’t mention the emotion in your writing — try to describe the tree so the reader could guess the emotion).

13. Describe a character’s bedroom in such a way that it tells us about a person’s greatest fears and hopes.

14. Root through your desk drawer until you find a strange object, an object that would probably not be in other people’s drawers. Have a character who is devastated to find this object, and tell the story of why this object devastates them.

15. Go to an art-based Pinterest page and find your favorite piece of art. Now imagine a living room inspired by that flavor of artwork, and show the room after a husband and wife have had the worst fight of their marriage.

16. Pick a simple object like a vase, a broom, or a light bulb, and write a scene that makes the reader cry when they see the object.

creative writing ideas and activities

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creative writing ideas and activities

17. Make a list of the top five fears in your life. Write a character who is forced to confront one of those fears.

18. Write an entire page describing the exact emotions when you learned of a happy or calamitous event in your life. Now try to condense that page into a single searing sentence.

19. Think about a time in your life when you felt shame. Now write a character in a similar situation, trying to make it even more shameful.

20. Write a paragraph with a character struggle with two conflicting emotions simultaneously. For example, a character who learns of his father’s death and feels both satisfaction and pain.

21. Write a paragraph where a character starts in one emotional register, and through a process of thought, completely evolves into a different emotion.

Characters:

creative writing ideas and activities

22. Create a minor character based upon someone you dislike. Now have your main character encounter them and feel sympathy and empathy for them despite their faults.

23. Have a kooky character tell a story inside a pre-established form: an instruction manual, traffic update, email exchange, weather report, text message.

24. Write about a character who does something they swore they would never do.

25. Have a character who has memorized something (the names of positions in the Kama Sutra, the entire book of Revelations) recite it while doing something completely at odds with what they’re reciting. For instance, bench pressing while reciting the emperors in a Chinese dynasty.

26. Write a paragraph where a character does a simple action, like turning on a light switch, and make the reader marvel at how strange and odd it truly is.

27. Have a couple fight while playing a board game. Have the fight be about something related to the board game: fighting about money, have them play monopoly. Fighting about politics, let them play chess.

28. Write about two characters angry at each other, but have both of them pretend the problems don’t exist. Instead, have them fight passive-aggressively, through small, snide comments.

29. Describe a character walking across an expanse field or lot and describe how he walks. The reader should perfectly understand his personality simply by the way you describe his walk.

30. Write a first-person POV of a character under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and try to make the prose as woozy and tipsy as the character.

31. Describe the first time that a character realizes he is not as smart as he thought.

32. Describe an hour in the life of a character who has recently lost their ability to do what they love most (a pianist who has severe arthritis; a runner who became a quadriplegic).

33. Write an argument where a husband or wife complains of a physical ailment, but their spouse refuses to believe it’s real.

34. Write a scene where a stranger stops your main character, saying that they know them, and insisting your main character is someone they are not. Describe exactly how this case of mistaken identity makes your character feel.

35. Describe a small personality trait about a person you love, and make the reader love them, too.

36. Write a personality-revealing scene with a character inside a public restroom. Do they press a thumb against the mirror to leave a subtle mark? Do they write a plea for help on the inside of the stall door? Do they brag about the size of what they’ve just dumped off?

37. Give your character an extremely unusual response to a national tragedy like a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Maybe have them be aware their response is unusual, and try to cloak it from others, or have them be completely unaware and display it without any self-consciousness.

38. Have one of your main characters come up with an idea for a comic book, and tell a close friend about the idea. What about this idea would surprise the friend, upsetting what he thought he knew about your main character? Also, what would the main character learn about himself from the comic book idea?

39. Think of an illness someone you love has suffered from. How does your character respond when someone close to them has this illness?

40. Have your main character invent an extremely offensive idea for a book, and show their personality faults through discussing it with others.

41. Have your character write down a list considering how to respond to their stalker.

42. Write a scene where a man hits on a woman, and although the woman acts repulsed and begs her friends to get him away from her, it becomes apparent that she likes the attention.

43. Write about a 20-something confronting his parents over their disapproval of his lifestyle.

44. Have your character write a funny to-do list about the steps to get a boyfriend or girlfriend.

45. Have a risk-adverse character stuck in a hostage situation with a risk-happy character.

46. For the next week, watch strangers carefully and take notes in your phone about any peculiar gestures or body language. Combine the three most interesting ones to describe a character as she goes grocery shopping.

47. Buy a package of the pills that expand into foam animals, and put a random one in a glass of warm water. Whatever it turns out to be, have that animal surprise your main character in a scene.

48. Have your character faced with a decision witness a rare, awe-inspiring event, and describe how it helps them make their decision.

49. Imagine if your character met for the first time his or her long-lost identical twin. What personality traits would they share and which ones would have changed because of their unique experiences? 

50. If a character got burned by a hot pan, what type of strange reaction would they have that would reveal what they value most?

Once you’ve taken a stab at some of these exercises, I’d recommend you use them in your actual writing.

And for instruction on that, you need a guide to writing your novel . 

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Creative Writing Exercises

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32 comments

John Fox, you have some excellent resources, and I thank you. I read your comments, then scrolled down to glance at the list of 50 exercises. The FIRST one, “loud noise’ is already in my head. My Hero is going to be side swiped in my Cozy. I was side swiped on a state highway here in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and, although the damage was minor, the sound of that big SUV “glancing” off my little car was SCARY!!! I once heard a fast-moving car REAR-END is stand-still car; that sound was something I’ll never forget. So, your exercise is very timely. THANK YOU!!!

This is a great list! Thanks!

You know what would be motivating? If we could turn these in to someone and get like a grade lol

I’ve been thinking a lot about “how to master writing,” and this is the first time that I found an article that makes it clear the difference between prompts and exercises. I fully agree with you. These are bound to make you a better writer if you focus on doing a variation of them daily.

An excellent list – thank you very much. I run a small writing group and we’ll be trying some.

Yes, thank you. I too run a small writing group and you got me out of a slump for tomorrow’s group!

yes,thank you . It’s good for improve your writing skills.

  • Pingback: Writing Exercises for Adults That Can Help You Write Better

What a lovely list! I am working on the final draft of my very first novel, and am constantly working at improving the final product. Your exercises are just what I need to kickstart my writing day. Thank you so very much.

Thank you very much When I turned50 I received my diploma from Children’s Institute in West Redding Ct I got my inspiration from being near water however now that I am in Oregon I have had a writing block thanks to your list my creative juices are flowing

I suppose I better have good punctuation, seeing this is about Writing. Thank you for this great list. I am the Chair of our small Writing group in Otorohanga and we start again last week of Feb. I have sent out a homework email, to write a A4 page of something exciting that has happened over the holiday break and they must read it out to the group with passion and excitement in their voices. That will get them out of their comfort zone!

A formidable yet inspiring list. Thank you very much for this. This is really very helpful. I am from India, and very new to writing and have started my first project, which I want to make it into a Novel. This has been very helpful and is very challenging too. Prompts look sissy when compared to this, frankly speaking. Thank you very much again.

Where can I get the answers for these?

There aren’t “answers.” You create responses to these exercises.

Thank you so much for the detailed suggestions focusing on HOW to put the WHAT into practice; really helpful & inspiring.

Just started rough drafting a story I’ve always wanted to write. Do you have any advice for someone writing their first real story? I’m having trouble starting it; I just want it to be perfect.

I consider this very helpful. Just started my journey as a creative writer, and will be coming back to this page to aid my daily writing goal.

I have always loved writing exercises and these are perfect practice for my competition. I have tried lots of different things that other websites have told me to try, but this by far is the most descriptive and helpful site that i have seen so far.

This is really a creative blog. An expert writer is an amateur who didn’t stop. I trust myself that a decent writer doesn’t actually should be advised anything but to keep at it. Keep it up!

I’ve always enjoyed writing from a little girl. Since I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously as does everybody else it seems; I’ve lost the fun and sponteneity. Until now…..this is a marvelous blog to get back the basic joy and freedom in writing. Or should that be of?:) These exercises are perfect to get the creative juices flowing again…..thank you:)

These are interesting exercises for writing.

These are fantastic! I started reading a really awesome book on creative writing but it just didn’t get any good or easy to follow exercises. So I found your site and having been having a lot of fun with these. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

creative and inspiring, thank you

I always wanted to have an exercise where a friend and I each wrote a random sentence and sent it to each other to write a short story from that beginning sentence, then exchange the stories for reading and/or critique. Maybe both writers start with the same sentence and see how different the stories turn out.

Thanks for these exercises. Some are really challenging. To truly tackle them I’m having to spend as long beforehand thinking “how the HECK am I going to do this?” as I do with ink on paper. Would be a great resource if other authors submitted their replies and thoughts about how they went about each exercise.

Start the conversation: submit one of yours.

I think I can use these to inspire my students.

Hi there. Thank you for posting this list- it’s great! Can I ask you to consider removing number 42 or perhaps changing it somewhat? I teach sex ed and every year am shocked by how many young people don’t understand issues around consent. Stories about woman who ‘say no but really mean yes’ are deeply unhelpful. Really appreciate your post but felt I had to ask. Thanks.

What’s wrong with the number 42?

It promulgates the belief that when a woman says no, she doesn’t mean it, potentially resulting in sexual assault.

I just make this list a part of my teaching in Creative Writing Classes. Very good list of ideas!

Thank you so much for posting this! I have used it to create a creative playwriting activity for my high school creative writing class–so much good stuff here for me to pick through and select for my kiddos that will allow them to shine and improve their knowledge of writing as a craft!

creative writing ideas and activities

Every writer NEEDS this book.

It’s a guide to writing the pivotal moments of your novel.

Whether writing your book or revising it, this will be the most helpful book you’ll ever buy.

creative writing ideas and activities

55 Creative Writing Activities and Exercises

Creating writing activities

Have you ever heard these questions or statements from your students?

  • I don’t know where to begin.
  • How can I make my story interesting?
  • I’m just not creative.
  • What should my story be about?

If so, you won’t want to miss these creative writing activities. 

What Are Creative Writing Activities?

Activities that teach creative writing serve as drills to exercise your student’s writing muscle. When used effectively, they help reluctant writers get past that intimidating blank paper and encourage the words to flow. 

When I think of creative writing exercises , writing prompts immediately come to mind. And, yes, writing from a prompt is certainly an example of a creative writing activity (a highly effective one). 

However, writing prompts are only one way to teach creative writing. Other types of activities include games, collaboration with others, sensory activities, and comic strip creation to name a few.

Unlike writing assignments, creative writing activities aren’t necessarily meant to create a perfectly polished finished project. 

Instead, they serve as more of a warmup and imagination boost.

Picture-based writing exercises are especially fun. You can download one for free below!

Creative Writing Exercises

get this picture prompt printable for free!

How to use creative writing exercises effectively.

When teaching creative writing , the most effective exercises inspire and engage the student. 

Remember that worn-out prompt your teacher probably hauled out every year? 

“What I Did This Summer…” 

Cue the groaning. 

Instead of presenting your student with lackluster topics like that one, let’s talk about ways to engage and excite them. 

For Kids or Beginners

Early writers tend to possess misconceptions about writing. Many picture sitting down for hours straight, polishing a story from beginning to end. 

Even for experienced writers, this is next-to-impossible to do. It’s preconceived ideas like these that overwhelm and discourage students before they’ve even started. 

Instead of assigning an essay to complete, start with simple, short writing exercises for elementary students such as:

  • Creating comic strips using a template
  • Talking out loud about a recent dream
  • Writing a poem using rhyming words you provide
  • Creating an acrostic from a special word

Creative writing exercises don’t have to end in a finished piece of work. If the exercise encouraged creative thinking and helped the student put pen to paper, it’s done its job. 

For Middle School

Creative writing activities for middle school can be a little more inventive. They now have the fundamental reading and writing skills to wield their words properly. 

Here are some ideas for middle school writing exercises you can try at home:

  • Creating Mad Lib-style stories by changing out nouns, verbs, and adjectives in their favorite tales
  • Storyboarding a short film
  • Writing a family newsletter
  • Creating crossword puzzles

For High School 

Your high school student may be starting to prepare for college essays and other important creative writing assignments. 

It’s more critical than ever for her to exercise her writing skills on a regular basis. 

One great way to keep your high schooler’s mind thinking creatively is to have her make “listicles” of tips or facts about something she’s interested in already. 

Another fun and effective creative writing exercise for high school is to have your student retell classic stories with a twist. 

