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Guides • Perfecting your Craft

Last updated on Dec 23, 2022

Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started

Creative writing is a written art form that uses the imagination to tell stories and compose essays, poetry, screenplays, novels, lyrics, and more. It can be defined in opposition to the dry and factual types of writing found in academic, technical, or journalistic texts.

Characterized by its ability to evoke emotion and engage readers, creative writing can tackle themes and ideas that one might struggle to discuss in cold, factual terms.

If you’re interested in the world of creative writing, we have eight fantastic exercises and activities to get you started.

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1. Use writing prompts every week

Illustration of a writer getting ready for a creative writing contest

Coming up with ideas for short stories can be challenging, which is why we created a directory of 1700+ creative writing prompts covering a wide range of genres and topics. Writing prompts are flexible in nature, they are meant to inspire you without being too constrictive. Overall, they are a great way to keep your creative muscles limber.

Example of Reedsy's Creative Writing Prompts

If you’re struggling for motivation, how does a hard deadline and a little prize money sound? Prompts-based writing contests are a fantastic way to dive into creative writing: the combination of due dates, friendly rivalries, prize money, and the potential to have your work published is often just what’s needed to propel you over the finish line. 

We run a weekly writing contest over on Reedsy Prompts, where hundreds of writers from all around the world challenge themselves weekly to write a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words for a chance to win the $250 prize. Furthermore, the community is very active in providing constructive feedback, support, and accountability to each other 一 something that will make your efforts even more worthwhile.

Take a peek at our directory of writing contests which features some of the most prestigious open writing competitions in the world. 

2. Start journaling your days

Illustration of a writer journaling in autumn

Another easy way to get started with creative writing is to keep a journal. We’re not talking about an hour-by-hour account of your day, but journaling as a way to express yourself without filters and find your ‘voice in writing’. If you’re unsure what to journal about, think of any daily experiences that have had an impact on you, such as… 

Special moments . Did you lock yourself out of your house? Or did you catch a beautiful sunset on your way back from groceries? Capture those moments, and how you felt about them.

People . Did you have an unusual exchange with a stranger at the bar? Or did you reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years? Share your thoughts about it.

World events . Is there something happening in the world right now that is triggering you? That’s understandable. You can reflect on it (and let some steam off) while journaling.

Memories . Did you go down memory lane after a glass of wine? Great, honor those memories by trying to recollect them in detail on paper so that they will always stay vivid in your mind.

Life decisions . Are you having an existential crisis about what to do with your life? Write down your thought process, and the pros and cons of the possible decisions in front of you. You’ll be surprised to discover that, not only is it a great creative writing exercise, but it can also actually help you sort your life out! 

If you struggle to write consistently, sign up for our How to Write a Novel course to finish a novel in just 3 months.  

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3. Create an anonymous social media account

Illustration of a writer thinking

Like anonymous blogging, an incognito Twitter account sidesteps the pressure that comes with attaching your name to your work. Anonymously putting tiny stories out into the ether gives you the freedom to create without worrying about the consequences — which is great, so long as you don’t use it as an opportunity to troll people or spread conspiracy theories. 

You could use the anonymous account in different ways. For example, you could…

  • Tweet from unique points of view (e.g. a dog observing human behavior );
  • Create a parody account of real or fictional people (e.g. an English poet from the Middle Ages );
  • Challenge yourself to write tiny flash fiction stories that fit into Twitter threads.

Just remember, you’re not doing this to fool anyone into thinking that your account is real: be a good citizen and mark yourself a fiction account in your bio. 

How to Start Creative Writing | Screenshot of a tweet by the Twitter account

But if you’re not really a social media kinda person, you may enjoy our next tip, which is a bit more on the analog side.

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4. Find an old photo and tell its story

Illustration of a photo-inspired journaling exercise

Find a random old photo — maybe on the web, maybe from a photo album in a yard sale — and see what catches your attention. Look closely at it and try to imagine the story behind it. What was happening? Who are the people in it and how are they really feeling? Do they share a relationship, and of what kind? What are their goals and dreams?

In other words, bring the photo to life with your imagination. Don't be afraid to take artistic license with your story, as the goal is to be creative and have fun while writing. 

How do you know it’s creative writing?

Creative Writing | info card listing 5 headers below

5. Create a character from a random name

Illustration of a young poet and a warrior back to back

Just as our universe started from a few simple elements, you can create a character from a few basic information, like their name, culture, and gender. Reedsy’s handy character name generator can help you with that, offering random names based on archetypes, Medieval roots, fantasy traits and more. A few examples? A Celtic heroine named Fíona O'Keefe, a hero’s sidekick named Aderine, or a Korean track star named Park Kang-Dae.

Once you've chosen their name, begin to develop their personality. Set a timer for 5–10 minutes and write anything that comes to mind about them. It could be a page from their FBI dossier, a childhood diary entry, or simply a scene about them boiling an egg.

Just ‘go with the flow’ and don’t stop writing until your time is up. Repeat the process a few times to further hone the personality. If you like what you end up with, you can always go deeper later with our character profile template . 

If a stream-of-consciousness exercise is not your thing, you can try to imagine your character in a specific situation and write down how’d they respond to it. For example, what if they were betrayed by a friend? Or if they were elected in power? To help you imagine situations to put your character in, we made a free template that you can download below. 

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Reedsy’s Character Questionnaire

40 questions to help you develop memorable characters.

6. Construct a character by people-watching

A writer observing a person and taking notes

People watching is “the action of spending time idly observing people in a public place.” In a non-creepy way, ideally. Sit on a bench on a public square or on a road-side table at your favorite café, and start observing the people around you. Pay attention to any interesting quirks or behaviors, and write it down. Then put on your detective’s hat and try to figure out what that tells you about them.

For example, the man at the table next to you at the restaurant is reading the newspaper. His jacket and hat are neatly arranged next to him. The pages make a whipping sound as he briskly turns them, and he grimaces every time he reads a new article. Try to imagine what he’s reading, and why he’s reacting the way he is. Then, try to build a character with the information you have. It’s a fun creative exercise that will also, hopefully, help you better empathize with strangers. 

7. “Map” something you feel strongly about into a new context

Illustration of a young romance writer

Placing your feelings into new contexts can be a powerful creative writing exercise. The idea is to start from something you feel strongly about, and frame it into a completely different context. 

For example, suppose your heart is torn apart after you divorce your life-long partner: instead of journaling or writing a novel about it, you could tell a story about a legendary trapeze duo whose partnership has come to an end. If you’re struggling with politicking and petty power dynamics at the office: what if you “mapped” your feelings onto an ant who resents being part of a colony? Directing your frustration at a queen ant can be a fun and cathartic writing experience (that won’t get you in trouble if your co-workers end up reading your story).   

8. Capture the moment with a haiku

Illustration of a haiku poet inspired by the four seasons

Haikus are poems from the Japanese tradition that aim to capture, in a few words, daily moments of insight (usually inspired by nature). In a nutshell, it’s about becoming mindful of your surroundings, and notice if you can see something in a new or deeper way 一 then use contrasting imagery to express whatever you noticed. 

Here’s an example:

Bright orange bicycle

Speeding through the autumn leaves

A burst of color waves

It may sound a bit complicated, but it shouldn’t be 一 at least not for the purpose of this exercise. Learn the basics of haiku-writing , then challenge yourself to write one per day for a week or month. At the end, you’ll be able to look back at your collection of poems and 一 in the worst case scenario 一 revisit small but significant moments that you would have otherwise forgot about.   

Creative writing can be any writing you put your heart and soul into. It could be made for the purpose of expressing your feelings, exploring an idea, or simply entertaining your readers. As you can see there’s many paths to get involved with it, and hundreds of exercises you can use as a starting point. In the next post, we’ll look more in detail at some creative writing examples from some fellow authors. 

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10 Effective Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing

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Writing a story is a craft that requires constant tweaks, edits and trial and error by the writer. Here are ten tips to improve your creative writing and save you hours of painful re-writing in the future.

(1) Don’t underestimate your reader

You have a fantastic plot, your characters are realistic, the setting is ideal and you want to make sure that the reader gets every little detail that you have in mind. Great!

The only problem is that you may be tempted to bombard your reader with many intimate details so that they see it exactly as you do. In-depth descriptions can be useful and effective, but don’t overdo it. Keep your writing neat and tight; don’t waste space on long, rambling descriptions about things that aren’t necessary to your story.

Wouldn’t it be ideal if editors received submissions and decided to look past the typos and incorrect formatting because they think it might be a little gem of a story? The fact is that if your manuscript is full of errors or doesn’t follow the required guidelines then it’s going in the trash.

