Writing Exercises

In order to stay sharp in your writing, you must practice your skills! Below are some writing exercises that you can do at any time to keep your writing up to par. You can also use these exercises to help you get motivated to work on your written masterpiece if you’re having trouble getting started.

Problem Plots

Think of problems, real or imaginative, and then think of how that problem could get worse. After you’ve created the problem, then brainstorm ways on how to fix the problem. what would work, what wouldn’t, and why?

Character Profiles

Sometimes, starting with a new character is a great way to jump into a new project! Use the downloadable character profile sheet to create a character. Then, once you know this new person inside and out, imagine them in different situations and see where it leads you.

Short Stories

A short story can be as short or long as you want it…as long as its shorter than 7500 words.

You can use my list of writing prompts to start a short story, or you can use a theme and just continuously build onto it. For example, if your theme is “The Weirdest Day Ever” then you can think of all the things that would seem weird if they happened during a normal day. Each weird part of the day can be a separate short story, even.

Start somewhere and see where it goes!

Explore Your Mind

Dreams and memories are great writing material!

Dreams are unique and usually have a secret meaning to them that you can find by exploring the dream in extreme detail when you’re writing it out. Dream Psychology is fun to learn about and you can incorporate that into your written material. Remember to show, not tell.

Memories you have from your childhood are locked away in your mind. Focus on them and make people feel like they were there with you while they’re reading about them. Bring us back to your favorite memories of you and your Dad or take us back to your first dance at school. Each memory you have is another story you can tell. 

Rewrite the News

Pull up any news outlet and pick one story. Study that story. Read all the different versions of that story. Now rewrite it. How would you explain the event? If you were involved in the event, how would things have been different? What would it be like if this even happened in a different time period? Get all the facts, then get creative.


Write a short story using only dialogue. Pick a topic for people to talk about and put them in a specific setting, then just focus on the conversation. How many people are there? Does everyone agree on the topic at hand? Can everyone talk using words? Is someone in the group setting the tone for the conversation? Are there any words at all during this conversation, or are you a third party just observing the body language of others? Let’s talk about it.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words…

…but that doesn’t mean words aren’t necessary to explain the picture. 

Choose a photo. List all of the sensory words you can think of to describe the photo. Then show your readers what the photo looks like without them ever having to see it for themselves.

New Genre, Who Dis?

Technically, there are 6 different genres of writing: descriptive, expository, persuasive, narrative, technical and poetic. The more common genre names we’re used to are fiction and nonfiction. However, that list can be broken down even more to categories such as memoirs, biographies, horror, and romance. It’s always good to try writing in all different genres to see what your strongest writing style is. You can do this as a writing exercise, too. If you usually write sci-fi, try writing poetry. If you usually write romance novels, try writing a screenplay. Mix it up and see what happens. Who knows, you might find that you have a hidden talent for Haikus that you never knew about.

Walk in their Shoes

You can take the same scene, scenario or event and tell it completely different from someone else’s viewpoint. Two people, just like two characters, can see the world with great differences and have it effect the way you tell different versions of the same story. Try writing journal entries or a personal letter from the viewpoint of a character you created. How do their viewpoints differ from yours? Write an inner monologue from a character that is drastically different than yourself. Write a speech for a character who won the Nobel prize, or a talk-show interview from a character who just became famous. How about a classroom discussion from the viewpoint of the teacher? Or a power point presentation from the worn-out employee? Or even a ghost story written by the deceased?

There are so many people in this world and there are so many more characters to be created, which means there are so many other shoes to be walked in and wrote about.

Dawn Zauner – Writing Expert
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