List of 55 Creative Writing Activities for Students of All Ages

No matter what age range your students may be, I think you’ll find something that suits their personality and interests in this list of creative writing ideas. Enjoy! 

  • Using only the sense of hearing, describe your surroundings. 
  • Write a paragraph from your shoes’ point of view. How do they view the world? What does a “day in the life of a shoe” look like?
  • Imagine what the world will be like in 200 years. Describe it. 
  • Write a letter to someone you know who moved away. What has he or she missed? Should he or she move back? Why? 
  • Make up an imaginary friend. What does he or she look like? What does he or she like to do?
  • Create a story about a person you know. Use as many details as possible.
  • Write a poem that describes a place you have been.
  • Soak up the season you’re in with seasonal creative writing prompts. Here are some ideas for fall and winter .
  • Write a song where each line starts with the next letter in the alphabet. 
  • Create a list of words related to something you love.
  • Write a short story based on a true event in your life.
  • Rewrite a chapter of your favorite book from the antagonist’s point of view. 
  • Write a letter to your future self. What do you want to make sure you remember?
  • Go on a five-senses scavenger hunt. Find three items for each sense. Create a story using the items you found. 
  • Create a story around an interesting picture ( try these fun picture writing prompts! )
  • Find an ad in a magazine or elsewhere and rewrite the description to convince people NOT to buy the advertised item.
  • Write a story using the last word of each sentence as the first word of the next.
  • Describe everything you’re sensing right now, using all five senses.
  • Write a list of animals A to Z with a one-sentence description of each one. Feel free to include imaginary animals.
  • Design your dream room in detail.
  • Write a script of yourself interviewing a famous person. Include his or her answers.
  • Describe what high school would be like if you lived on the moon. What would you be learning about? How would you be learning it?
  • Describe a day in the life of a famous person in history. Include both mundane and exciting details of things they may have experienced on a normal day.
  • Pick up something on a bookshelf or end table nearby. Now write a commercial script for it to convince your audience that they absolutely must own this thing.
  • Plan a birthday party for your best friend. Describe the decorations, food, and everything else.
  • Write a very short story about three siblings fighting over a toy. Now rewrite it twice, each time from a different character’s perspective.
  • Tell a story from the point of view of a pigeon on a city street.
  • Create a menu for a deli you’ll be opening soon. Name each sandwich after something or someone in real life and list the fillings and type of bread.
  • Pretend you just became famous for something. Write 3 exciting newspaper headlines about the topic or reason behind your newfound fame.
  • Keep a one-line-a-day journal. Every day, write down one thought or sentence about something that happened that day or how you felt about the day.
  • Have you ever had a nightmare? Write what happened but with a new ending where everything turns out okay (perhaps the monster was your dad in a costume, preparing to surprise you at your birthday party).
  • Write a “tweet” about something that happened to you recently, using only 140 characters. 
  • Take an important event in your life or the life of someone in your family. Write one sentence answering each of the 6 journalistic questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write nonstop, starting with the words “I remember.” If you get stuck, write “I remember” again until you get unstuck.
  • Pick something you use often (a toothbrush, your desk, etc). Then tell the story of how it was invented. If you don’t know, make something up.
  • Choose a princess or hero and write a one-paragraph story about him or her traveling to a distant land.
  • Pretend you are a tour guide for a local attraction. It can be a library, a park, or a museum, but it could also be a place that wouldn’t normally hold tours (such as an arcade). Write a speech about what you tell your tour group as you walk around the attraction.
  • Create a marketing brochure for your favorite activity or fun place to go.
  • Make a list of 10 future story settings. Write one sentence describing each. For example, “ in the dark, musty cellar of my grandmother’s house, surrounded by dried-up jars of canned peaches… ”
  • Make a list of foods included in a dinner party catered by the world’s worst cook, describing how each course looks, smells, and tastes. Include your reactions while eating it.
  • Write out your own version of instructions for playing your favorite game.
  • Pretend you’ve lost your sight for one night. Describe going out to eat at a restaurant, using smells, textures, and sounds to tell your story.
  • Write a script for an interesting phone conversation in which the reader can only hear one side. 
  • Tell the story of an object someone threw away from the perspective of the person who tossed it out. Then tell the story of that same object from the perspective of a person who finds it and deems it a treasure.
  • List your 3 least favorite chores. Pick one and write a one paragraph detailing why you can’t possibly complete that chore ever again.
  • Write an excerpt from your dog’s diary (pretend he keeps one).
  • Write the script for a movie trailer—real or imagined.
  • Create an acrostic for a holiday of your choice. 
  • Pretend you’re the master of a role-playing game, describing a sticky situation in which the other players now find themselves. Describe the scenario in writing.
  • Compose a funny or dramatic caption for a photo.
  • Parents, place a textured object in a box without letting your student see it. Have him or her reach in, touch the object, and then describe how it feels.
  • Write lyrics for a parody of a song.
  • Make a list of 10-20 songs that would be played if a movie was made about your life.
  • Describe the sounds, smells, sights, and textures you’d experience if you went to the beach for the day.
  • Write an election speech with ludicrous and impossible campaign promises.

One of the best ways to encourage students to write regularly is by providing fun creative writing activities . 

They serve to encourage both the habit and mindset of writing with imagination. If you need extra help with that, check out Creative Freewriting Adventure :

Creative Freewriting Adventure

bring excitement into your student’s writing – no prep required!

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Writing Forward

Unusual Writing Activities That Will Boost Your Creativity

by Melissa Donovan | Jul 6, 2021 | Creative Writing | 43 comments

unusual creative writing activities

Unusual writing activities.

Writing usually involves sitting in a chair and hammering away at a keyboard. It can get repetitive and mundane.

I have often found that when I need a boost of creativity, removing myself from my normal writing environment is a good way to get ideas flowing.

If you’re feeling stuck, try positioning your body differently. Get off that chair, step away from your desk, and try standing at a counter or sitting on the floor in front of a coffee table. Put yourself in a different environment—take your journal outside or carry your whiteboard to the garage to do some brainstorming. Lie on your stomach in the grass and scratch words, carve them, or paint them, and let the stimuli of your surroundings and the tools in your hands guide your creativity in a new direction.

Writing Activities

  • Supersize it: Get some oversized paper and sprawl out somewhere—like in the grass or on the floor. Use pens and pencils, and write until you fill up the entire sheet. Use big, enormous letters or itty bitty ones.
  • Colored Markers: A pack of colored markers doesn’t cost much, and once you’ve got them, you can use them to write on that oversized paper, and that makes the previous activity a lot more fun. Putting down your words in color might spark fresh writing ideas, so use your markers to write in your notebook or journal, on sticky notes, and even on scratch paper.
  • Sticky Notes: Try writing different parts of a story or poem on sticky notes. Limit yourself to a few words (for poetry) or just a line or two (for prose). On each sticky note, write a line of dialogue or some basic action ( she walked toward the door ). You’ll be writing in a tiny space, and that will make you choose your words more carefully. When you’re done, you can have fun patching all the sticky notes together to create a rough draft of sorts. As an alternative, you can use index cards for this activity.
  • Chalk it Up: Actually, chalk it down. Most department and toy stores sell big buckets of large, thick sidewalk chalk, which is perfect for marking up sidewalks and driveways. This is a fun exercise to do with kids, by the way. Chalk a poem or a piece of flash fiction. If you want to save it, take a photo before washing it all away.
  • Stand and Deliver: There are lots of ways you can write while standing. You can stand at a counter, for example, and write in your notebook. Try writing on a flat, vertical surface by taping paper to a wall, door, or window and then let your words flow. You can also use an easel or a whiteboard for this one.
  • Lie on the Grass: The trick is to lie directly on the grass. Do not use a blanket or a towel. Make contact with the green—or physically connect with a texture you’re not used to. If the grass is too damp or dirty for you, then try this on sand or pavement (I bet the pavement’s WAY dirtier than the grass). The important thing is to be outdoors, lying down, and writing.
  • Paint Your Words: You don’t need fancy paints or paintbrushes—a cheap set of watercolors from the school supply aisle will do. You might want to use that oversized paper for this one. Paint your story or poem instead of writing it, and if the mood strikes (and you’re feeling artistic), get some images in there too.
  • Get Old-School: Use a brush, quill, or dip pen and an inkwell (yes, they still make this stuff) — or get a bonafide fountain pen — and find out what it was like to be a writer hundreds of years ago. Remember, some of the greatest writers in history did it this way, dipping their nibs into the ink: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Emily Dickinson. If they could do it, you can too!
  • Scratching on Crayon: This an old trick that school-aged kids love: Use pastel crayons to color an entire sheet of paper. You can use a solid color, make rainbows, big bubbles, or stripes. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. When you’re done, go over the whole thing with the black crayon until it’s solid black. Now you can use your fingernail (or a sharp object, like a paper clip or the edge of a penny) to write by scratching off the black layer, and voila! Your writing reveals a rainbow of color beneath.
  • Ambidexterity: Are you right-handed? Write with your left hand. Left-handed? Use your right. It feels awkward at first, but if you concentrate, you should be able to scrawl something legible using your opposite hand (yes, I know this because I have actually done some of these crazy things. What? You think I make this stuff up?).
  • Stay at Your Computer: Okay, so you want to switch things up, but you just can’t pry yourself away from your beloved computer? You can still get creative. Try writing in white text on a black background. Or try lime green on a dark purple background. Zoom in and make your text huge, or zoom out and make it miniscule. Write bold or in italics. Find some unusual fonts on your computer and write with those. Try script fonts or big, bold fonts in different sizes.
  • Wear Your Words: All you need is a Sharpie (better yet, try some colored Sharpies) and a cheap, white tee shirt. Stretch the fabric around something firm, and start writing. Hey, if you ever become a world-famous novelist, that tee shirt is going to be worth big bucks!
  • Make a Mural: You can buy rolls of paper at art supply stores and even at home improvement stores. Roll it out and attach it to the wall. Masking tape works well for this, and a good place for this activity is on a garage door or a wall in a long hallway. Now you’re really mixing things up; you’re standing, writing on oversized paper, using a vertical surface, and as an added bonus, you can get out your colored markers and really liven things up.
  • Revisit Your Childhood: Earlier I mentioned writing with paints and paintbrushes. Try doing it with finger paints (I bet you’re going to need that oversized paper for this one). You’ll probably get dirty, so dress accordingly (you can wear that tee shirt you wrote on). This is another great one to do with kids.
  • Carvings: You’d be surprised at all the things you can carve — pieces of firewood, an old candle, your kitchen table. I’m kidding. Don’t wreck your kitchen table. But carving words slows down the writing process, which means you’ll put more thought into what you’re saying and you’ll take greater care with your grammar. Use a knife, an awl, or some other sharp instrument to whittle your words.
  • Shoe Boxes: Got an old shoe box lying around? I once co-wrote a story with a friend on the inside of a shoe box. Many years later, she found it and showed it to me. The story wasn’t half bad!

I’m sure there’s some scientific reasoning that explains why these writing activities turn up the heat on creativity. I’m no scientist, but I do know when my own creativity is in high gear. I have actually tried several of these unusual and quirky writing activities, and I clearly recall that they got me thinking in different ways. I almost always came up with things to write about that otherwise never would have occurred to me.

Are you willing to try any of these writing activities to see if they boost your creativity? Which ones sound the most fun? Why do you suppose changing your environment or writing in a different position or with different tools can stimulate creativity? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing!

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing

43 Comments

Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com

Ha! “Stay at Your Computer” is the easiest for me :). It’s scary how much addicted I am to it. But on other hand all good things come from it, seriously. I read, I write, I work, and I manage using it. But seriously, some of the ideas are really hit home with me and made me think – like “Eat Your Words” and “Wear Your Words”. Hmm… very creative 😉 Very helpful – thanks for sharing!

Melissa Donovan

Yep, it gets harder and harder to pry oneself away from the computer, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s all the more reason to try one of the other ones? Heheh.

Martin - Writing Prompts

Gotta be careful though. I find that I stay at the computer so much that I don’t make the time to write and get distracted too much. Sometimes, you just gotta take a step away from it all and get away from the technology to get the writing in gear.

That’s the truth! It’s so easy to just be on the computer 24/7. Sometimes we have to make a special effort to step away.

John Clise

I have been trying these ideas at various times over the years and find it to be fun to write in different ways. I had a friend who worked at a print shop for a while. He made these three foot by three foot “notebooks” and used jumbo pencils to create some of his work. He seemed to have a blast with it. He said it made him feel like he was in third grade again. I think he was trying to unlock the childhood wonder he had lost. I say keep writing.