Don’t rely on your computer’s spell checker. If you make a typo, the computer will not warn you if you’ve still spelt a valid word. Your gorgeous heroine meets the bog (boy) of her dreams? The wealthy doctor places his golf ball on his tea (tee)?

(3) Give Your Characters Life

Characters are vital to your story so treat them with care and give them that breath of life that you, the writer, have the power to give. Give them unique characteristics; make them believable by making them have a purpose, motivation and conflicts to resolve.

(4) Use Strong Words

You want your writing to sound decisive, so use words that get the point across. Did Bob’s really big headache cause him a lot of pain or did Bob’s migraine cause excruciating pain? But remember not to overdo it: don’t use words that the reader won’t understand, you want to use strong words, not confusing or extravagant ones.

(5) Show Don’t Tell.

Who hasn’t heard that one before? But it’s a valid point and a useful rule for all writers. Fiction is for entertainment, so entertain your reader! Give them an excuse to escape into the reality that you have created. Let them see, hear, feel, smell, laugh, cry, love and hate. Show your reader the world that you’ve created, don’t just tell them about it.

(6) Check your Commas

While commas can be effective many inexperienced writers tend to sprinkle their sentences with them. When placed incorrectly, commas can chop up your sentences and sometimes even alter the meaning. Brush up on your high-school grammar; your work will improve with that alone.

(7) Grab their Attention from the Start

Opening lines are often referred to as ‘the hook’ because that’s exactly what you want them to be. You get the reader’s attention and reel them in for the rest of the story. Try something powerful to kick-start your story. For example: ‘Mark’s back broke with an audible crack’ or ‘Eliza didn’t realize that she was going blind’ or ‘The bullet that pierced Henry’s back and left him paralyzed was meant for a homeless man’. Each of these lines makes the reader ask ‘why?’ and once they ask that question, the reader will keep on reading until they find the answer.

(8) Give Your Reader a Satisfactory Ending

You can leave the reader speculating or wondering why at the end of your story, but try to resolve as much as you can. If your reader finishes the last sentence and is still asking questions about what happened to who and why, then you still need to tie up the loose ends.

(9) Sober up

Think of writing as going out to a bar: you go out, the lighting is dim, it’s noisy, maybe you drink too much but you meet a person who’s attractive, witty, shares the same interests as you and you’re smitten by them. A few days later you meet for coffee: are they as good looking or charming as you remember?

This can happen with writing. You become intoxicated with the feeling of success and think that you have written an award-winning piece. The question is, once you’ve sobered up, is it as good as you thought it was? Put your manuscript away and try not to think about it for a couple days. Then take it out and read it with a clear, open mind. Read it through once from beginning to end, then break it up into sections, then read it sentence by sentence. Is it as good as you remembered? If so, then well done! But the odds are that if you were too excited about finally wrapping it up, then you’ll find some points to revise.

(10) Challenge Yourself

Are you trying too hard to write in a specific genre or style? Do you only write short stories or novels or poems or movie scripts? Give that creative muscle a workout and try something different. It will be a refreshing exercise for your mind and you might be surprised by the result. If you don’t succeed then you have still learnt a valuable lesson.

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  • Creativity Techniques

26+ Creative Writing Tips for Young Writers

So you want to be a writer? And not just any writer, you want to be a creative writer. The road to being a legendary storyteller won’t be easy, but with our creative writing tips for kids, you’ll be on the right track! Creative writing isn’t just about writing stories. You could write poems, graphic novels, song lyrics and even movie scripts. But there is one thing you’ll need and that is good creative writing skills. 

Here are over 26 tips to improve your creative writing skills :

Read a wide range of books

When it comes to creative writing, reading is essential. Reading allows you to explore the styles of other writers and gain inspiration to improve your own writing. But don’t just limit yourself to reading only popular books or your favourites. Read all sorts of books, everything from fairytales to scary stories. Take a look at comics, short stories, novels and poetry. Just fill your heads with the knowledge and wisdom of other writers and soon you’ll be just like them!

Write about real-life events

The hardest thing about creative writing is connecting emotionally with your audience. By focusing your writing on real-life events, you know that in some way or another your readers will be able to relate. And with creative writing you don’t need to use real names or details – There are certain things you can keep private while writing about the rare details. Using real-life events is also a good way to find inspiration for your stories. 

Be imaginative

Be as crazy and wild as you like with your imagination. Create your world, your own monsters , or even your own language! The more imaginative your story, the more exciting it will be to read. Remember that there are no rules on what makes a good idea in creative writing. So don’t be afraid to make stuff up!

Find your writing style

Thes best writers have a particular style about them. When you think of Roald Dahl , you know his books are going to have a sense of humour. While with Dr Seuss , you’re prepared to read some funny new words . Alternatively, when you look at R.L.Stine, you know that he is all about the horror. Think about your own writing style. Do you want to be a horror writer? Maybe someone who always writes in the first person? Will always focus your books on your culture or a particular character?

Stick to a routine

Routine is extremely important to writers. If you just write some stuff here and there, it’s likely that you’ll soon give up on writing altogether! A strict routine means that every day at a certain time you will make time to write about something, anything. Even if you’re bored or can’t think of anything, you’ll still pick up that pencil and write. Soon enough you’ll get into the habit of writing good stuff daily and this is definitely important for anyone who wants to be a professional creative writer!

Know your audience

Writing isn’t just about thinking about your own interests, it’s also about thinking about the interests of your audience. If you want to excite fellow classmates, know what they like. Do they like football , monsters or a particular video game? With that knowledge, you can create the most popular book for your target audience. A book that they can’t stop reading and will recommend to others! 

Daily Exercises

To keep your creative writing skills up to scratch it is important to keep practising every day. Even if you have no inspiration. At times when your mind is blank, you should try to use tools like writing prompts , video prompts or other ways of coming up with ideas . You could even take a look at these daily writing exercises as an example. We even created a whole list of over 100 creative writing exercises to try out when you need some inspiration or ideas. 

Work together with others

Everyone needs a little help now and then. We recommend joining a writing club or finding other classmates who are also interested in writing to improve your own creative writing skills. Together you can share ideas, tips and even write a story together! A good storytelling game to play in a group is the “ finish the story” game . 

Get feedback

Without feedback, you’ll never be able to improve your writing. Feedback, whether good or bad is important to all writers. Good feedback gives you the motivation to carry on. While bad feedback just gives you areas to improve and adapt your writing, so you can be the best! After every piece of writing always try to get feedback from it, whether it is from friends, family, teachers or an online writing community .

Enter writing competitions

The best way to improve your creative writing is by entering all sorts of writing competitions . Whether it’s a poetry competition or short story competition, competitions let you compete against other writers and even help you get useful feedback on your writing. Most competitions even have rules to structure your writing, these rules can help you prepare for the real world of writing and getting your work published. And not only that you might even win some cool prizes!

Keep a notebook

Every writer’s best friend is their notebook. Wherever you go make sure you have a notebook handy to jot down any ideas you get on the go. Inspiration can come from anywhere , so the next time you get an idea instead of forgetting about it, write it down. You never know, this idea could become a best-selling novel in the future. 

Research your ideas

So, you got a couple of ideas for short stories. The next step is to research these ideas deeper. 

Researching your ideas could involve reading books similar to your ideas or going online to learn more about a particular topic. For example, if you wanted to write a book on dragons, you would want to know everything about them in history to come up with a good, relatable storyline for your book.

Create Writing Goals

How do you know if your writing is improving over time? Simple – Just create writing goals for yourself. Examples of writing goals might include, to write 100 words every day or to write 600 words by the end of next week. Whatever your goals make sure you can measure them easily. That way you’ll know if you met them or not. You might want to take a look at these bullet journal layouts for writers to help you track the progress of your writing.

Follow your passions

Writing can be tedious and many people even give up after writing a few words. The only way you can keep that fire burning is by writing about your true passions. Whatever it is you enjoy doing or love, you could just write about those things. These are the types of things you’ll enjoy researching and already know so much about, making writing a whole lot more fun!

Don’t Settle for the first draft

You finally wrote your first story. But the writing process isn’t complete yet! Now it’s time to read your story and make the all-important edits. Editing your story is more than just fixing spelling or grammar mistakes. It’s also about criticising your own work and looking for areas of improvement. For example, is the conflict strong enough? Is your opening line exciting? How can you improve your ending?

Plan before writing

Never just jump into writing your story. Always plan first! Whether this means listing down the key scenes in your story or using a storyboard template to map out these scenes. You should have an outline of your story somewhere, which you can refer to when actually writing your story. This way you won’t make basic mistakes like not having a climax in your story which builds up to your main conflict or missing crucial characters out.

