Writing exercises to get your creative juices flowing

Many of us want to write but find the challenge of starting a short story or novel daunting. It might be because of fear or a lack of ideas. However, you don’t have to start with a whole chunk of writing. Instead you can start with some smaller exercises which will help you develop some ideas and make you play with words, rather than be scared by them.

Collect Words

As a writer, your most basic and vital tool is words. Collecting words or phrases you like is a good idea because then you’ll have tools at hand when you sit down to write. When you hear or read a word you like, write it down in a notebook and maybe also include its definition. They might be unusual words or words that work well for certain topics or genres.

You could also make and keep word clouds where you pick a topic, for example “hair”, and write down every word and phrase connected with it, such as “frizzy”, “cascading off her shoulders”, “spiky” and so forth. This should jump-start your imagination and help you describe things. Keep these word clouds in your notebook for when you can’t think of an adjective.

Bite off Small Chunks

You don’t have to jump right in and write a whole story from start to finish. In fact, it can better to master different aspects of a story instead of writing a big load of drivel.

You could practice writing different parts of a story such as the first paragraph/page/chapter, prologue, character descriptions, dialogue and action scenes. Pick a part, e.g. the first paragraph and set yourself the task of writing four (or however many you want) different ones. If you really like one that you’ve written, you could use it as a basis for a complete story.

A good idea here is to study what other authors have done. Collect great dialogue, character descriptions, first sentences etc. and keep them in your notebook. Try to identify for yourself why you like what they have written.

Genre/ Theme Play

One of the problems as a writer, is that we don’t know what genre or theme we would like to use or are good at. I use the word “theme” because “genre” is limiting.

So here’s an idea: take a couple of characters and a setting and use them to write short pieces in a variety of genres or themes. Another idea would be to pick five different genres or themes, consider their characteristics and write a short piece in each genre.

When doing these exercises, it’s easier to work with experiences you’ve actually had and it will make your writing more convincing to the reader. Of course, if your genre is fantasy, this might not apply to you. Once you know what you enjoy writing about, you can work from there to write a complete story.

So, grab your favourite chair and get writing. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you produce when you approach it from a different angle.

(This a post by our new intern Talia Mitrani)

(Image by typofi, stock.xchng)


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