Ooh, those notebooks sound like a lot of fun. We get mentally and physically used to a certain way of writing (or typing), and when we break out of that mold, not only does fun ensue, it also opens up new pathways to our creativity, which can be pretty exciting. I think the activities that work well for children, like finger painting, are especially helpful because when we think like children, our imaginations can really go wild — and that’s good for our creative writing.

Jessica

Melissa, I love this post and the posts like these. I am a subscriber to this blog, and I love your blog because of the combination of creativity and usefulness. I’m not saying this particularly well, but thanks for what you do.

Thank you so much, Jessica. Comments like yours always lift me up. This post is not my usual fare, and I woke up this morning wondering if it was too silly or over the top. The only thing keeping me grounded was the fact that I have tried many of these activities so I know they really do work. I appreciate your compliments, and I thank you for reading.

--Deb

You’re on a roll this week, Melissa. What a FUN post! I used to write all my letters with a dip pen and differently colored inks. (Fountain pens, of course, you fill once and the write until they’re empty.)

Another good one? Use your left hand if you’re right handed, or vice-versa…

Thanks, Deb! I had to use a dip pen and ink for a few projects in art class, and it’s much harder than I would have thought. You have to keep dipping and dipping. I did do some writing with it, just to see what it was like, and it was strange but kind of cool.

Barbara Swafford

I love the idea of writing with a fountain pen. I use to love writing with them and even took calligraphy classes. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll have to dig mine out. 🙂

Calligraphy has always impressed me – it’s so beautiful! In our fast-paced world, it’s hard to imagine that people actually once wrote everything like that.

Zoe

Yes, standing at a writing easel! I’m still trying to put something like that together. I’ll let you know if I make good progress 🙂

What a fun list!

Standing up and using oversized paper with markers is actually my favorite of all of these (I think). Using your arm to make bigger motions as you write (or draw) feels a lot different!

Bobby Revell

My favorite unusual writing tip have nothing to do with writing:

Spend two weeks with Indian shamans drinking witches brew and having spiritual revelations–thus changing your entire outlook from the deepest trenches out. Nothing will ever seem normal again. I wouldn’t recommend this to those with fragile psyches.

Cool Post! Excuse me while I write poetry on someones face 🙂

Bobby, that sounds very Jim Morrison .

I meant “has nothing to do with” hahaha!

Rebecca Laffar-Smith

It’s strange, but just the idea of trying to write on different paper, in super-size, or with anything other than my computer keys or my standard blue bic and lined paper makes me queasy. I’ve become so fixed in my way that these standard tools pull me into state. When I sit at my keys, or have my purple notebook in front of me, the words come. In any other form I sit there a bit dumbfounded, as if I’ve no idea what these strange tools are for.

Doing other creative arts with these medium is wonderful to flex my creativity. I just can’t begin to write that way. Draw, squiggle, paint, color, craft, but not write.

It’s interesting how we all form our own way of doing things and sometimes, habit becomes ingrained and unchangeable.

I think doing other creative arts is just as useful as doing any of the writing activities on this list. As long as we step away from our usual routine and mix things up, our creativity will shift a bit.

t.sterling

I’ve done #10 in an art class in high school, and would write lines of poetry with both hands, or write it upside down, or backwards as if I was in a mirror. I enjoyed the projects that involved writing in my art class, and we even got to go super old school with the pen and ink!

I did #8 when I was a wee child and although it was messy, it was fun.

And another thing to carve that I still find to be good clean fun: soap!

Great ideas though and I really want to take a stab at some of these someday. Probably when it’s warmer outside because I don’t think I’d enjoy laying face down in the snow for very long.

Soap is a great idea for carving! You’d probably need a fine, sharp tool though, so you could carve tiny letters. Speaking of snow, what about writing in that? I’ve only been to the snow a few times in my life, so I have no idea if that would work.

I don’t really like spending more time than I have to in cold weather, but it is possible to use snow that has frozen over as a hard writing surface (either due to freezing rain, or snow that started to melt and then freeze again). I’ve never tried it, but if you can stand on it without it breaking, it should be strong enough to write on. Writing or not, untouched frozen snow is extremely beautiful under a full moon. Perhaps I’ll write a poem about it so you can see for yourself.

As for the soap, I will have to dig out my sculpting tools and buy a few cakes. I’m thinking Ivory would be good. It floats!

Sounds like snow should be added to this list. I probably wouldn’t sit out in the freezing cold writing poetry in the snow, but it does sound romantic in a way. I’d love to read a poem about that!

You mention in your post a bit of wonderment as to why these activities get our minds whirring with writing ideas. I think the big thing is that they all involve a rich amount of creativity. As we get older, we seem to put our imaginations on the backburner and place more focus on the hard reality. But imagination’s where all the good ideas are!

I recently skimmed a book that talked about how children are playing more video games today and not really going outside as much. The book worried that this movement towards more concrete games would cause kids to lose more of their creative edge.

I’m going to try some of these ideas and I’ll let you know how they go!

Yes, there’s much worry about kids today and how being immersed in technology will affect the way they think and function. It’s a legitimate concern, I think. I also think that as a result, creativity may become a more highly valued commodity in the future. I’ve already seen incredibly talented people give up their arts and crafts to pursue video games, and it’s rather sad.

Anna Gladue

Hi! I don’t know if this is really unusual, but none of my writing buddies did this. When I told them about it, it really helped them.

Play “the Sims.”

I know that sounds weird, but the Sims is a great writing tool if you just need something to get you started. I’m not suggesting you use it for your full time writing.

Example : I had made a family, and put it on fast forward. The mom had the baby when no one was there expect the maid. So I wrote a story about how the maid delivered the child, and that was a springboard for my novel.

The game is also great if you’re having trouble making up surroundings, like a house, office building, park . . . its endless!

Oh yes, I used to play this game (warning: it’s addictive). I do like the idea of generating story ideas through game play – the Sims and many other games are good for this.

Mom

Don’t take writing for granted. Train your children to learn writing so that they won’t have a hard time catching up in their writing class. Effective and easy writing techniques await your children.

I agree that the best time to instill love of reading and basic writing skills is during childhood.

Paul

Hmm, very interesting, writing and the art of kinesthetics. I’m going to put a few of those ideas to use with my squirrely elementary writing students!

Jann

Back in the day “before computers”, I found an old typewriting for sale that had been used for data on a cruise ship. It had a carriage almost three foot across and I’d buy cheap “drawing paper” and with that device I could write an article of a few thousand words on a single page. The scan was at least three hundred words across. Amazing how it changed the flow. Might try that with a computer by using the smallest type font available and then only enlarging it upon completition. Wouldn’t really be the same as a type writer but….might be interesting.

Also remember reading about Hemingway writing only standing up. That might account for his short sentence structures. Ha.

That’s wild! I have never heard of a massive typewriter. It’s definitely unusual and sounds like a lot of fun!

Morgan Dragonwillow (@MDragonwillow)

Typically when I see so many comments I keep on going. I think to myself that this person has had plenty of comments they don’t need mine as well. Of course time is a factor. I visit so many blogs a day and leave so many comments that I just don’t have time for them all.

This morning is different. You showed up in my email with such a great title I had to open it. You tickled my curiosity and then I wasn’t disappointed by the content; I was happily intrigued.

Thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas! I will be passing it on.

Thanks, Morgan.

Marlon

As a kid I used to take stacks of blank paper, fold them, and staple them into an empty book like shape. Then with the space provided I would write a story and draw in illustrations here and there, all the while being conscious of where in the story I should be based on the pages left.

This article has just inspired me to go revisit my childhood in that sense and see if I can write something all in one day.

I used to try different hobbies and crafts — everything from scrapbooking to knitting. In the end, I decided to just focus on my writing with whatever spare time I have. However, one of my favorite crafts was making books and bookmarks.

Mandy

When I was in grade school, we learned that Leonardo DiVinci used to write everything in his notebooks backwards. He was left handed so it was easier for him. Being a young artist myself, I was fascinated by this and practically wrote everything backwards. (It came really easy to me.) It’s actually fairly easy to write backwards in cursive.. at least for me. The trouble came when I wrote all the answers on an entire history test backwards and my teacher gave me a 0% because she didn’t want to read it. (My first F… shocker!) My mother thought I should have gotten extra points.. Haha. I still love to write backwards. I send letters to friends to frustratingly decode in the mirror. Might be a fun one to add to this list.

Wow, I imagine it would be difficult to write a large block of text backward, but it certainly sounds interesting!

Seth

I’ve dictated a couple stories while going on long hikes. For some reason, hiking gets me in a story-telling mood. Like any first draft, the results are rough and rambling, and the transcription takes a significant amount of time. However, I’m pretty happy with the results, and it’s a great way to combine two of my favorite things.

I’ve been meaning to search for a speech-to-text transcription app because I’d like to try dictation. However, I don’t want to transcribe manually (so tedious). Siri certainly handles it well; maybe a new iPhone is what I need. You might look into some kind of technology that you can use to automate the transcription process too.

Yvonne Root

Melissa, You’ve done it again. This post is simply too much fun. Here is one other way that I’ve found to be creative about the process of writing. A number of years ago my daughter gave me a wonderful tin box which held magnetic words. Not letters, words.

They work on the refrigerator but mine are on a vertical surface above the desk. They are scattered about in a major disarray now. As a family we’ve used them to leave messages, write poetry and very short stories. Also, one of my favorite tricks is to glance over the board and look for a word that sets off a whole line of thought. I love my magnetic words.

My daughter purchased my words at a small book store in Durango, Colorado. I found this site which seems to have a similar set in a plastic box. http://www.mywordmagnets.com/

I love magnetic words. My family had them on the fridge back when I was in college. Good times!

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10 Great Creative Writing Activities To Try Today

What are the best creative writing activities worth your time? And how can these activities help you become a better writer? Good creative writing activities should help you write faster and enjoy the process more. It shouldn’t take too long to try or require any fancy tools or software.

For years, I struggled with writer’s block, until I began experimenting with various fun creative writing activities.

Now in this article, I offer several creative writing activities that will help solve a problem like writer’s block or write a better story for your readers.

1. Use Writing Prompts

2. keep a daily journal, 3. try free writing, 4. research your subject , 5. write without interruption, 6. collaborate with someone else, 7. let your writing sit, 8. get feedback on your writing, 9. change the point of view or tense, 10. read your writing aloud, bonus creative writing activities: reward yourself, how do you make creative writing activities fun, what are creative writing activities.

If you want to write, consider keeping a record of books you want to read or quotes that inspire you. I also recommend building a personal library of writing prompts.

A writing prompt is simply a question, statement or single sentence that serves as a springboard into your creative work. You can buy books of creative writing prompts or alternatively, you can record your own.

If you opt for the latter approach, I recommend using the first line from books you love. They’re kind of like templates upon which you can jump off into the unknown.

You may also want to try brainstorming a list of creative writing prompts to use for your short story, essay or book chapter.

Lots of writers also keep journals where they record daily observations about their lives or work. Essentially, these journals are where writers gather their ingredients for their next work.

You can’t cook a stew with just water, just like you can’t write without having something to say.

Many cooks keep clippings from their favourite chefs and recipe books. They use these as inspiration for meals to cook.

You can do so on your phone or in a paper notebook (I like the over-priced Moleskine notebooks ). A notepad and paper by your bedside is a good idea for when inspiration strikes at 4am. Alternatively, apps like Day One make it easier to journal on a mobile phone.

The habit of daily observations is a good practice for any writer . I recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their writing skills as it encourages you to sit down and write consistently.

Even if these observations sound silly in hindsight, you may be surprised by what turns up.

Free writing describes the act of writing about whatever is on your mind for a predetermined period. While free writing, your job is to get words down on the page without stopping to self-edit or censor yourself.

This type of exploratory creative writing is useful for solving problems like writer’s block. It can also help reluctant writers increase their daily word-count. Free writing makes for a great story starter too.

You can free write on your writing app of choice, on a piece of paper, in the notes app on your phone.

If you’d like to learn more about free writing, check out the excellent book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.

If you write nonfiction, start with a clear brief of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. 

For example:

Journalists receive a brief for a story from their editor (i.e. here’s today’s news agenda) or a source (i.e. “I have information for you about…”).

They also also spend time compiling lists of possible interviewees and deciding on questions to ask, just as a chef shops around for the finest ingredients.