It’s strange the difference it makes to read your writing out aloud compared to reading it in your head. When reading aloud you tend to notice more mistakes in your sentences or discover paragraphs which make no sense at all. You might even want to read your story aloud to your family or a group of friends to get feedback on how your story sounds. 

Pace your story

Pacing is important. You don’t want to just start and then quickly jump into the main conflict because this will take all the excitement away from your conflict. And at the same time, you don’t want to give the solution away too early and this will make your conflict too easy for your characters to solve. The key is to gradually build up to your conflict by describing your characters and the many events that lead up to the main conflict. Then you might want to make the conflict more difficult for your characters by including more than one issue in your story to solve. 

Think about themes

Every story has a theme or moral. Some stories are about friendship, others are about the dangers of trusting strangers. And a story can even have more than one theme. The point of a theme is to give something valuable to your readers once they have finished reading your book. In other words, to give them a life lesson, they’ll never forget!

Use dialogue carefully

Dialogue is a tricky thing to get right. Your whole story should not be made up of dialogue unless you’re writing a script. Alternatively, it can be strange to include no dialogue at all in your story. The purpose of dialogue should be to move your story forward. It should also help your readers learn more about a particular character’s personality and their relationship with other characters in your book. 

One thing to avoid with dialogue is… small talk! There’s no point in writing dialogue, such as “How’s the weather?”, if your story has nothing to do with the weather. This is because it doesn’t move your story along.  For more information check out this guide on how to write dialogue in a story .

Write now, edit later

Writing is a magical process. Don’t lose that magic by focusing on editing your sentences while you’re still writing your story up. Not only could this make your story sound fragmented, but you might also forget some key ideas to include in your story or take away the imagination from your writing. When it comes to creative writing, just write and come back to editing your story later.

Ask yourself questions

Always question your writing. Once done, think about any holes in your story. Is there something the reader won’t understand or needs further describing? What if your character finds another solution to solving the conflict? How about adding a new character or removing a character from your story? There are so many questions to ask and keep asking them until you feel confident about your final piece.

Create a dedicated writing space

Some kids like writing on their beds, others at the kitchen table. While this is good for beginners, going pro with your writing might require having a dedicated writing space. Some of the basics you’ll need is a desk and comfy chair, along with writing materials like pens, pencils and notebooks. But to really create an inspiring place, you could also stick some beautiful pictures, some inspiring quotes from writers and anything else that will keep you motivated and prepared. 

Beware of flowery words

Vocabulary is good. It’s always exciting when you learn a new word that you have never heard before. But don’t go around plotting in complicated words into your story, unless it’s necessary to show a character’s personality. Most long words are not natural sounding, meaning your audience will have a hard time relating to your story if it’s full of complicated words from the dictionary like Xenophobia or Xylograph .

Create believable characters

Nobody’s perfect. And why should your story characters be any different? To create believable characters, you’ll need to give them some common flaws as well as some really cool strengths. Your character’s flaws can be used as a setback to why they can’t achieve their goals, while their strengths are the things that will help win over adversity. Just think about your own strengths and weaknesses and use them as inspirations for your storybook characters. You can use the Imagine Forest character creator to plan out your story characters. 

Show, don’t tell

You can say that someone is nice or you can show them how that person is nice. Take the following as an example, “Katie was a nice girl.” Now compare that sentence to this, “Katie spent her weekends at the retirement home, singing to the seniors and making them laugh.”. The difference between the two sentences is huge. The first one sounds boring and you don’t really know why Katie is nice. While in the second sentence, you get the sense that Katie is nice from her actions without even using the word nice in the sentence!

Make the conflict impossible

Imagine the following scenario, you are a championship boxer who has won many medals over the year and the conflict is…Well, you got a boxing match coming up. Now that doesn’t sound so exciting! In fact, most readers won’t even care about the boxer winning the match or not! 

Now imagine this scenario: You’re a poor kid from New Jersey, you barely have enough money to pay the bills. You never did any professional boxing, but you want to enter a boxing competition, so you can win and use the money to pay your bills. 

The second scenario has a bigger mountain to climb. In other words, a much harder challenge to face compared to the character in the first scenario. Giving your characters an almost impossible task or conflict is essential in good story-telling.

Write powerful scenes

Scenes help build a picture in your reader’s mind without even including any actual pictures in your story. Creating powerful scenes involves more than describing the appearance of a setting, it’s also about thinking about the smell, the sounds and what your characters are feeling while they are in a particular setting. By being descriptive with your scenes, your audience can imagine themselves being right there with characters through the hard times and good times!

There’s nothing worse than an ending which leaves the reader feeling underwhelmed. You read all the way through and then it just ends in the most typical, obvious way ever! Strong endings don’t always end on a happy ending. They can end with a sad ending or a cliff-hanger.  In fact, most stories actually leave the reader with more questions in their head, as they wonder what happens next. This then gives you the opportunity to create even more books to continue the story and keep your readers hooked for life (or at least for a very long time)! 

Over 25 creative writing tips later and you should now be ready to master the art of creative writing! The most important tip for all you creative writers out there is to be imaginative! Without a good imagination, you’ll struggle to wow your audience with your writing skills. Do you have any more creative writing tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Creative writing tips

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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Creative Primer

What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer’s Toolbox

Brooks Manley

As we delve into the world of writing, it becomes apparent that not all writing is the same. One form that stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination is creative writing. This section will explore the question, “ what is creative writing ” and highlight its key characteristics.

Definition of Creative Writing

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as poetry, novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, and more. It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way. It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing one’s creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share one’s perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces. For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , one must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques. The styles we’ll explore in this section are poetry , short stories , novels , screenplays , and plays .

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.

Screenplays

Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing. For those interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you. For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits, including developing creativity and imagination , enhancing communication skills , and exploring emotions and ideas .

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages individuals to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This can lead to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview, both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively.

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as writers often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This can lead to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings, allowing writers to express themselves in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping individuals process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into their own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery, helping writers to understand themselves and the world around them better.

In conclusion, the importance of creative writing extends beyond the realm of literature and academia. It fosters creativity, enhances communication skills, and provides a platform for self-expression and exploration. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start with creative writing .

Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining the main points, characters, settings, and plot. This can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process.

Remember, a plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper. You can always refine and polish your work later.

And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling. You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Reading Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques. Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practicing Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice. Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attending Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like.

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing.

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree . Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

how to help with creative writing

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

Inspiring Ink: Expert Tips on How to Teach Creative Writing

You may also like, how to start and keep a gardening journal: a guide to garden diaries.

Brooks Manley

3 Myths About Creativity

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How to Improve Creative Writing

Last Updated: November 2, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Melessa Sargent and by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden . Melessa Sargent is the President of Scriptwriters Network, a non-profit organization that brings in entertainment professionals to teach the art and business of script writing for TV, features and new media. The Network serves its members by providing educational programming, developing access and opportunity through alliances with industry professionals, and furthering the cause and quality of writing in the entertainment industry. Under Melessa's leadership, SWN has won numbers awards including the Los Angeles Award from 2014 through 2021, and the Innovation & Excellence award in 2020. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 33,413 times.

Creative writing is an outlet to express your imagination by putting it onto paper. Many people enjoy creative writing, but some struggle with it because of how unstructured it can feel. If you have been writing creatively and you’d like to improve your skills, try learning grammar rules and receiving feedback on your work to strengthen your creative writing and boost your confidence.

Creating Polished Work

Step 1 Learn the basic grammar and punctuation rules of your language.

  • Using correct grammar and punctuation will also make your writing seem more polished.

Step 2 Cut down on unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.

  • For example, instead of saying, “He quickly and quietly ate his food,” try saying, “He gulped down his meal.” This sentence is more interesting, and gives the same effect to the reader.

Step 3 Proofread your work carefully.

Tip: Take a break from writing and come back to your piece after a few hours or even days. Mistakes will be easier to spot after you’ve taken a break.

Step 4 Revise your first draft as you need to.

  • Revising is similar to proofreading, except you are looking for ways to improve your piece, not just correcting mistakes.

Step 5 Join a writing group to get constructive criticism.

  • Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t like your piece, or has a lot of feedback to give. You can choose whether or not to implement a change that someone else suggests.

Finding Time and Ideas

Step 1 Block off time to write every day.

Tip: If you think you might forget to write, set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself.

Step 2 Read books that you think you will enjoy.

  • Get a library card so that you can check out books for free instead of buying them every time.

Step 3 Look up writing prompts to give yourself inspiration.