Academics and educators decide for themselves what they want their work to taste like, albeit with the help of a tutor. They also spend time reading academic papers in their area of study and conducting qualitative and quantitative research.

Bloggers sign up to various blogs, using a feed reader to aggregate content and by keeping up to date on industry trends.

Having a clear brief for an article or book helps with critical thinking.

Lots of writers have various routines they follow before writing. Some people like to cook while enjoying a glass of wine. (I like to write and drink coffee).

Other writers describe how they disable their internet access when they want to get some serious work done.

If you are an academic , preparation may involve taking key findings from your research papers and applying it to your area of study.

This stage also usually involves completing a literature review prior to engaging in the act of essay writing.

If you are a journalist , this exercise involves interviews with sources and newsworthy figures. It also involves collating relevant news articles and findings.

And if you are a blogger , focus on one theme or topic and research what search volume around this topic using a keyword analysis tool.

Sure, having a quiet place to write is important, but sometimes it’s helpful to work with another writer or an editor on your piece. Alternatively, perhaps you can borrow ethically from work you admire.

A good sentence, like a stew, isn’t going to write itself. Some pieces of work are light and easy to prepare. Other meaty pieces of work take longer to cook.

An academic will write several drafts of their paper or chapter, all the while assessing how it compares with current literature and weighing it against their central thesis.

A journalist will type out transcripts of their interviews, and consult with their editor or colleagues. They will search for a newsworthy angle and may even draw conclusions, depending on the tone of their piece.

A blogger will look for relevant posts by other bloggers to link. They will also frame the topic in such a way that it appeals to what readers are searching for. She or he will also consider supporting multimedia content.

If you’ve finished writing a story, article or book chapter, let it sit on your computer or in your drawer for a while. Your subconscious will continue working on the idea while you do something else.

Cooks recommend leaving a stew simmering for several hours before serving. Similarly, a  piece of writing is best left to marinate in a drawer (be that physical or digital).

This way, when you look at your work after a break, the words won’t be as hot, and you’ll be able to see if you need to season the piece with more facts or spice it up with some colour (i.e. unusual adverbs, similes and metaphors).

For an academic , this could involve letting a chapter rest for a few days and then making some quick edits before submitting to tutor for feedback.

A journalist , may have less time for their stew to prepare and will normally consult with their editor or sub-editor to finalise their piece.

A blogger has more leeway here, as they are normally their own bosses. They can take this time to season posts with relevant links, pictures, meta descriptions, ALT tags and a call to action.

The act of writing is more about turning up than it is about divine moments of inspiration. A lot of the time writing feels like drudgery, but there’s a pleasure in watching your sentences slowly improve.

Writers learn faster if they get feedback from other writers, knowledgable readers or editors.

A good stew is best eaten in company. Lots of writers have this idea that they should write for themselves. Instead, it’s far better to share what you’ve created with friends, family and the wider public.

This essentially involves publishing your work. A blogger will upload their post onto their platform of choice and support it with social media comments. An academic will submit to an identified journal and a journalist will publish a story in a newspaper.

Writing in a public forum carries a degree of vulnerability, but it’s a great way develop a consistent, recognisable voice. It also opens the writer up to criticism.

An editor or tutor will provide this anyway (it’s their job), but if you are writing for yourself, consider asking a friend or subscribers to your blog for feedback.

Some criticism may be constructive and some of it won’t help at all. Your fiercest critics could become your biggest enablers for better writing.

And there’s always an argument for killing those sentences that give you the most pleasure.

In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ― William Faulkner

I learnt this exercise while enrolled in a creative writing workshop years ago in the Irish Writer’s Centre in Dublin.

If you have time to spare, consider rewriting a troublesome piece from the point of view of a different character. Alternatively, switch it from the past tense to the present tense. 

Like many reluctant writers, at first I was sceptical when I heard about this creative writing exercise.

But for some odd reason, I was surprised to discover it worked.

These days, I find it easier and faster to write in the present tense, and whenever I’m blocked on an article or story, I rewrite it in that tense. 

Perhaps the act of reviewing a piece of work and quickly editing it helps. The writing process is sometimes odd like that.

It’s sometimes fun and instructive to read an extract from your piece aloud for others to listen to and critique. This creative writing activity works well in classrooms and in small groups. 

The act of reading it aloud will help you listen for sentences to edit and rewrite.

The person facilitating the workshop or class should also offer the following writing instructions:

  • Everyone should say one thing they liked and disliked about the piece.
  • The writer can only comment at the end
  • Everyone must read a piece aloud

Why all the rules?

Well, you can’t control how readers react when they consume your published pieces in the privacy of their own homes. 

If everyone read a piece aloud, the process will feel fair.

Writing is hard work. If you’ve accomplished a writing goal, reward yourself. Journalists tend to get paid for this, but some academics and most bloggers don’t.

A reward could be a short break to watch a favourite TV programme or a walk in the park.

You could eat out after trying a creative writing activity successfully.

Just like dining in a fancy restaurant can give you ideas about what you’d like to cook next, reading other peoples’ works (especially outside your preferred genre) is food for inspiration.

If the work is more involved, it could be a guilt-free purchase or even a holiday. These writing breaks are important because they refresh the writer’s appetite.

Creative Writing Activities: FAQ

An enjoyable creative writing activity is usually easily to apply and doesn’t require a lot of time or fancy tools. It’s fun if the writer in question can approach the activity without fear of failure or judgment.

There are many to choose from but popular examples include journaling, free writing, using writing prompts, exploratory writing and writing to a tight deadline or low word-count.

creative writing ideas and activities

Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

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Lower the stakes and help them get started.

Share your story message written on three post it notes

“I don’t have a story. There’s nothing interesting about my life!” Sound familiar? I don’t know a teacher who hasn’t heard students say this. When we ask our students to write about themselves, they get stuck. We know how important it is for them to tell their own stories. It’s how we explore our identities and keep our histories and cultures alive. It can even be dangerous when we don’t tell our stories (check out this Ted Talk given by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and share it with your students for more on that). Storytelling is essential for every subject, not just English Language Arts; students dive deeper and engage when they practice thinking about how their own stories intersect with historical events, civic engagement, and the real-world implications of STEM. These 10 creative writing activities can work in every subject you teach:

Here are 10 of our favorite story telling activities that inspire students:

1. write an “i am from” poem.

A students I Am From creative writing activities

Students read the poem “I am From” by George Ella Lyon. Then, they draft a poem about their own identity in the same format Lyon used. Finally, students create a video to publish their poems. We love this one because the mentor text gives a clear structure and example that students can follow. But the end result is truly unique, just like their story.

2. Design a social media post to share an important memory

collage of historical images creative writing activities

How can you use your unique perspective to tell a story? We want our students to learn that they are truly unique and have stories that only they can tell that other people want to hear or could relate to or learn from. In this activity, students watch two Pixar-in-a-Box videos on Khan Academy to learn about storytelling and perspective. Then, they identify an interesting or poignant memory and design a social media post.

3. Create an image using a line to chart an emotional journey

creative writing ideas and activities

How do you show emotion using a single line? In this activity, students watch a Pixar in a Box video on Khan Academy to learn about how lines communicate character, emotion, and tension. Then they experiment with these aspects as they write their story. We love using this for pre-writing and to help students explore their story arc. Also, for students who love to draw or learn visually, this can help them get started telling their story and show them that there are many different ways to tell a story.

4. Tell the story behind your name

creative writing ideas and activities

Sharing the story behind our name is a way to tell a story about ourselves, our culture, and our family history. And if there isn’t a story behind it, we can talk about how we feel about it and describe what it sounds like. In this activity, students use video to introduce themselves to their classmates by discussing the origin of their name. This project asks students to connect their names (and identities) to their personal and familial histories and to larger historical forces. If you’re looking for a mentor text that pairs well with this one, try “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros .

5. Develop a visual character sketch

Give students the time to create a character sketch of themselves. This will help them see how they fit into their story. In this lesson, students create a visual character sketch. They’ll treat themselves like a character and learn to see themselves objectively.

6. Create a webpage to outline the story of your movie

creative writing ideas and activities

Building a story spine is a great way to show students how to put the parts of their story in an order that makes sense. It’s an exercise in making choices about structure. We like this activity because it gives students a chance to see different examples of structure in storytelling. Then, they consider the question: how can you use structure to set your story up for success? Finally, they design and illustrate an outline for their story.

7. Respond to a variety of writing prompts

Sometimes our students get stuck because they aren’t inspired or need a different entry point into telling their story. Give them a lot of writing prompts that they can choose from. Pass out paper and pencils. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Then, write 3-4 writing prompts on the board. Encourage students to free-write and not worry about whether their ideas are good or right. Some of our favorite prompts to encourage students to tell their story are:

  • I don’t know why I remember…
  • What’s your favorite place and why?
  • What objects tell the story of your life?
  • What might surprise someone to learn about you?

8. Create a self-portrait exploring identity and self-expression

creative writing ideas and activities

Part of what makes writing your own story so difficult for students is that they are just building their identity. In this activity, students explore how they and others define their identity. What role does identity play in determining how they are perceived and treated by others? What remains hidden and what is shown publicly?

9. Film a video to share an important story from your life

creative writing ideas and activities

Encourage students to think about how to tell the story of a day they faced their fears. Students consider the question: How can you use different shot types to tell your story? They watch a video from Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy to learn about different camera shots and their use in storytelling. Then, they use Adobe Spark Post or Photoshop and choose three moments from their story to make into shots. We love using this to help students think about pace and perspective. Sometimes what we leave out of our story is just as important as what we include.

10. Try wild writing

Laurie Powers created a process where you read a poem and then select two lines from it. Students start their own writing with one of those lines. Anytime that they get stuck, they repeat their jump-off line again. This is a standalone activity or a daily writing warm-up, and it works with any poem. We love how it lowers the stakes. Can’t think of anything to write? Repeat the jump-off line and start again. Here are some of our favorite jump-off lines:

  • The truth is…
  • Some people say…
  • Here’s what I forgot to tell you…
  • Some questions have no answers…
  • Here’s what I’m afraid to write about…

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Literacy Ideas

10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer

creative writing ideas and activities

  10 FUN WRITING ACTIVITIES FOR THE RELUCTANT WRITER

No doubt about it – writing isn’t easy. It is no wonder that many of our students could be described as ‘reluctant writers’ at best. It has been estimated by the National Association of Educational Progress that only about 27% of 8th and 12th Grade students can write proficiently.

As educators, we know that regular practice would go a long way to helping our students correct this underachievement, and sometimes, writing prompts just aren’t enough to light the fire.

But how do we get students, who have long since been turned off writing, to put pen to paper and log in the requisite time to develop their writing chops?

The answer is to make writing fun! In this article, we will look at some creative writing activities where we can inject a little enjoyment into the writing game.

Visual Writing Prompts

COMPLETE DIGITAL AND PRINT FUN WRITING UNIT

Fun Writing Tasks

25 FUN and ENGAGING writing tasks your students can complete INDEPENDENTLY with NO PREP REQUIRED that they will absolutely love.

Fully EDITABLE and works as with all DIGITAL PLATFORMS such as Google Classroom, or you can PRINT them for traditional writing tasks.

1. Poetry Scavenger Hunt

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The Purpose: This activity encourages students to see the poetry in the everyday language around them while helpfully reinforcing their understanding of some of the conventions of the genre.

The Process: Encourage students to ‘scavenge’ their school, home, and outside the community for snippets of language they can compile into a piece of poetry or a poetic collage. They may copy down or photograph words, phrases, and sentences from signs, magazines, leaflets or even snippets of conversations they overhear while out and about.

Examples of language they collect may range from the Keep Out sign on private property to the destination on the front of a local bus.

Once students have gathered their language together, they can work to build a poem out of the scraps, usually choosing a central theme to give the piece cohesion. They can even include corresponding artwork to enhance the visual appeal of their work, too, if they wish.

The Prize: If poetry serves one purpose, it is to encourage us to look at the world anew with the fresh eyes of a young child. This activity challenges our students to read new meanings into familiar things and put their own spin on the language they encounter in the world around them, reinforcing the student’s grasp on poetic conventions.

2. Story Chains  

The Purpose: Writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit. For this reason alone, it can be seen as a particularly unattractive activity by many of our more gregarious students. This fun activity exercises students’ understanding of writing structures and engages them in fun, creative collaboration.

The Process: Each student starts with a blank paper and pen. The teacher writes a story prompt on the whiteboard. You’ll find some excellent narrative writing prompts here . For example, each student spends two minutes using the writing prompt to kick-start their writing.  