  • For example, you might start with a prompt like, “Imagine what it would be like to be a plant,” or "Write about a day in the life of Barack Obama.”

Step 4 Practice people-watching to observe interactions and get story ideas.

  • You can also use people-watching to practice writing down descriptions of behavior and clothing.

Step 5 Write your own take on an existing story.

  • For instance, try writing a fairytale from another character’s perspective, or setting it in today’s era.

Step 6 Set deadlines for yourself.

  • Deadlines that you set for yourself can seem easy to brush off, but you will be disappointed in yourself if you don’t meet them.
  • Make sure your deadlines are realistic. Don’t plan on finishing an entire book by next week if you’re only halfway through.

Expert Q&A

Melessa Sargent

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  • ↑ https://www.luc.edu/literacy/grammar.shtml
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/group-writing/
  • ↑ Melessa Sargent. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 14 August 2019.
  • ↑ https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1
  • ↑ https://www.uopeople.edu/blog/why-its-important-to-read/
  • ↑ https://cetl.uconn.edu/about/mission/

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Writers' Treasure

Effective writing advice for aspiring writers

How to Get Started in Creative Writing in Just Three Steps

  • Creative Writing Tips

For reference, look at Daily Writing Tips’ awesome article Creative Writing 101 . There are quite a few steps given there. I will be adding my own touches to them.

So, without any further ado, here are the three steps for you to climb and emerge as victor (sorry, couldn’t resist it).

Know the Genres and Subgenres of Creative Writing

It might not seem important now, but if you know the genres and subgenres of creative writing, you’ve done yourself a great service. Why? Because many great authors specialize in one big broad genre such as fiction or poetry or non-fiction. That is why… you see that great novelists write only novels, great short-story writers write only short stories, great poets only write poetry and so on. You don’t want to become “Jack of all trades; master of none.” And you can only specialize by knowing all of them.

Note : Now, of course, there are exceptions. Some novelists do write short stories and vice versa. But these types of authors are not common; they are rare. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t step outside of your broad genre and be afraid to experiment with other ones, it’s just to say that you should, first and foremost, go with the one you like most.

So do yourself a favour and read on the creative writing genres. They’re all known, of course. Fiction is branched into four sub-genres, of which only two are really popular: novels, novelettes, novellas and short-stories.

If you want to dig under the surface, you will find more and more sub-genres. Stories under 1000 words are called micro-fiction. Recently a new type of sub-genre has come into light: Twitter fiction , fiction of 140 characters. The people who make such fiction must be talented, because I can’t seem to close up a story under 1000 words. Concise writing , of course, is the issue.

Then there is poetry . I don’t write any poetry now, because I find it harder than writing fiction and hence I specialized and chose fiction as my broad genre. There are many sub-genres under poetry. Sonnet, haiku, ballad, tanka, pantoum, roundel, etc. My head hurts just looking at so many forms. Wow.

Creative Non-fiction . It’s strange that non-fiction is a part of creative writing, but then, as goes a saying, the truth is sometimes better than fiction. Memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, essays and journals, etc are all part of non-fiction.

Pick Out Your Own Genre

This is sometimes easy work, and sometimes hard work. It took me nearly a year to find out my own genre: writing fiction. Before I was experimenting with all forms without success and in vain (yeah they say the same thing). As soon as I started writing only fiction, my writing improved.

Every writer has his own genre of which he seeks to become the master of. It shouldn’t necessarily be fiction or a popular form. It can be as obscure as can be. Only enjoyment should be gained out of it, at least at the beginning. (You’re free to make money from it if you’re really good enough!)

It might be fun sometimes to step out of your genre and write something fun. I tried this with essays and it was a success. But remember that you should first write inside your genre and then after some time do what you like.

Start Writing (Regularly)

If you don’t know how to write for a period of time, check out the Daily Writing Tips article . Their idea of notebooks and finding ideas works for me.

It doesn’t matter whether you write once a day or a week or a month or anything else. Your writing should not be set on a schedule in which you can’t match your other work. “Write Every Day” is outdated advice now… the newer and better advice is “Write Regularly as much as you can inside your genre.” If you continue the practice… you should start seeing results. Never break off from your work. I tried it one time and the results were not uplifting. It took me a whole month to get back to my earlier standard.

Bottom line is: just write (regularly), and you’re started in creative writing! You can say with pride, “I’m a writer.” Just write. That’s it.

But what’s the purpose?

If your purpose is to get published and make money from your writing straight away, I’m sorry to say that you will be bitterly disappointed. Even the best authors’ first novels were proper garbage (not my words; their words) unless they were edited previously. So you might as well give up creative writing if you only want the money.

But if your purpose is to enjoy your ride and perfect your writing and just be pleased by writing, then you are welcome inside the camp of writers. You’re a writer. So you might just as well do—do what?—write.

Tomorrow we will look into the differences between creative writing and technical writing .

This post is the second instalment in the series “Creative Writing 101.”

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Further reading:.

  • Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Creative Writing

19 thoughts on “How to Get Started in Creative Writing in Just Three Steps”

  • Pingback: Creative Writing vs. Technical Writing | Writers Treasure
  • Pingback: Fiction Writing Elements to Focus On | Writers Treasure
  • Pingback: Creative Non-Fiction: What is it? | Writers Treasure
  • Pingback: Why You Should Write Like You Talk (And How I Defeated Writers’ Block) | Writers' Treasure
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I am trying to become a writer, and I am in the midst of struggling through a bumpy point right now. I am seeking outlets, other kindred spirits to connect with in order to get into focus with my plans. I am online regularly, seeking information and outlets……

when writing express yourself through your thougt, imagination,feeling or emotion. if it is something on history you make some research work. feel free to write without thinking of what people may say it is your work

I love to see my thoughts turn into words. But for some reason I cannot seem to write any story, just general writing I know and understand. I also have a hugh problem with, what is called, grammar!

I just want to write better to be understood. I have my own writing style because of my serious problem with english grammar, so I created my own way of understanding english grammar.

The logic of the words within the sentence, sentence structure and of course editing. How much do you charge for your service? [email protected]

I love to write my thoughts down, I also have a bad time with grammar. How much do you charge? [email protected]

I’m sorry, I don’t see the point of “picking your own genre”. You don’t really give a reason for this point, other than saying: “As soon as I started writing only fiction, my writing improved.” While I don’t doubt that this is true, it is merely your own personal experience. If I enjoy writing several different genres, why shouldn’t I switch between all of them equally? A bit more explanation on this point would be appreciated, thank you.

Well as they said, “Jack of all Trades, master of none”, it is better to find what you work with best rather than play around with all the genres willy nilly, because using the genre you are best with, will allow you to convey what you want to say more easily and your focus will be on being creative rather than actually trying to figure out how to write a short story or a novel, etc. Similar to how an Artist will stick with particular mediums, Watercolour is far different to Oil paints and so the Artist will stay with they are familiar with, the best way to convey what they feel.

The quoted phrase actually originated as “Jack of all trades, master of none; but better than master of one”, the last bit just being dropped for ease and eventually forgotten and misinterpreted.

Hi haven’t you heard they say little knowledge is dangerous. it is true for the point you are trying to make, since it is never easy for anyone to master a number of genres equally, except to master them all equally poorly. the best thing is what’s been said above; pick your genre and be an expert in it and leave the rest to whom who can make the best out of them.

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those worried about grammar , i think if you read and write more often ….you are likely to improve your grammar

writing down raw thoughts,ideas ,emotions does work .you may refine it later ,but the raw idea in itself is half the work.

regular writing helps one to express ideas more clearly i also think what drives you to write determines the quality of work if you are doing it to get published , you put yourself under pressure you will constantly feel inadequate

I like creative writing but I don’t how to start, please I want someone to guide me how to write please thank you

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Eight useful habits to help you write your first book eight useful habits to help you write your first book.

This is a guest article by Richard Nolan. If you are interested in submitting a guest article of your own, be sure to read the  guest article guidelines .

Many people tend to treat creative jobs as pure fun. And everything that a creative person does is always pure fun, and nothing serious, right?

Of course, wrong. Any successful writer will tell you that it is hard work that needs to be taken with all responsibility. So, if you want to keep – for instance – writing pure fun and entertainment, you should only do it for fun. You should keep it your little hobby and not expect it to ever become your full-time job. On the other hand, if you want to be a full-time writer, you must treat it with all seriousness.

Just like any other job, writing suggests a lot of rituals and habits. This is especially so when it comes to writing your first book – a very serious undertaking that cannot be taken lightly. These rituals do not only make your job not only easier but also more exciting and enjoyable. Here are some of them:

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Tips and tricks to add humour to creative write-up Tips and tricks to add humour to creative write-up

This is a guest post by Stewart Agron. If you want to submit a guest post of your own be sure to read the guest post guidelines .

Forming up creative ideas and retaining creativity throughout a write-up is as arduous as trying to figure out how to put a giraffe in a refrigerator . But adding humour to your article, essay or a novel isn’t as difficult as you imagine.

Humour is a part of our life and we tend to use it – intentionally or unintentionally – in our everyday interaction. For instance, we tend to use the popular expression LOL or the iconic smiley when we text our friends or family.

Likewise, we sometimes say or do things that are amusing in their own way, even if the act wasn’t intentional at all. I’ve a habit of turning off my monitor when I leave my seat and turning the display on when I come back. However, sometimes when I forget to switch off the screen and later come back, I press the power button unconsciously even though the display is already on.

The point is that humour is already there and it is already in our life. Hence, anyone can use humour in his writing since having a sense of humour is a bi-directional trait of humans, us – unless you think you are emotionless like Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13 th .

Before I proceed to the main topic of my article, let me outline some of the common techniques of humour which I (daresay) you must understand before using it in your work. (more…)

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Improve your creativity by improving your well-being Improve your creativity by improving your well-being

This is a guest article by Indiana Lee. If you want to submit a guest article of your own, be sure to  read the guest article guidelines.

Global creators are motivated people. They are producing more and more content by the month, by the week, by the day, by the minute, and even by the second. However, this level of productivity and efficiency depends on how they are doing internally. For you as a content creator, it doesn’t matter whether creativity is your livelihood, a passion, or something in the middle. You are bound to experience creative blocks from time to time. Writer’s block happens regardless of your level of skill or commitment to the craft. It is typically fueled by issues with motivation or focus.

Let’s learn how to improve your well-being to reduce the negative impacts on your creative processes.

  • How to maintain your wellbeing as a freelance writer
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14 Creative Writing Exercises to Improve Your Writing

Allison Bressmer

Allison Bressmer

Writing Exercises title

Whether writing is a hobby or a career for you, developing consistent writing habits is key to becoming a better writer.

Blank pages are intimidating. Commit to writing every day to conquer that page and develop your writing skills and style.

By engaging in intentional writing exercises daily, you’ll hone your skills and develop a creative mindset.

These creative writing exercises will get you started immediately!

14 Best Writing Exercises to Try (For Beginners AND Pros)

How do you improve your writing skills, 1. practice freewriting.

To freewrite , set your fingers on your keyboard and start writing; don’t worry about mistakes. Your freewriting is for your eyes only and your goal is simply to get words on the page.

Stuck for a topic? Choose an object you can see—your coffee cup; your sofa; the beat-up (or not) car across the street.

Now, write about the object. You might describe it, tell a story about it, analyze its usefulness—anything is fine. Allow your stream of consciousness to flow and bring ideas to the surface.

The endgame of this writing exercise isn’t to produce great writing about boring objects; it’s to work your writing muscles.

As you search for ways to make these objects interesting, you’ll find unexpected ideas, word choices, and wordplays.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls freewriting exercises “Morning Pages” and advises all writers to practice freewriting every day, first thing in the morning, right after waking up.

2. Use Story Starters

Story starters or writing prompts are creative writing exercises that can help you escape a creative rut.

A writing prompt can be anything—a single sentence, a short paragraph, a word. You could even use the first line of a favorite book or newspaper article and take the story in a new direction.

Try building a story from one of these prompts:

  • I opened the window.
  • We disagreed.
  • “It was a pleasure to burn.” (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 )

There are many places to find story starters and writing prompts online, such as Daily Prompt .

Story starter examples

3. Write a “Dear Younger Me” Letter

What would you like to say to yourself five, ten, 20, or 50 years ago? Go ahead and write a letter to that younger self!

Maybe you’ll offer advice or reassurance, relive a special moment with them, or tell them how you’ve changed, or haven’t, since you were “their” age.

Another option: imagine what someone else in your life would say to you at a particular time and write from that person’s perspective.

This activity is a great creative writing exercise and a way to tap into your emotions.

write a letter to your younger self

4. Do a Point of View (POV) Switch

Take a segment from a favorite book. Rewrite that segment from a different character’s point of view.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is written in third-person limited POV. A third-person narrator tells the story, but focuses on Harry’s thoughts and feelings.

In your rewrite, focus on Hermione’s POV. What does she see that Harry doesn’t? What is she feeling and thinking?

As you write, notice how the story changes. Chances are, it will take on a distinct form and tone and may inspire an idea for a new story of your own.

Or rewrite the segment from an entirely different point of view. If the original is told from first-person POV, recreate it with a third-person narrator.

Note what other changes you’ll have to make because of that switch.

Should you include more or less sensory detail ? Should you adjust what’s revealed about each character thinks or feels?

This writing exercise can help you determine what POV you like writing in best and demonstrate how a single story can be told in several ways.

5. Put Yourself in the Middle of the Action

Put yourse;f in the middle of the action

Take a story that resonates with you.

Rewrite the story as if you’re the main character.

Now that you’ve got eyes “inside” the story, can you expand on the details to make a situation more intense or to convey your feelings more fully? Can you think of ways to make the story more engaging?

As you generate ideas you’ll likely find a creative direction for a new story.

6. Eliminate Empty Words

Sentences contain working words and glue words. Working words tell your reader key information, convey emotions, and provide meaning. Glue words hold the working words together.

Streamline your phrasing to only use necessary glue words. Unnecessary glue words are empty words that clutter your sentences and slow your writing down.

There are, there is, there are, in, on, of, this, just are common glue words that can become empty.

In this sentence, “There are two birds sitting on the roof,” the only purpose of the words “there are” is to make the sentence complete. A better strategy is to use a stronger, more specific verb. For example, “Two birds perch on the roof” or “Two birds idle on the roof.”

ProWritingAid’s Sticky Sentences Report highlights sentences with too many glue words. With rephrasing and editing, you can streamline those sentences and keep your work moving fluently.

ProWritingAid's Sticky Sentence Check

To practice, review a scene in your manuscript and restructure sentences to eliminate glue words.

Replace weak verbs with stronger ones and be economical with your word count. Don’t be afraid to cut; you can always go back and add details as needed.

You’ll find yourself choosing more precise words and constructing leaner, clearer sentences.

7. Outline Dialogue-Heavy Scenes

To create a natural back-and-forth exchange between characters, outline the dialogue in dialogue-heavy scenes first.

Don’t worry about writing descriptions, dialogue tags , or body language cues. Just write the basic dialogue.

Then, go back and evaluate what you need to add to express the characters’ tone, feelings, and personality more fully.

Outline dialogue heavy scenes

Tip: only use dialogue tags when the speaker’s identity isn’t clear. When they’re needed, it’s best to stick with said and asked . If the exchange needs intensity, add action beats—a telling glance or gesture to heighten the moment.

8. Replace Adjectives with Descriptions

Adjectives are powerful. However, they only tell what’s happening; they don’t give the reader an experience. In this sentence, the adjective tells us Peter’s feelings:

  • Watching the movie, Peter was scared!

Replacing this with a description allows the reader to experience fear along with Peter:

  • When the headless bleeding corpse slithered out from the box in the attic, Peter screamed and ducked behind the sofa!

Now you try.

Review your draft. Look for adjectives you can replace with descriptions.

Use sensory words so your reader can experience the smells, touches, sights, sounds, or tastes you describe.

ProWritingAid’s Sensory Report helps you balance sensory details by analyzing the emphasis you put on each sense. For example, in this sample, my writing has a heavy sight-emphasis.

ProWritingAid's Sensory Report

The report measures 67% of the sensory words as appealing to sight, letting me know I might want to make adjustments and create a more balanced experience.

9. Blog Every Day

Blogging every day encourages regular writing habits and is great practice for any writer.

You can consult online resources for tips on how to find a blog topic or niche.

Why you should blog every day

For example, you might decide to focus on food, on being a teacher, on being a millennial, on parenting, or on being a millennial who is a teacher and a parent!

Focus on a different aspect of that topic each day—even if you simply write a “Day in the Life of a _ _ _ _ _” series.

This limited focus provides a framework, but leaves plenty of room for creativity. Explore within that framework as you develop your voice and style.

For an extra challenge, limit the number of words you write. On slower days, the number will serve as a target. On days when ideas flow, it will help you ensure that each word matters.

10. Write a 500-Word Story

The definition of flash fiction

In the writing world, a 500-word story is an example of “ flash fiction. ”

Flash fiction includes all the elements of plot, conflict, and character development, but since it’s so short, every word counts.