When they have completed this part of the task, they will then pass their piece of paper to the student next to them. Students then continue the story from where the previous student left off for a given number of words, paragraphs, or length of time.

If organized correctly, you can ensure students receive their own initial story back at the end for the writing of the story’s conclusion .

The Prize: This fun writing activity can be used effectively to reinforce student understanding of narrative writing structures, but it can also be fun to try with other writing genres.

Working collaboratively motivates students to engage with the task, as no one wants to be the ‘weak link’ in the finished piece. But, more than that, this activity encourages students to see writing as a communicative and creative task where there needn’t be a ‘right’ answer. This encourages students to be more willing to take creative risks in their work.

3. Acrostic Associations

Writing Activities,fun writing | acrostic poems for teachers and students | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: This is another great way to get students to try writing poetry – a genre that many students find the most daunting.

The Process: Acrostics are simple poems whereby each letter of a word or phrase begins a new line in the poem. Younger students can start off with something very simple, like their own name or their favorite pet and write this vertically down the page.

Older students can take a word or phrase related to a topic they have been working on or have a particular interest in and write it down on the page before beginning to write.

The Prize: This activity has much in common with the old psychiatrist’s word association technique. Students should be encouraged to riff on ideas and themes generated by the focus word or phrase. They needn’t worry about rhyme and meter and such here, but the preset letter for each line will give them some structure to their meanderings and require them to impose some discipline on their wordsmithery, albeit in a fun and loose manner.

4. The What If Challenge

Writing Activities,fun writing | fun writing tasks 1 | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: This challenge helps encourage students to see the link between posing interesting hypothetical questions and creating an entertaining piece of writing.

The Process: To begin this exercise, have the students come up with a single What If question, which they can then write down on a piece of paper. The more off-the-wall, the better!

For example, ‘What if everyone in the world knew what you were thinking?’ or ‘What if your pet dog could talk?’ Students fold up their questions and drop them into a hat. Each student picks one out of the hat before writing on that question for a suitable set amount of time.

Example What If Questions

  • “What if you woke up one day and found out that you had the power to time travel?”
  • “What if you were the last person on Earth? How would you spend your time?”
  • “What if you were granted three wishes, but each one came with a terrible consequence?”
  • “What if you discovered a secret portal to another world? Where would you go, and what would you do?”
  • “What if you woke up one day with the ability to communicate with animals? How would your life change?”

The Prize: Students are most likely to face the terror of the dreaded Writer’s Block when they are faced with open-ended creative writing tasks.

This activity encourages the students to see the usefulness of posing hypothetical What If questions, even random off-the-wall ones, for kick-starting their writing motors.

Though students begin by answering the questions set for them by others, please encourage them to see how they can set these questions for themselves the next time they suffer from a stalled writing engine.

5. The Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World

Writing Activities,fun writing | disgusting sandwich writing task | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: Up until now, we have looked at activities encouraging our students to have fun with genres such as fiction and poetry. These genres being imaginative in nature, more easily lend themselves to being enjoyable than some of the nonfiction genres.

But what about descriptive writing activities? In this activity, we endeavor to bring that same level of enjoyment to instruction writing while also cleverly reinforcing the criteria of this genre.

The Process: Undoubtedly, when teaching instruction writing, you will at some point cover the specific criteria of the genre with your students.

These will include things like the use of a title, numbered or bulleted points, time connectives, imperatives, diagrams with captions etc. You will then want the students to produce their own piece of instruction writing or procedural text to display their understanding of how the genre works.

 But, why not try a fun topic such as How to Make the Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World rather than more obvious (and drier!) topics such as How to Tie Your Shoelaces or How to Make a Paper Airplane when choosing a topic for your students to practice their instruction writing chops?

Example of a Most disgusting Sandwich Text

The Prize: As mentioned, with nonfiction genres, in particular, we tend to suggest more banal topics for our students to work on while internalizing the genre’s criteria. Enjoyment and acquiring practical writing skills need not be mutually exclusive.

Our students can just as quickly, if not more easily, absorb and internalize the necessary writing conventions while engaged in writing about whimsical and even nonsensical topics.

if your sandwich is entering the realm of horror, be sure to check our complete guide to writing a scary story here as well.

DAILY WRITING JOURNAL UNIT FOR ALL TEXT TYPES

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Our FUN DAILY QUICK WRITE TASKS will teach your students the fundamentals of CREATIVE WRITING across all text types. Packed with 52 ENGAGING ACTIVITIES

6. Diary Entry of a Future Self

Writing Activities,fun writing | future self writing task | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: This activity allows students to practice personal writing within the conventions of diary/journal writing. It also challenges them to consider what their world will be like in the future, perhaps stepping a foot into the realm of science fiction.

The Process: Straightforwardly, after working through some examples of diary or journal writing, and reviewing the various criteria of the genre, challenge the students to write an entry at a given milestone in the future.

This may be when they leave school, begin work, go to university, get married, have kids, retire etc. You may even wish to get the students to write an entry for a series of future milestones as part of a more extended project.

Example of Message to Future Me Text

The Prize: Students will get a chance here to exercise their understanding of this type of writing , but more than that, they will also get an opportunity to exercise their imaginative muscles too. They will get to consider what shape their future world will take in this engaging thought experiment that will allow them to improve their writing too.

7. Comic Strip Script

comic_strip_writing_task.jpg

The Purpose: Give your students the chance to improve their dialogue writing skills and to work on their understanding of character development in this fun activity which combines writing with the use of a series of visual elements.

The Process: There are two ways to do this activity. The first requires you to source, or create, a comic strip minus the dialogue the characters are speaking. This may be as straightforward as using whiteout to erase the words in speech bubbles and making copies for your students to complete.

Alternatively, provide the students with photographs/pictures and strips of cards for them to form their own action sequences . When students have their ‘mute’ strips, they can begin to write the dialogue/script to link the panels together.

The Prize: When it comes to writing, comic strips are probably one of the easier sells to reluctant students! This activity also allows students to write for speech. This will stand to them later when they come to produce sections of dialogue in their narrative writing or when producing play or film scripts.

They will also develop their visual literacy skills as they scan the pictures for clues of tone and context before they begin their writing.

Keep It Fun

Just as we should encourage our students to read for fun and wider educational benefits, we should also work to instil similar attitudes towards writing. To do this means we must work to avoid always framing writing in the context of a chore, that bitter pill that must be swallowed for the good of our health.

There is no getting away from the fact that writing can, at times, be laborious. It is time-consuming and, for most of us, difficult at the best of times. There is a certain, inescapable amount of work involved in becoming a competent writer.

That said, as we have seen in the activities above, with a bit of creative thought, we can inject fun into even the most practical of writing activities . All that is required is a dash of imagination and a sprinkling of effort.

8. Character Interviews

Writing Activities,fun writing | 610f9b34b762f2001e00b814 | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: Character interviews as writing activities are excellent for students because they encourage creative thinking, character development, and empathy. The purpose of this activity is to help students delve deeper into the minds of the characters they are creating in their stories or reading about in literature. By conducting interviews with these characters, students gain a better understanding of their personalities, motivations, and perspectives.

The Process of character interviews involves students imagining themselves as interviewers and their characters as interviewees. They can either write out the questions and answers in a script-like format or write a narrative where the character responds to the questions in their own voice.

The Prize: Through character interviews, students learn several valuable skills:

  • Character Development: By exploring various aspects of their characters’ lives, backgrounds, and experiences, students can develop more well-rounded and authentic characters in their stories. This helps make their fictional creations more relatable and engaging to readers.
  • Empathy and Perspective: Conducting interviews requires students to put themselves in their characters’ shoes, considering their thoughts, emotions, and struggles. This cultivates empathy and a deeper understanding of human behavior, which can be applied to real-life situations as well.
  • Voice and Dialogue: In crafting the character’s responses, students practice writing authentic dialogue and giving their characters unique voices. This skill is valuable for creating dynamic and believable interactions between characters in their stories.
  • Creative Expression: Character interviews provide a creative outlet for students to let their imaginations run wild. They can explore scenarios that may not appear in the main story and discover new aspects of their characters they might not have considered before.
  • Critical Thinking: Formulating questions for the interview requires students to think critically about their characters’ personalities and backgrounds. This exercise enhances their analytical skills and storytelling abilities.

Overall, character interviews are a dynamic and enjoyable way for students to delve deeper into the worlds they create or the literature they read. It nurtures creativity, empathy, and writing skills, empowering students to become more proficient and imaginative writers.

9. The Travel Journal

Writing Activities,fun writing | fun writing activities | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: Travel journal writing tasks are excellent for students as they offer a unique and immersive way to foster creativity, cultural awareness, and descriptive writing skills. The purpose of this activity is to allow students to embark on a fictional or real travel adventure, exploring new places, cultures, and experiences through the eyes of a traveller.

The process of a travel journal writing task involves students assuming the role of a traveler and writing about their journey in a journal format. They can describe the sights, sounds, tastes, and emotions they encounter during their travels. This activity encourages students to use vivid language, sensory details, and expressive writing to bring their travel experiences to life.

The Prize: Through travel journal writing tasks, students will learn several valuable skills:

  • Descriptive Writing: By describing their surroundings and experiences in detail, students enhance their descriptive writing skills, creating engaging and vivid narratives.
  • Cultural Awareness: Travel journals encourage students to explore different cultures, customs, and traditions. This helps broaden their understanding and appreciation of diversity.
  • Empathy and Perspective: Through writing from the perspective of a traveler, students develop empathy and gain insight into the lives of people from different backgrounds.
  • Research Skills: For fictional travel journals, students might research specific locations or historical periods to make their narratives more authentic and accurate.
  • Reflection and Self-Expression: Travel journals offer a space for students to reflect on their own emotions, thoughts, and personal growth as they encounter new experiences.
  • Creativity and Imagination: For fictional travel adventures, students get to unleash their creativity and imagination, envisioning fantastical places and scenarios.
  • Language and Vocabulary: Travel journal writing tasks provide opportunities for students to expand their vocabulary and experiment with expressive language.

Overall, travel journal writing tasks inspire students to become more observant, empathetic, and skilled writers. They transport them to new worlds and foster a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. Whether writing about real or imaginary journeys, students develop a deeper connection to the places they encounter, making this activity both educational and enjoyable.

10. The Fairy Tale Remix

Writing Activities,fun writing | Glass Slipper | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer | literacyideas.com

The Purpose: A fairy tale remix writing activity is a fantastic creative exercise for students as it allows them to put a unique spin on classic fairy tales, fostering imagination, critical thinking, and storytelling skills. This activity encourages students to think outside the box, reinterpret well-known tales, and explore their creative potential by transforming traditional narratives into something entirely new and exciting.

The process of a fairy tale remix writing activity involves students selecting a familiar fairy tale and altering key elements such as characters, settings, plot twists, or outcomes. They can modernize the story, change the genre, or even mix different fairy tales together to create a wholly original piece.

The Prize: Through this activity, students will learn several valuable skills:

  • Creative Thinking: Students exercise their creativity by brainstorming unique concepts and ideas to remix the fairy tales, encouraging them to think imaginatively.
  • Critical Analysis: Analyzing the original fairy tale to identify essential elements to keep and areas to remix helps students develop critical thinking skills and understand storytelling structures.
  • Writing Techniques: Crafting a remix requires students to use descriptive language, engaging dialogue, and well-developed characters, helping them hone their writing techniques.
  • Perspective and Empathy: Remixing fairy tales allows students to explore different character perspectives, promoting empathy and understanding of diverse points of view.
  • Genre Exploration: Remixing fairy tales can introduce students to various genres like science fiction, fantasy, or mystery, expanding their literary horizons.
  • Originality: Creating their own narrative twists and unexpected plots encourages students to take ownership of their writing and develop a unique voice.
  • Storytelling: Students learn the art of compelling storytelling as they weave together familiar elements with innovative ideas, captivating their readers.

By remixing fairy tales, students embark on a creative journey that empowers them to reimagine well-loved stories while honing their writing skills and imaginative prowess. It’s an engaging and enjoyable way for students to connect with literature, explore new possibilities, and showcase their storytelling talents.

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7 Creative Writing Exercises For Writers

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Need a creative lift as a writer? Try these 7 creative writing exercises for writers to boost your writing skills.