Want to try? Write a fully formed story that includes these three words: rose, glass, forbid . Add no more than 497 additional words of your choice!

This exercise will help you focus on story structure, word choice, and powerful imagery.

11. Set a Captivating Mood

Readers should be intrigued by the story and drawn into the setting so they can feel for and with your characters. To make that happen, create a mood.

In Creating Short Fiction , Damon Knight suggests imagining you’re a character in a room. Describe what’s happening in that room and how the character sees, experiences, and responds to those surroundings.

Put the exercise into practice. Imagine an enemy from your past just called you, saying, “I’m outside your door.”

Now describe the space around you. Do everyday objects become potential weapons? Is the air heavy with dread or charged with fear or filled with fury?

12. Be Observant

Pay close attention to your own reality and the emotions you experience in response.

Let’s imagine you’re sitting on a beach. Engage your senses and observe your emotions.

What do you see, hear, taste, smell? What does it feel like to sit in the sun and sand?

Are you feeling excited? Tranquil? Contemplative? What’s triggering that emotion?

Perhaps the roaring waves make you feel small and insignificant—or invigorated! Maybe the ocean is quiet, and the small waves’ gentle rhythm soothes you,

Capture those details and feelings in a journal (or on your phone!). Later, write a scene based in that setting, using those captured details to create sensations and evoke emotions.

13. Practice Empathy

Being sensitive to the feelings of others and seeing the world through their eyes will help you create well-developed characters .

Imagine a mother struggling with a stroller and shopping bags on the bus. Her kids are loud, they press the stop button repeatedly, and she has to take a phone call. Passengers are obviously annoyed.

Write the scene from the mother’s perspective, considering her feelings and frustration. Does she notice the passengers’ anger? Who is calling her? Where is she trying to go?

This exercise also works when you make it personal, though it may be emotionally challenging.

Rewrite a part of your life from the perspective of someone you hold negative feelings about—an ex, an enemy, a boss. Consider their feelings and tell “their side.”

Why you should practice empathy

14. Group Writing Exercises

Groups can trigger creative writing ideas.

Give each member time to write one or two themes (one sentence each) for a holiday story.

Shuffle those submissions and redistribute them randomly.

For online groups, post the themes in chat and have everyone use the entry following their own.

Set a timer for ten minutes, during which each writer creates a story fitting their assigned theme.

Then, share your stories! Keep the exercise going with a story swap. Have a new author continue each narrative.

Writing prompts rouelette

Stephen King once observed:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Reading and observing the work of other writers is essential to developing your skills, but isn’t enough on its own.

You must give your writing skills a workout—and these 14 creative writing exercises provide the perfect starting point.

You don’t have to work alone! Professional bloggers, novelists, copywriters, and other writers use ProWritingAid to receive personalized feedback on their work.

It’s a one-stop tool to help you evaluate, edit, and improve your writing. Try it out today.

Do you want to know how to build a world your readers won’t forget? Download this free book now:

World-Building 101: How to construct an unforgettable world for your fantasy or sci-Fi story!

World-Building 101: How to Construct an Unforgettable World for Your Fantasy or Sci-Fi Story!

This guide is for all the writers out there who want to construct an unforgettable world that your readers can’t help but get lost in, learn how to invent species, gods, monsters and more in our immersive guide..

how to help with creative writing

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Allison Bressmer is a professor of freshman composition and critical reading at a community college and a freelance writer. If she isn’t writing or teaching, you’ll likely find her reading a book or listening to a podcast while happily sipping a semi-sweet iced tea or happy-houring with friends. She lives in New York with her family. Connect at linkedin.com/in/allisonbressmer.

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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

how to help with creative writing

It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

how to help with creative writing

  • MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .  

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Education Articles & More

How creative writing can increase students’ resilience, students can find strength and community in sharing their stories through writing..

Many of my seventh-grade students do not arrive at school ready to learn. Their families often face financial hardship and live in cramped quarters, which makes it difficult to focus on homework. The responsibility for cooking and taking care of younger siblings while parents work often falls on these twelve year olds’ small shoulders. Domestic violence and abuse are also not uncommon.

To help traumatized students overcome their personal and academic challenges, one of our first jobs as teachers is to build a sense of community. We need to communicate that we care and that we welcome them into the classroom just as they are. One of the best ways I’ve found to connect with my students, while also nurturing their reading and writing skills, is through creative writing.

For the past three years, I’ve invited students in my English Language Development (ELD) classes to observe their thoughts, sit with their emotions, and offer themselves and each other compassion through writing and sharing about their struggles. Creating a safe, respectful environment in which students’ stories matter invites the disengaged, the hopeless, and the numb to open up. Students realize that nobody is perfect and nobody’s life is perfect. In this kind of classroom community, they can take the necessary risks in order to learn, and they become more resilient when they stumble.

Fostering a growth mindset

how to help with creative writing

One of the ways students can boost their academic performance and develop resilience is by building a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, Stanford University professor of psychology and author of the book Mindset , explains that people with a growth mindset focus on learning from mistakes and welcoming challenges rather than thinking they’re doomed to be dumb or unskillful. A growth mindset goes hand in hand with self-compassion: recognizing that everyone struggles and treating ourselves with kindness when we trip up.

One exercise I find very useful is to have students write a story about a time when they persevered when faced with a challenge—in class, sports, or a relationship. Some of the themes students explore include finally solving math problems, learning how to defend themselves, or having difficult conversations with parents.

I primed the pump by telling my students about something I struggled with—feeling left behind in staff meetings as my colleagues clicked their way through various computer applications. I confided that PowerPoint and Google Slides—tools (one might assume) that any teacher worth a paperweight has mastered—still eluded me. By admitting my deficiency to my students, asking for their help, and choosing to see the opportunity to remedy it every day in the classroom, I aimed to level the playing field with them. They may have been reading three or four grade levels behind, but they could slap a PowerPoint presentation together in their sleep.

For students, sharing their own stories of bravery, resilience, and determination brings these qualities to the forefront of their minds and helps solidify the belief that underlies a growth mindset: I can improve and grow . We know from research in neuroplasticity that when students take baby steps to achieve a goal and take pride in their accomplishments, they change their brains, growing new neural networks and fortifying existing ones. Neurons in the brain release the feel-good chemical dopamine, which plays a major role in motivating behavior toward rewards.

After writing about a few different personal topics, students choose one they want to publish on the bulletin boards at the back of the classroom. They learn to include the juicy details of their stories (who, what, when, where, why, and how), and they get help from their peers, who ask follow-up questions to prompt them to include more information. This peer editing builds their resilience in more ways than one—they make connections with each other by learning about each other’s lives, and they feel empowered by lending a hand.

In my experience, students are motivated to do this assignment because it helps them feel that their personal stories and emotions truly matter, despite how their other academics are going. One student named Alejandro chose to reflect on basketball and the persistence and time it took him to learn:

Hoops By Alejandro Gonzalez Being good takes time. One time my sister took me to a park and I saw people playing basketball. I noticed how good they were and decided I wanted to be like them. Still I told my sister that basketball looked hard and that I thought I couldn’t do it. She said,“You could do it if you tried. You’ll get the hang of it.” My dad bought me a backboard and hoop to play with. I was really happy, but the ball wasn’t making it in. Every time I got home from school, I would go straight to the backyard to play. I did that almost every day until little by little I was getting the hang of it. I also played with my friends. Every day after lunch we would meet at the basketball court to have a game. … I learned that you need to be patient and to practice a lot to get the hang of things. With a little bit of practice, patience, and hard work, anything is possible.

Originally, Alejandro wasn’t sure why he was in school and often lacked the motivation to learn. But writing about something he was passionate about and recalling the steps that led to his success reminded him of the determination and perseverance he had demonstrated in the past, nurturing a positive view of himself. It gave him a renewed sense of investment in learning English and eventually helped him succeed in his ELD class, as well.

Maintaining a hopeful outlook

Another way to build resilience in the face of external challenges is to shore up our inner reserves of hope —and I’ve found that poetry can serve as inspiration for this.

For the writing portion of the lesson, I invite students to “get inside” poems by replicating the underlying structure and trying their hand at writing their own verses. I create poem templates, where students fill in relevant blanks with their own ideas. 

One poem I like to share is “So Much Happiness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. Its lines “Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house / and now live over a quarry of noise and dust / cannot make you unhappy” remind us that, despite the unpleasant events that occur in our lives, it’s our choice whether to allow them to interfere with our happiness. The speaker, who “love[s] even the floor which needs to be swept, the soiled linens, and scratched records,” has a persistently sunny outlook.