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Has your creative well run dry? Are you struggling to find inspiration for your next written work? Creative writing exercises could be the answer.

creative writing ideas and activities

Just like any other skill, the art and craft of writing will benefit from the frequent working and reworking of your practices and habits. Creativity exercises for writers could unlock that writer’s block that you have been struggling to overcome and spur you on to new and exciting creative directions. 

What are Creative Writing Exercises?

Creative writing exercises can take on many forms and can mean different things to different people. However, certain elements are common to most examples of creative writing exercises.

They are often produced in short, intense bursts, for one thing, and they are often entirely improvised. Improvisation is one of the earmarks of the creative writing exercises employed by many writers.

One other factor that most creative writing exercises have in common is that they often encourage the exploration and expounding of familiar subject matters in novel ways.

Many classes and guides that focus solely on developing creative writing techniques involve adopting short and spontaneous approaches. 

How often should writers practice creative writing exercises?

creative writing ideas and activities

Regardless of what form a creative writing exercise takes, it is smart for writers to adopt these practices and incorporate them into their daily routines. The goal is to expand their writing skills and develop the ability to tell the same story in as many different ways as possible. 

Start by writing a few lines once or twice a week, spending only a few minutes each session. Gradually increase the length of each session and how many times you sit down to write per week.

Eventually, you could work up to about ten minutes per session, performing these exercises several times throughout the week. 

Here are 7 Creative Writing Exercises for Writers

creative writing ideas and activities

If you feel like taking a break from a writing assignment or are between projects, you can try your hand at these creative writing exercises. They can also serve as inspiration for your next opus or strengthen your creative muscles. 

1. Follow your stream of consciousness.

creative writing ideas and activities

Many writers have become conditioned to feel a great deal of stress or worry about being confronted by a blank page. This exercise will help you address this fear head-on. 

Get a piece of paper and start writing the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t even think about what you are writing or edit your thoughts. This type of writing is known as “free writing”. Author Julia Cameron referred to this as the “morning pages” in her award-winning book, The Artist’s Way . 

2. Work with different points of view.

creative writing ideas and activities

If you find yourself struggling with expressing yourself, try switching up your point of view. Take a chapter from your favorite book, or even just a scene if you want to start slow. Write everything that takes place from the point of view of another character. The goal here is to communicate the story in another way. 

You could also vary this exercise by writing as if you are the main character by changing their point of view. If the story is written in the first person, try writing it from the third person. Be aware of the details that are omitted when you switch viewpoints. This frequently leads to an interesting new twist to the story. 

3. Take advantage of writing prompts.

Writing prompts or story starters can be invaluable writing tools that could encourage you to explore unfamiliar but interesting creative directions. These are sentences or short passages that could serve as springboards for writing spontaneous stories. 

We have many writing prompts lists here at ThinkWritten you can use for inspiration, including 365 Creative Writing Prompts , 42 Fantasy Prompts , and 101 Poetry Prompts .

4. Have a Conversation With Yourself

creative writing ideas and activities

See what it’s like to write a letter or converse with yourself. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with your younger self, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

You can choose any subject you want, from a significant social or political event or some words of wisdom to your younger version. Try to be as honest and as forthcoming as possible. The results might surprise you.

5. Try Writing Flash Fiction

creative writing ideas and activities

Try to crank out a piece of flash fiction. As with other creative writing exercises, don’t spend too much time at it. Simply sit down in front of the computer or a piece of paper, and begin writing. Flash fiction doesn’t usually go beyond 500 words, so try to keep it short.

Note: It might be helpful to differentiate flash fiction from the freewriting exercise discussed earlier. While freewriting involves generating words and ideas in an unbridled stream of consciousness, flash fiction is more about writing within a set of guidelines. In this particular exercise, try incorporating structural elements such as plots, conflicts, and character development, all in the goal of developing a logical story arc. 

6. Practice writing fake ads

creative writing ideas and activities

Writing fake advertisements is another potentially useful exercise. Few tasks can flex your creative muscles than trying to sell a product, person, company, or idea. You don’t need a lot to get started either. All you have to do is to select a word at random from a magazine or newspaper and get started writing an ad for it. 

It might help to write one ad in a more formal tone, similar to the classified ads published in newspapers. This exercise will train you in using a few words effectively to sell your subject. You can then write another ad in a style similar to that published in online marketplaces, which allow for longer text. In both exercises, try to convince your readers to purchase the product in as definitive terms as possible. 

7. Rewrite someone else’s story

creative writing ideas and activities

Consider adopting a story from someone else and making it your own. Unlike the exercise that involves writing a story from another point of view, this one involves telling the same story from the same viewpoint but using your own words.

It could be any story you want to write about, from something a family member told you about or an urban legend that has long made the rounds of your town.

Whichever story you choose, try to write it as if it happened to you. If certain details are missing–which is often the case with old stories–don’t hold back from adding your own touches. You could even take a well-known story and write it as if you were there when the events took place. 

There are only a few of the creativity exercises for writers you can try. There are many more variations that you could use to help you get back into the pattern of writing creatively.

If you ever find yourself stuck and unsure of what your next step should be, consider taking some time off and working on some creative writing exercises instead. After some time, you might find yourself becoming more eager to get back into it and more inspired than ever. 

Tell us what you think! Do you enjoy creative writing exercises? Do you have any additional ideas for ways writers can continue to build and work on their writing skills? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Eric Pangburn is a freelance writer who shares his best tips with other writers here at ThinkWritten. When not writing, he enjoys coaching basketball and spending time with his family.

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The article was inspirational but I wish that there was a place to show case our writing. I have written a novel and will love to have someone read and edit it.

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The Write Practice

Top 100 Short Story Ideas

by Joe Bunting | 128 comments

Do you want to write but just need a great story idea? Or perhaps you have too many ideas and can’t choose the best one? Well, good news. We’ve got you covered.

Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests , for stories to publish in literary magazines , or just for fun!

Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring guide, regularly updated with ideas and information.

100 Top Short Story Ideas

If you're in a hurry, here's my 10 best story ideas in brief, or scroll down for the full version.

Top 10 Story Ideas

  • Tell the story of a scar.
  • A group of children discover a dead body.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her.
  • A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back. 
  • A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune.
  • A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate.
  • A long journey is interrupted by a disaster.
  • A young couple run into the path of a psychopath.

The Write Structure

Why Creative Writing Prompts Are Helpful

Below, you'll find our best creative writing prompts and plot ideas for every genre, but first, why do we use prompts? Is it just a waste of time, or can they actually help you? Here are three reasons we  love writing prompts at The Write Practice:

1. Practice the Language!

Even for those of us who are native English speakers, we're all on a language journey to go from beginners to skilled writers. To make progress on this language journey, you have to practice, and at The Write Practice, believe it or not, we're really into practice! Creative writing prompts are easy, fun ways to practice.

Use the prompts below to practice your storytelling and use of language. The more you practice, the better of a writer you'll become.

2. When you have no ideas and are stuck.

Sometimes, you want to write, but you can't think up any ideas. You could either just sit there, staring at a blank page, or you could find a few ideas to help you get started. Even better if the list of ideas is curated from our best plot ideas over the last decade that we've been publishing lessons, writing exercises, and prompts.

Use the story ideas below to get your writing started. Then when your creativity is warmed up, you'll start to come up with your own ideas!

3. To develop your own ideas.

Maybe you do have an idea already, but you're not sure it's good. Or maybe you feel like it's just missing some small piece to make it better. By reading other ideas, and incorporating your favorites into your   story, you can fill your plot holes and generate creative ideas of your own.

Use the story ideas below to develop your own ideas.

4. They're fun!

Thousands of writers use the prompts below every month, some at home, some in classrooms, and even a few pros at their writing “office.” Why? Because writing prompts can be fun. They get your creativity started, help you come up with new ideas of your own, and often take your writing in new, unexpected directions.

Use the plot ideas to have more fun with writing!

How to Write a Story

One last thing before we get to the 100 story ideas, let’s talk about how to write a great short story . (Already know how to write a great story? No problem. Just skip down to the ideas below.)

  • First, read stories. If you’ve never read a story, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. Where do you find great stories? There are a lot of places, but check out our list of  46 Literary Magazines  we’ve curated over here .
  • Write your story in a single sitting. Write the first draft of your story in as short a time as possible, and if you’re writing a short story , try to write it in one sitting. Trust me, this works. Everyone hates being interrupted when they’re telling compelling stories. Use that to your advantage and don’t stop writing until you’ve finished telling yours.
  • Read your draft. Read your story through once, without changing anything. This will give you a sense of what work it needs going forward.
  • Write a premise. After reading your first draft, get your head around the main idea behind your story by summarizing your story in a one sentence premise. Your premise should contain four things: a character, a goal, a situation, and a special sauce. Not sure what that means or how to actually do that? Here’s a full premise writing guide .
  • Write, edit, write, and edit. Good writing is rewriting. Use your second draft to fill in the plot holes and cut out the extraneous scenes and characters you discovered when you read the first draft in step #2. Then, polish up your final draft on the next round of edits.
  • Submit! Real writers don’t keep their writing all to themselves. They share it. Submit your story to a literary magazine , an anthology series , enter it into a writing contest , or even share it with a small group of friends. And if it gets rejected, don’t feel bad. You’ll be in good company.

Want to know more? Learn more about how to write a great short story here .

Our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts

Ready to get writing? Here are our 100 best short story ideas to kickstart your writing. Enjoy!

10 Best General Short Story Ideas

Our first batch of plot ideas are for any kind of story, whether a spy thriller or a memoir of your personal life story. Here are the best story ideas:

  • Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one. To be a writer, said Stephen King, “The only requirement is the ability to  remember every scar .”
  • A group of children discover a dead body. Good writers don’t turn away from death, which is, after all, the  universal human experience. Instead, they look it directly into its dark face and describe what they see on the page.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned. Orphans are uniquely vulnerable, and as such, they have the most potential for growth.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. What do Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Weasley, King Saul from the Bible, Odysseus, and Ebenezer Scrooge have in common? They all encountered ghosts!
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. “In life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.
  • A talented young man’s deepest fear is holding his life back. Your character’s biggest fear is your story’s secret weapon. Don’t run from it, write about it.
  • A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune. Not all fortunes are good. Sometimes discovering a fortune will destroy your life.
  • A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate (literally bumps into him). In film, this is called the “meet cute,” when the hero bumps into the heroine in the coffee shop or the department store or the hallway, knocking her books to the floor, and forcing them into conversation.
  • A long journey is interrupted by a disaster. Who hasn’t been longing to get to a destination only to be delayed by something unexpected? This is the plot of  Gravity ,  The Odyssey , and even  Lord of the Rings .
  • A young couple run into the path of a psychopath. Monsters, whether people who do monstrous things or scaly beasts or a monster of a natural disaster, reveal what’s really inside a person. Let your character fall into the path of a monster and see how they handle themselves.

Now that you have an idea, learn exactly what to do with it.  Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers take their ideas and write books readers love. Click to check out  The Write Structure  here.

More Short Story Ideas Based on Genre

Need more ideas? Here are ideas based on whichever literary genre you write. Use them as character inspiration, to start your own story, or borrow pieces to generate your own ideas. The only rule is, have fun writing!

By the way,  for more story writing tips for each these plot types, check out our full guide to the 10 types of stories here .

10 Thriller Story Ideas

A thriller is any story that “thrills” the reader—i.e., gets adrenaline pumping, the heart racing, and the emotions piqued.

Thrillers come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected!

Here are a few of my favorite thriller story ideas :

Rosa Rivera-Ortiz is an up-and-coming lawyer in a San Diego firm. Held back by her ethnicity and her gender, she works twice as hard as her colleagues, and she’s as surprised as anyone when she’s requested specifically for a high-profile case. Bron Welty, an A-list actor and action star, has been arrested for the murder of his live-in housekeeper. The cop heading the case is older, ex-military, a veteran of more than one war, and an occasional sufferer of PTSD. Rosa’s hired to defend the movie star; and it seems like an easy win until she uncovers some secrets that not only make her believe her client is guilty, but may be one of the worst serial killers in the past two decades… and he knows she found out .

It’s the Cold War. Sergei, a double-agent for the CIA working in Berlin, is about to retire when he’s given one final mission: he’s been asked to “defect” to the USSR to help find and assassinate a suspected double-agent for the Kremlin. Sergei is highly trusted, and he’s given to understand that this mission is need-to-know only between him and very few superior officers. But as he falls deeper into the folds of the Iron Curtain, he begins to suspect that his superior officer might just be the mole, and the mark Sergei’s been sent to kill is on the cusp of exposing the leak.