It’s unrealistic for students who hear gunshots at night to be bubbling over with happiness the next morning. Still, the routine of the school day and the sense of community—jokes with friends, a shared bag of hot chips for breakfast, and a creative outlet—do bolster these kids. They have an unmistakable drive to keep going, a life force that may even burn brighter because they take nothing for granted—not even the breath in their bodies, life itself. 

Itzayana was one of those students who, due to the adversity in her life, seemed too old for her years. She rarely smiled and started the school year with a defiant approach to me and school in general, cursing frequently in the classroom. Itzayana’s version of “So Much Happiness” hinted at some of the challenges I had suspected she had in her home life:

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. Even the fact that you once heard your family laughing and now hear them yelling at each other cannot make you unhappy. Everything has a life of its own, it too could wake up filled with possibilities of tamales and horchata and love even scrubbing the floor, washing dishes, and cleaning your room. Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness, help people in need, help your family, and take care of yourself.   —Itzayana C.

Her ending lines, “Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness, / help people in need, help your family, and take care of yourself,” showed her growing awareness of the need for self-care as she continued to support her family and others around her. This is a clear sign of her developing resilience.

Poetry is packed with emotion, and writing their own poems allows students to grapple with their own often-turbulent inner lives. One student commented on the process, saying, “By writing poems, I’ve learned to be calm and patient, especially when I get mad about something dumb.” Another student showed pride in having her writing published; she reflected, “I feel good because other kids can use it for calming down when they’re angry.”

To ease students into the creative process, sometimes we also write poems together as a class. We brainstorm lines to include, inviting the silly as well as the poignant and creating something that represents our community.

Practicing kindness

Besides offering my students new ways of thinking about themselves, I also invite them to take kind actions toward themselves and others.

In the music video for “Give a Little Love” by Noah and the Whale, one young African American boy—who witnesses bullying at school and neglect in his neighborhood —decides to take positive action and whitewash a wall of graffiti. Throughout the video, people witness others’ random acts of kindness, and then go on to do their own bit.

“My love is my whole being / And I’ve shared what I could,” the lyrics say—a reminder that our actions speak louder than our words and do have an incredible impact. The final refrain in the song—“Well if you are (what you love) / And you do (what you love) /...What you share with the world is what it keeps of you”—urges the students to contribute in a positive way to the classroom, the school campus, and their larger community.

After watching the video, I ask students to reflect upon what kind of community they would like to be part of and what makes them feel safe at school. They write their answers—for example, not being laughed at by their peers and being listened to—on Post-it notes. These notes are used to create classroom rules. This activity sends a message early on that we are co-creating our communal experience together. Students also write their own versions of the lyrics, reflecting on different things you can give and receive—like kindness, peace, love, and ice cream.

Reaping the benefits

To see how creative writing impacts students, I invite them to rate their resilience through a self-compassion survey at the start of the school year and again in the spring. Last year, two-thirds of students surveyed increased in self-compassion; Alejandro grew his self-compassion by 20 percent. The program seems to work at developing their reading and writing skills, as well: At the middle of the school year, 40 percent of my students moved up to the next level of ELD, compared to 20 percent the previous year. 

As a teacher, my goal is to meet students where they’re at and learn about their whole lives. Through creative writing activities, we create a community of compassionate and expressive learners who bear witness to the impact of trauma in each others’ experiences and together build resilience.

As a symbol of community and strength, I had a poster in my classroom of a boat at sea with hundreds of refugees standing shoulder to shoulder looking skyward. It’s a hauntingly beautiful image of our ability to risk it all for a better life, as many of my ELD students do. Recognizing our common humanity and being able to share about our struggles not only leads to some beautiful writing, but also some brave hearts.

About the Author

Laura Bean, M.F.A. , executive director of Mindful Literacy, consults with school communities to implement mindfulness and creative writing programs. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and presented a mindful writing workshop at Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego in 2016.

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Ultimate Guide to Creative Writing Therapy (with Writing Therapy Prompts)

March 22, 2023

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I believe that taking care of yourself should always come first. So, my job is to help you create a slow and mindful life that aligns with your values and goals so you can finally go from a state of constantly doing to peacefully being.

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writing therapy

Creative writing therapy, or therapeutic writing is a form of therapeutic intervention that uses writing as the tool to explore and express your thoughts, feelings and emotions. It’s also known as journal therapy – and it’s essentially the art of writing in a journal to heal yourself. 

Writing therapy can be a useful tool for people who struggle with mental health, have experienced trauma or grief, or are simply looking for a creative outlet to process their thoughts and feelings. Today we’re going to explore what creative writing therapy is, how it works, and the potential benefits of writing therapy. We’ll also share writing therapy prompts to help you get started and explore writing therapy today. 

Please keep in mind that there is no true substitute for seeing a licensed therapist, and if you feel like you could benefit from talking to someone and getting help with what you’re going through – you’re not alone! There are tons of incredible therapists out there to help you. Here at Made with Lemons we’re big advocates for therapy and if you’d like a more inside scoop to our own journey with therapy, join On Your Terms . It’s a wellness newsletter that shares a more inside look to our own wellness journey as well as tools to help you along yours. Learn more about On Your Terms here.

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What is Creative Writing Therapy?

Writing therapy, also known as therapeutic writing, is a form of creative and expressive therapy that involves writing about your personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. It can take many forms, including journaling, poetry, creative writing, letter writing, or memoirs. Writing therapy can be done individually or in a group setting. It can also be facilitated by a therapist, counselor or writing coach.

The purpose of creative writing therapy is to help you express and process your emotions in a safe and supportive environment. It’s helpful to be able to write out your thoughts and feelings that might be hard to articulate in other ways. 

You might also see therapeutic writing used to help explore issues that are difficult to discuss in traditionally talking therapy sessions. And when your therapist invites you to try writing therapy, it’s also used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as trauma-focused therapy, to enhance its effectiveness. 

An example of creative writing therapy could be writing a letter to a person who hurt you, and then shredding or burning the letter to release some of the hurt and anger. 

How Does Therapeutic Writing Work?

Writing therapy works by allowing individuals to express their thoughts and feelings in a way that is both private and creative. The act of writing can help you organize your thoughts and gain clarity on your emotions. Writing can also be a way to release pent-up emotions and relieve stress. 

For example, if you’re feeling stressed after a long day of work, taking a few moments to write down what’s stressing you out and allowing yourself to let it go, can help you have a calm and more relaxing evening. 

Writing therapy should be a truly non judgemental space. It’s a time to write without worrying about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. The goal here is to let words flow freely, without judgment or criticism. Creative writing therapy sessions can be structured or unstructured, and sometimes it’s helpful to use prompts or exercises to help you get started. (i.e. what in your life is bringing you the most anxiety, or writing a letter to your friend to express ___________ hurt you when they said that.)

Oftentimes we find it easier to write about our hurt, our pain and the experiences that caused that, as opposed to opening up to talk about those things. In this way, writing can be a way to explore and process complex emotions such as grief or anger in a safe and supportive environment, where no one can get hurt further by what’s being felt and expressed. 

Potential Benefits of Writing Therapy

Now let’s talk about some of the benefits of therapeutic writing. 

Improved mental health

Writing therapy can be a tool that helps you manage symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. You can use journaling therapy to express and process difficult emotions, which over time can lead to improved mental regulation and a better sense of control over your thoughts and feelings. 

Increased self-awareness

Creative writing therapy can help you gain a better insight into your thoughts and behaviors. By reflecting on your experiences through writing, you can start to identify patterns and gain an understanding of yourself. 

Stress relief

Therapeutic writing can be a way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Writing is often cathartic, allowing you to release pent-up emotions and start to feel relief from things that would otherwise feel overwhelming. 

Improved communication skills

Journal therapy can also help you improve your overall communication skills. When you practice expressing yourself through writing, you can develop more confidence to communicate more effectively in both your personal and professional relationships. In essence, writing your feelings can help you communicate them better when needed. 

Increased creativity

Lastly, creative writing therapy can also be a way to tap into your creativity and imagination. We talk a lot about your inner child around here, and journal therapy can be another helpful way you can interact with your inner child. Through writing you can explore new ideas and perspectives, leading to your own personal growth.

How to try Creative Writing Therapy Today

Now let’s talk about how you can try therapeutic writing for yourself today. These tips are going to help you get started with writing therapy from home, as a personal activity to help heal yourself. 

Set aside dedicated time for writing therapy

Like most self improvement and self care techniques, it helps to set aside a dedicated time to write regularly. We know this can be a challenging task, especially if you’re struggling with mental health issues or challenges in your life. A good place to start is to set aside a few minutes each evening to write and decompress from your day. It can be just 2 minutes before bed. Remember, therapeutic writing is a non judgemental activity, so the amount of time you dedicate isn’t important, it’s just important to show up for yourself. 

Find a quiet and comfortable space

Find a place that’s quiet and comfortable, and where you can write without interruptions. Some people find it helpful to create a writing ritual, such as lighting a candle or playing soft music to create a sense of calm and focus. Find what works for you, in a space where you can be alone for a few minutes. 

Choose a writing therapy prompt or topic

At the end of this guide we’re going to share writing therapy prompts to help you explore creative writing therapy and give you a starting point. You can also talk to your therapist to get prompts, or find some online. Prompts can be general, such as “write about what makes  you grateful or happy”, while others can be more specific, such as “write about a time that you felt overwhelmed.”

Write freely and without judgment

The most important thing about writing therapy is to write freely, without judging yourself. Allow yourself to write without worrying about grammar, punctuation or spelling. Don’t put a time limit on your writing, or feel like you have to write a certain number of words or pages. The goal here is to allow your thoughts and emotions to flow freely without any judgment at all. 

Write honestly and openly

Along with being judgment free, it’s also so important that you write honestly and openly. Writing therapy is a space for honesty and openness. This space is created for you to share your thoughts and emotions, even if they're difficult or uncomfortable to confront. Just be open to exploring them, and remember that you don’t have to share this with anyone, so it’s a space where you can be fully honest with yourself. 

Reflect on your writing

After writing, you can take a few moments to reflect on what you have written. It might even be helpful to come back to what you have written at another time, when you have a clear head or have left the emotions behind. This can help you consider the emotions and patterns that you have expressed. Doing this reflection can help you gain more insight into your thinking patterns and emotions for future sessions. 

Consider sharing your writing with a therapist or counselor

Lastly, consider sharing your writing with a therapist or counselor. They can help you process emotions and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. Sharing your writing can also help you feel less alone in your struggles and provide important validation for your experiences. 

20 Writing Therapy Prompts

  • When do I feel the most like myself?
  • How do I feel at this moment?
  • What do I need more of in my life?
  • What do I look forward to every day?
  • What is a lesson that I had to learn recently?
  • Based on my daily routine, where do I see myself in 5 years?
  • What don’t I regret?
  • What would make me happy right now?
  • What has been the hardest thing to forgive myself for?
  • What’s bothering me? And why?
  • What do I love about myself?
  • What are my priorities right now?
  • What does my ideal day look like?
  • What does my ideal morning look like? Evening?
  • Make a list of 30 things that make you smile
  • Make a gratitude list
  • The words I’d like to live by are…
  • I really wish others knew this about me…
  • What always brings tears to my eyes?
  • What do I need to get off my chest today?

Creative writing therapy can be a powerful tool for exploring and processing thoughts and emotions. When you set aside a dedicated time to write, and create a safe and supportive space for yourself, you can gain insight into your emotions and develop better tools to manage them. With practice and commitment, writing therapy can become a habit for your self care routine. 

If you’d like to build the habit of writing therapy in your own life, then we’d like to invite you to download our habit tracker. It’s super easy to use, beautifully designed and completely free. All you need is a google account to access it. Grab a copy of our habit tracker here.

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Bell Ringers

Short story mentor texts to teach narrative writing elements.

Raise your hand if teaching narrative writing has you feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I’ve been there. Every writing unit seems to bring its own challenges and narrative writing has a few unique ones. Unlike other types of writing, narrative writing is more flexible and involves more creativity. But that doesn’t mean it’s without “rules”! Getting students to master the narrative writing elements is what will take their stories to the next level.

how to help with creative writing

Tips for Teaching Narrative Writing

I spoke about this on another blog about using mentor texts novels, but I am a big fan of using mentor texts to teach narrative writing. Mentor texts allow you to model the skills and narrative writing elements for students, so they aren’t trying to guess at exactly how their writing should look and sound.

Using mentor texts can be as simple as giving students a sentence or excerpt from a text and talking through how it’s a great example of a specific skill. A lot of times, I will pull these mentor texts from novels that the class is reading because students already understand the story.

However, I know there isn’t always time to squeeze in a novel. When you’re in a bind or short on time, using a narrative short story as a mentor text will accomplish the same task as the novel! I recommend reading this short story before or during your writing unit.

Teaching Narrative Writing Elements with Short Stories

Just like you ease students into a narrative writing unit, I don’t want to throw you into the deep end with mentor texts either. I want to walk you through what it looks like to use short stories to teach the narrative writing elements. I’ll give you a few mentor text examples below and show you how I’d use them in the classroom.

how to help with creative writing

Develop a Point of View

A lot of times, the conversation about point of view is simply, what is the point of view? First-person or third-person? But it goes deeper than that. Developing a point of view means giving the reader intimate knowledge of the character’s experience. It can allow the reader to experience the same sadness or anger that the character feels.

For this narrative writing element, dig deep into the short story you’ve chosen. Find an example from the text where the point of view allows the reader a peek into a character’s mind or feelings.

I like this example from “The Scholarship Jacket”: “I was almost back at my classroom door when I heard voices raised in anger as if in some sort of argument. I stopped. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, I just hesitated, not knowing what to do. I needed those shorts and I was going to be late, but I didn’t want to interrupt an argument between my teachers.”

After looking at your mentor text example, dig into what the reader experiences here. Look at what knowledge the reader gains about the character. For example, this mentor text from “The Scholarship Jacket” is a feeling people can relate to. Overhearing an argument and wondering if you pretend you didn’t hear – or you acknowledge that you overhead.

Establish Context

Another narrative writing element is establishing context for the story. Context means putting the topic into perspective for someone who knows nothing about the story. It also means providing the background information that is needed to grasp the story.

When looking through your short story, identify an excerpt where the reader gains necessary information about a character, setting, or event. This is the kind of information that if removed the story could change how the reader understands it.

Here’s an example from “Masque of Red Death”: “But Prospero, the ruler of that land, was happy and strong and wise. When half the people of his land had died, he called to him a thousand healthy, happy friends, and with them went far away to live in one of his palaces. This was a large and beautiful stone building he had planned himself. A strong, high wall circled it.”

This narrative short story excerpt gives the reader key information. It lets us know who the character Prospero is and why he is bringing people to his palace. This sets the stage for later plot points. After reading your chosen excerpt with students, ask them: What key information did this text provide? How does it help you better understand the story?

how to help with creative writing

Develop Character Motives

Character motives can be really fun to uncover. With character motives, the reader understands the reason behind the character’s actions.

To find an excerpt for this narrative writing element, think about a pivotal moment in the story. Then, think about the actions and motivations that led to that moment. Try to locate a sentence or passage that showcases those motives.

This is a great example of character motives from “Story of an Hour”: “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.”

In this short story, the character is expected to mourn for her dead husband. Instead, she finds joy in it (which is later shown through her whispering, “Free!”) This gives us a glimpse at her motives. When examining a text for character motives, ask students: What action does the character engage in later? What is their reason for that action?

If you want students to be stronger writers, they need to see examples of what good writing looks like. That’s the power of using mentor texts when teaching narrative writing. They’ll know what context looks like or motives sound like, and they can emulate it in their own writing!

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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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Discover the Top 10 Low Calorie Snacks of 2024: A Hit Among 20,000 Dieters

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The Criteria for Selection

Nutritional value, calorie count, dieter satisfaction, the top 10 low calorie snacks of 2024, 1. almonds (raw or dry roasted), 2. greek yogurt with berries, 3. hummus and vegetable sticks, 4. air-popped popcorn, 5. boiled eggs, 6. cottage cheese and pineapple, 7. apple slices with peanut butter, 8. kale chips, 10. dark chocolate and almonds, health benefits of low calorie snacking, weight management, improved nutrient intake, energy sustainment, prevention of overeating, enhanced metabolic health,  how to incorporate these snacks into your diet, plan your snacks, portion control, balance your snacks, incorporate variety, listen to your hunger cues, prepare in advance.

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Dieter Testimonials and Success Stories

Emily’s journey to mindful eating, mark’s weight loss achievement, linda’s path to better health, the collective voice of 20,000 dieters,  common questions about low calorie snacks, 1.what defines a “low calorie” snack, 2.can low calorie snacks actually satisfy hunger, 3.are all low calorie snacks healthy, 4.how often should i eat low calorie snacks, 5.can low calorie snacks help with weight loss, 6.what are some examples of low calorie snacks, 7.how can i make my own low calorie snacks at home, 8.where can i find low calorie snacks.

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