It is 1800. A lighthouse on a barren cliff in Canada. Two lighthouse keepers, German immigrants, are alone for the winter and effectively cut off from the rest of the world until the ice thaws. Both Wilhelm and Matthias are settled in for the long haul with warm clothes, canned goods, and matches a-plenty. Then Wilhelm starts hearing voices. His personal belongings disappear from where he’d placed them, only to reappear in strange spots—like the catwalk, or dangling beneath the spiral stair knotted in brown twine. Matthias begs innocence. Little by little, Wilhelm grows convinced that Matthias is trying to convince him (Wilhelm) to kill himself. Is the insanity real, or is this really Matthias’ doing? And if it is real, what will he do to defend himself? There are so many months until the thaw. 

thriller story ideas

20 Mystery Story Ideas

Enjoy a good whodunit? Then you’ll love these mystery story ideas .

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ever hear the phrase, “It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet?” This is a philosophy Tomoe Gozen lives by. Brave and clever, Tomoe follows clues until she learns who ordered the murder: Emperor Antoku himself. But why would the emperor of Japan want to kill a lowly soldier?

Mystery writer Dan Rodriguez takes the subway every day. Every day, nothing happens. He wears earbuds and a hoodie; he’s ignored, and he ignores. Then one evening, on his way home from a stressful meeting with his publisher, Dan is startled out of his funk when a frantic Middle-Eastern man knocks him over at a dead run, then races up the stairs—pursued by several other thugs. The Middle-Eastern man is shot; and Dan discovers a mysterious package in the front pocket of his hoodie. What’s inside, and what does he need to do to survive the answer?

A headless corpse is found in a freshly-dug grave in Arkansas. The local police chief, Arley Socket, has never had to deal with more than missing gas cans and treed cats. His exploration of this weird murder digs up a mystery older than the 100-year-old town of Jericho that harkens all the way back to a European blood-feud.

story ideas

20 Romance Story Ideas

Ready to write a love story? Or perhaps you want to create a subplot with a secondary character? We've got ideas for you!

Hint: When it comes to romance, a sense of humor is always a good idea. Have fun! Here are a few of my favorite love story ideas :

She’s a cop. He’s the owner of a jewelry store. A sudden rash of break-ins brings her to his store over and over and over again, until it becomes obvious that he might be tripping the alarm on purpose—just to see her. That’s illegal—but she’s kind of falling for him, too. Write the moment she realizes she has to do something about this crazy illicit courtship.

Colorado Animal Rescue has never been more challenging than after that zoo caught on fire. Sally Cougar (no jokes on the name, or she’ll kill you) tracks down three missing tiger cubs, only to find they’ve been adopted by millionaire Bryce Champion. Thanks to an antiquated law on the books, he legally has the right to keep them. It’s going to take everything Sally has to get those tiger cubs back.

He’s a museum curator with a fetish for perfection. No one’s ever gotten close to him; how could they? They’re never as perfect as the portraits, the sculptures, the art that never changes. Then one day, an intern is hired on—a young, messy, disorganized intern, whose hair and desk are in a constant state of disarray. The curator is going half-mad with this walking embodiment of chaos; so why can’t the he stand the thought of the intern leaving at the end of their assistantship?

20 romance story ideas

20 Sci-Fi Story Ideas

From the minimum-wage-earning, ancient-artifact-hunting time traveller to the space-exploring, sentient dinosaurs, these sci-fi writing prompts will get you set loose your inner nerd.

Here are a few of my favorite sci-fi ideas :

In a future society, neural implants translate music into physical pleasure, and earphones (“jacking in”) are now the drug of choice. Write either from the perspective of a music addict, OR the Sonforce agent (sonance + enforcer) who has the job of cracking down.

It’s the year 5000. Our planet was wrecked in the great Crisis of 3500, and remaining human civilization survives only in a half dozen giant domed cities. There are two unbreakable rules: strict adherence to Life Quality (recycling doesn’t even begin to cover these laws), and a complete ban on reproduction (only the “worthy” are permitted to create new humans). Write from the perspective of a young woman who just discovered she’s been chosen to reproduce—but she has no interest in being a mother.

So yeah, ancient Egypt really was “all that” after all, and the pyramids turn out to be fully functional spaceships (the limestone was to preserve the electronics hidden inside). Write from the perspective of the tourist exploring the ancient society who accidentally turns one on.

sci-fi story ideas

20 Fantasy Story Ideas

Need a dose of sword-in-the-stone, hero and/or heroine packed coming-of-age glory?  We love fantasy stories!

Here are a few of my favorite fantasy story ideas:

Bored teenaged wizards throwing a graduation celebration.

Uncomfortable wedding preparation between a magic wielding family tree and those more on the Muggle side of things.

A fairy prince who decides to abandon his responsibilities to become a street musician.

Just try to not have fun writing (or even just reading!) these fantasy writing prompts.

fantasy story ideas

The Secret to Choosing the Best Story Idea

Stories, more than any other artistic expression, have the power to make people care. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives.

But to write a great story, a life-changing story, don’t just write about what your characters did, said, and saw. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit in to this story? What is my personal connection to this story?”

Robert Frost said this:

If you can connect your personal story to the story you’re writing, you will not only be more motivated to finish your story, you might just be able to change the lives of your readers.

Next Step: Write Your Best Story

No matter how good your idea, writing a story or a book can be a long difficult process. How do you create an outline, come up with a great plot, and then actually  finish  it?

My new book  The Write Structure  will help. You'll learn how to take your idea and structure a strong plot around it. Then you'll be guided through the exact process I've used to write dozens of short stories and over fifteen books.

You can learn more about   The Write Structure  and get your copy here.

Get The Write Structure here »

Have a great short story idea?  We'd love to hear it. Share it in the comments !

Choose one of these ideas and write a short story in one sitting (aim for 1,000 words or less!). When you're finished, share your story in the practice box below (or our latest writing contest ) for feedback from the community. And if you share, please be sure to comment on a few stories by other writers.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their Secrets

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Teaching students to write is no easy feat, and it’s a topic that has often been discussed on this blog.

It’s also a challenge that can’t have too much discussion!

Today, four educators share their most effective writing lessons.

‘Three Practices That Create Confident Writers’

Penny Kittle teaches first-year writers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She was a teacher and literacy coach in public schools for 34 years and is the author of nine books, including Micro Mentor Texts (Scholastic). She is the founder and president of the Book Love Foundation, which annually grants classroom libraries to teachers throughout North America:

I write almost every day. Like anything I want to do well, I practice. Today, I wrote about the wild dancing, joyful energy, and precious time I spent with my daughter at a Taylor Swift concert. Then I circled back to notes on Larry’s question about teaching writers. I wrote badly, trying to find a through line. I followed detours and crossed out bad ideas. I stopped to think. I tried again. I lost faith in my words. I will get there , I told myself. I trust my process.

I haven’t always written this easily or this much. I wouldn’t say I’m a “natural” writer because I don’t believe they exist. Writing is work. When I entered college, I received a C-minus on my first paper. I was stunned. I had never worked at writing: I was a “first drafter,” an “only drafter.” And truthfully, I didn’t know how or what to practice. I was assigned writing in high school and I completed it. I rarely received feedback. I didn’t get better. I didn’t learn to think like a writer; I thought like a student.

I’ve now spent 40 years studying writing and teaching writers in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school, as well as teachers earning graduate degrees. Despite their age, writers in school share one remarkably similar trait: a lack of confidence. Confidence is a brilliant and fiery light; it draws your eyes, your heart, and your mind. But in fact, it is as rare as the Northern Lights. I feel its absence every fall in my composition courses.

We can change that.

Confidence blooms in classrooms focused on the growth of writers.

This happens in classrooms where the teacher relies less on lessons and more on a handful of practices. Unfortunately, though, in most classrooms, a heap of time is spent directing students to practice “writing-like” activities: restrictive templates for assignments, with detailed criteria focused on rules. Those activities handcuff writers. If you tell me what to do and how to do it, I will focus on either completing the task or avoiding it. That kind of writing work doesn’t require much thinking; it is merely labor.

Practice creating, on the other hand, is harder, but it is how we develop the important ability to let our ideas come and then shaping them into cohesive arguments, stories, poems, and observations. We have misunderstood the power of writing to create thinking. Likewise, we have misunderstood the limitations of narrow tasks. So, here are my best instructional practices that lead to confidence and growth in writers.

1. Writing Notebooks and Daily Revision. Writers need time to write. Think of it as a habit we begin to engage in with little effort, like serving a tennis ball from the baseline or dribbling a basketball or sewing buttonholes. Writers need daily time to whirl words, to spin ideas, to follow images that blink inside them as they move their pen across the page. In my classroom, writing time most often follows engagement with a poem.

Likewise, writers need guidance in rereading their first drafts of messy thinking. I’ve seen teachers open their notebooks and invite students to watch them shape sentences. They demonstrate how small revisions increase clarity and rhythm. Their students watch them find a focus and maintain it. Teachers show the effort and the joy of writing well.

Here’s an example: We listen to a beautiful poem such as “Montauk” by Sarah Kay, her tribute to growing up. Students write freely from lines or images that spring to them as they listen. I write in my notebook as students write in theirs for 4-5 minutes. Then I read my entry aloud, circling subjects and detours ( I don’t know why I wrote so much about my dog, but maybe I have more to say about this … ). I model how to find a focus. I invite students to do the same.

2. Writers Study Writing . Writers imitate structures, approaches, and ways of reaching readers. They read like writers to find possibilities: Look what the writer did here and here . A template essay can be an effective tool to write for a test, but thankfully, that is a very small and insignificant part of the whole of writing for any of us. Real writing grows from studying the work of other writers. We study sentences, passages, essays, and articles to understand how they work, as we create our own.

3. Writers Have Conversations as They Work . When writers practice the skills and embrace the challenges of writing in community, it expands possibilities. Every line read from a notebook carries the mark of a particular writer: the passion, the voice, the experiences, and the vulnerability of each individual. That kind of sharing drives process talk ( How did you think to write about that? Who do you imagine you are speaking to? ), which showcases the endless variation in writers and leads to “writerly thinking.” It shifts conversations from “right and wrong” to “how and why.”

Long ago, at a local elementary school, in a workshop for teachers, I watched Don Graves list on the chalkboard subjects he was considering writing about. He read over his list and chose one. From there, he wrote several sentences, talking aloud about the decisions he was making as a writer. Then he turned to accept and answer questions.

“Why do this?” someone asked.

“Because you are the most important writer in the room,” Don said. “You are showing students why anyone would write when they don’t have to.” He paused, then added, “If not you, who?”

confidenceblooms

Developing ‘Student Voice’

A former independent school English teacher and administrator, Stephanie Farley is a writer and educational consultant working with teachers and schools on issues of curriculum, assessment, instruction, SEL, and building relationships. Her book, Joyful Learning: Tools to Infuse Your 6-12 Classroom with Meaning, Relevance, and Fun is available from Routledge Eye on Education:

Teaching writing is my favorite part of being a teacher. It’s incredibly fun to talk about books with kids, but for me, it’s even more fun to witness students’ skills and confidence grow as they figure out how to use written language to communicate what they mean.

A lesson I used to like doing was in “voice.” My 8th graders had a hard time understanding what I meant when I asked them to consider “voice” in their writing. The best illustration I came up with was playing Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space” for students. Some students groaned while others clapped. (Doesn’t this always happen when we play music for students? There’s no song that makes everyone happy!) But when they settled down, I encouraged them to listen to the style: the arrangement, her voice as she sang, the dominant instruments.

Then, I played a cover of “Blank Space” by Ryan Adams. Eyes rolled as the song unfurled through the speakers, but again I reminded students to listen to the arrangement, voice, and instruments. After about 60 seconds of the Adams version, heads nodded in understanding. When the music ended and I asked students to explain voice to me, they said it’s “making something your own … like your own style.” Yes!

The next step was applying this new understanding to their own writing. Students selected a favorite sentence from the books they were reading, then tried to write it in their own voice. We did this a few times, until everyone had competently translated Kwame Alexander into “Rosa-style” or Kelly Link into “Michael-style.” Finally, when it was time for students to write their own longer works—stories, personal essays, or narratives—they intentionally used the words and sentence patterns they had identified as their own voice.

I’m happy to report this method worked! In fact, it was highly effective. Students’ papers were more idiosyncratic, nuanced, and creative. The only change to this lesson I’d make now is trying to find a more zeitgeist-y song with the hope that the groans at the beginning die down a little faster.

itsfun

Teaching ELLs

Irina McGrath, Ph.D., is an assistant principal at Newcomer Academy in the Jefferson County school district in Kentucky and the president of KYTESOL. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, Indiana University Southeast, and Bellarmine University. She is a co-creator of the ELL2.0 site that offers free resources for teachers of English learners:

Reflecting on my experience of teaching writing to English learners, I have come to realize that writing can be daunting, especially when students are asked to write in English, a language they are learning to master. The most successful writing lessons I have taught were those that transformed the process into an enjoyable experience, fostering a sense of accomplishment and pride in my students.

To achieve this, I prioritized the establishment of a supportive learning environment. At the beginning of each school year, I set norms that emphasized the importance of writing for everyone, including myself as their teacher. I encouraged students to write in English and their native language and I wrote alongside my English learners to demonstrate that writing is a journey that requires hard work and dedication, regardless of age or previous writing experiences. By witnessing my own struggles, my students felt encouraged to persevere.

My English learners understood that errors were expected and that they were valuable opportunities for growth and improvement. This created a comfortable atmosphere where students felt more confident taking risks and experimenting with their writing. Rather than being discouraged by mistakes, they viewed them as steppingstones toward progress.

In my most effective writing lessons, I provided scaffolds such as sentence stems, sentence frames, and word banks. I also encouraged my students to use translation tools to help generate ideas on paper. These scaffolds empowered English learners to independently tackle more challenging writing assignments and nurtured their confidence in completing writing tasks. During writers’ circles, we discussed the hard work invested in each writing piece, shared our work, and celebrated each other’s success.

Furthermore, my most successful writing lessons integrated reading and writing. I taught my students to read like writers and utilized mentor texts to emulate the craft of established authors, which they could later apply to their own writing. Mentor texts, such as picture books, short stories, or articles, helped my students observe how professional writers use dialogue, sentence structure, and descriptive language to enhance their pieces.

Instead of overwhelming students with information, I broke down writing into meaningful segments and taught through mini lessons. For example, we analyzed the beginnings of various stories to examine story leads. Then, collaboratively, my students and I created several leads together. When they were ready, I encouraged them to craft their own leads and select the most appropriate one for their writing piece.

Ultimately, my most effective lessons were those in which I witnessed the joyful smiles on my English learners’ faces as they engaged with pages filled with written or typed words. It is during those moments that I knew my writers were creating and genuinely enjoying their work.

To access a self-checklist that students and EL teachers can use when teaching or creating a writing piece in English, you can visit the infographic at bit.ly/ABC_of_Writing .

iprovided

‘Model Texts’

Anastasia M. Martinez is an English-language-development and AVID Excel teacher in Pittsburg, Calif.:

As a second-language learner, writing in English had not always been my suit. It was not until graduate school that I immersed myself in a vast array of journals, articles, and other academic works, which ultimately helped me find my academic voice and develop my writing style. Now, working as an ESL teacher with a diverse group of middle school multilingual learners, I always provide a model text relevant to a topic or prompt we are exploring.

When students have a model text, it gives them a starting point for their own writing and presents writing as less scary, where they get stuck on the first sentence and do not know how to start.

At the start of the lesson, prior to using a model text, I create a “do now” activity that guides my students’ attention to the topic and creates a relevant context for the text. After students share their ideas with a partner and then the class, we transition to our lesson objectives, and I introduce the model text. We first use prereading strategies to analyze the text, and students share what they notice based on the title, images, and a number of paragraphs. Then, depending on the students’ proficiency level, I read the text to the class, or students read the text as partners, thinking about what the text was mostly about.

After students read and share their ideas with partners and then the whole class, we transition to deconstructing the text. These multiple reengagements with the text help students become more familiar with it, as well as help students build reading fluency.

When deconstructing the model text, I guide my students through each paragraph and sentence. During that time, students orally share their ideas determining the meaning of specific paragraphs or sentences, which we later annotate in the model text using different colored highlighters or pens. Color coding helps visually guide students through similar parts of the model text. For instance, if we highlight evidence in paragraph 2 in one color, we also highlight evidence in the same color in the following paragraph. It helps students see the similarities between the paragraphs and discover the skeleton of the writing. Additionally, color coding helps students during their writing process and revision. Students can check if they used all parts of the writing based on the colors.

Furthermore, one of the essential pieces during deconstructing model texts that I draw my students’ attention to is transition words and “big words,” or academic vocabulary. We usually box them in the text, and I question students about why the author used a particular word in the text. Later, when students do their own writing, they can integrate new vocabulary and transition words, which enhances their vocabulary and language skills.

As the next step, I invite students to co-create a similar piece of writing with a partner or independently using our model text as their guide. Later, our model text serves as a checklist for individual and partner revisions, which students could use to give each other feedback.

Model texts are an essential part of the writing process in any content-area class. As educators, we should embrace the importance of model texts, as they provide a solid foundation upon which students can develop their unique writing skills, tone, and voice.

modeltexts

Thanks to Penny, Stephanie, Irina, and Anastasia for contributing their thoughts!

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected] . When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo .

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email . And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 12 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list here .

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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  1. 43 CREATIVE WRITING ACTIVITIES FOR BEGINNERS

    creative writing ideas and activities

  2. 17 Creative Writing Worksheets For Adults / worksheeto.com

    creative writing ideas and activities

  3. 5th Grade Creative Writing Ideas for Students

    creative writing ideas and activities

  4. 115 creative journal writing prompts for kids & adults

    creative writing ideas and activities

  5. Roll A Story

    creative writing ideas and activities

  6. Creative Writing Topics for Kids

    creative writing ideas and activities

COMMENTS

  1. 43 Creative Writing Exercises & Games For Adults

    Learn how to write better with fun and creative writing exercises that can be completed solo or with a group. From introductory prompts to editing exercises, these activities will help you generate story ideas, improve your skills, and overcome writer's block.

  2. 105 Creative Writing Exercises: 10 Min Writing Exercises

    Learn how to get creative writing ideas and activities with over 105 short writing exercises designed to help you beat writer's block and improve your skills. From random words to random images, from character swaps to fantasy worlds, these exercises will inspire you to write anything and everything.

  3. 1800+ Creative Writing Prompts To Inspire You Right Now

    Showing 2074 prompts Write a story about two people falling in love via email. LIVE - Valentine's Day Write a story about a first or last kiss. LIVE - Valentine's Day Write about a cynical character who somehow ends up on a blind date. LIVE - Valentine's Day Write about a successful marriage proposal, or one that goes horribly wrong.

  4. 100 Creative Writing Prompts for Writers

    100 Creative Writing Prompts for Writers 1. The Variants of Vampires. Think of an alternative vampire that survives on something other than blood. Write a story or scene based on this character. 2. Spinning the Globe. Imagine that a character did the old spin the globe and see where to take your next vacation trick.

  5. 29 Easy, Fun, and Effective Writing Exercises

    Copywriting Exercises. Write a fake ad for your favorite product. Advertising is one of marketing's biggest moneymakers, from TV commercials to print ads in magazines. Study the type of ad that you'd like to recreate and put together a few examples of your own. Write a letter to a friend trying to sell them something.

  6. 25 Creative Writing Prompts to Ignite Your Creativity

    Creative Primer is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We'll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life. My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I'm a creative (jury's out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and ...

  7. 365 Creative Writing Prompts

    1. Outside the Window: What's the weather outside your window doing right now? If that's not inspiring, what's the weather like somewhere you wish you could be? 2. The Unrequited love poem: How do you feel when you love someone who does not love you back? 3.

  8. 8 Creative Writing Exercises to Strengthen Your Writing

    8 Creative Writing Exercises to Strengthen Your Writing Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 23, 2021 • 4 min read 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.

  9. Creative Writing Ideas: Best Prompts, Exercises, Writer's Block Busters

    Creative Writing Ideas For Adults. The following are some ready-made ideas and prompts for creative writing and story starters to help get your creative juices flowing: Love is certainly one of the most popular themes in writing. Use these 25 creative writing prompts about love to create your own unique story.

  10. 18+ Creative Writing Activities To Make Writing Fun

    Encourage your kids to explore their creativity and write down their thoughts with these fun and colourful creative writing activities. From story maps to finger puppets, from Would You Rather to shape poetry, from image prompts to story cubes, you can find 12 ideas to make writing less boring and more fun.

  11. Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started

    If you're interested in the world of creative writing, we have eight fantastic exercises and activities to get you started. ️🤩 Don't miss on the joy of Creative Writing: here are 8 ways to get started. Click to tweet! 1. Use writing prompts every week. Coming up with ideas for short stories can be challenging, which is why we created a ...

  12. Wow! 1000+ Prompts & Creative Writing Ideas » JournalBuddies.com

    Table Of Contents Why I Love Sharing Creative Writing Prompts with You List of 28 Brand New Creative Writing Ideas and Prompts Themes, Topics, and Categories of Creative Writing Ideas Check Out and See All 1000+ Creative Writing Ideas! Ignite Your Writing Inspiration with Creative Ideas Improve Your Creative Writing Skills with Journal Buddies

  13. ️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

    Eight. Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms.

  14. 50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

    For instance, bench pressing while reciting the emperors in a Chinese dynasty. 26. Write a paragraph where a character does a simple action, like turning on a light switch, and make the reader marvel at how strange and odd it truly is. 27. Have a couple fight while playing a board game.

  15. 55 Creative Writing Activities for All Ages

    Creating comic strips using a template Talking out loud about a recent dream Writing a poem using rhyming words you provide Creating an acrostic from a special word Creative writing exercises don't have to end in a finished piece of work. If the exercise encouraged creative thinking and helped the student put pen to paper, it's done its job.

  16. Unusual Creative Writing Activities That Will Motivate and Inspire You

    This is a fun exercise to do with kids, by the way. Chalk a poem or a piece of flash fiction. If you want to save it, take a photo before washing it all away. Stand and Deliver: There are lots of ways you can write while standing. You can stand at a counter, for example, and write in your notebook.

  17. 10 Great Creative Writing Activities To Try Today

    1. Use Writing Prompts If you want to write, consider keeping a record of books you want to read or quotes that inspire you. I also recommend building a personal library of writing prompts. A writing prompt is simply a question, statement or single sentence that serves as a springboard into your creative work.

  18. Creative Writing Activities To Help Students Tell Their Story

    1. Write an "I am from" poem Students read the poem "I am From" by George Ella Lyon. Then, they draft a poem about their own identity in the same format Lyon used. Finally, students create a video to publish their poems. We love this one because the mentor text gives a clear structure and example that students can follow.

  19. 10 Fun Writing Activities for Reluctant Writers

    1. Poetry Scavenger Hunt 2. Story Chains 3. Acrostic Associations 4. The What If Challenge 5. The Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World 6. Diary Entry of a Future Self 7. Comic Strip Script 8. Character Interviews 9. The Travel Journal 10. The Fairy Tale Remix MORE FUN WRITING ACTIVITIES FOR YOU 10 FUN WRITING ACTIVITIES FOR THE RELUCTANT WRITER

  20. 7 Creative Writing Exercises For Writers

    5. Try Writing Flash Fiction. Try to crank out a piece of flash fiction. As with other creative writing exercises, don't spend too much time at it. Simply sit down in front of the computer or a piece of paper, and begin writing. Flash fiction doesn't usually go beyond 500 words, so try to keep it short.

  21. 20 creative writing prompts that you can do in 10 minutes

    1. Write a eulogy for a sandwich, to be delivered while eating it. 2. Write the ad for an expensive new drug that improves bad posture. Now, list the possible side effects. 3. Think about your day so far (even if it's still morning). What's the highlight at this point? 4. Write the first communication sent back to Earth after humans land on Mars.

  22. Top 100 Short Story Ideas

    Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests , for stories to publish in literary magazines, or just for fun! Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now. Editor's note: This is a recurring guide, regularly updated with ...

  23. Creative Writing Ideas and Activities

    Creative Writing Ideas and Activities Do YOUR Students Enjoy Creative Writing? Do they beg to read drafts and finished pieces to you or their classmates? Is creative writing their favorite "guilty pleasure"? Are they secretly composing their own illustrated chapter books "just for the fun of it"?

  24. How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their

    Teaching students to write is no easy feat, and it's a topic that has often been discussed on this blog. Penny Kittle teaches first-year writers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire ...

  25. Danielle

    232 likes, 7 comments - wildsapling.crochet on February 15, 2024: "臨 If you have ever thought that someone is naturally talented because of their creativity… I..."