If you’re in a rut, or in the middle of a block, there’s nothing like a bite-size project to give you a jolt of creative energy. You’ve got to stretch before you go on a run, right? Well, here’s the creative writing equivalent of stretching: tiny writing exercises that will get your juices flowing and put you in the mood to make great things.
Create a Conflict
Have you ever read a book that doesn’t begin until you’re a few pages in? Whatever the reason, it’s sometimes difficult for writers to get a reader’s attention straight away. This exercise focuses on that issue. Write one or two sentences that begin a story. With these sentences, immediately establish a character, and some sort of stakes or conflict.
Transform a Story
Take your favorite novel or short story, and turn it into a screenplay. Or a poem. Or a videogame! Well, maybe not a videogame — those take hours — but modifying a story so that it fits a different medium is an excellent workout for your imagination.
Update a Classic Story
Take a famous children’s tale and write it as if it were set in the modern world. Would Hansel and Gretel need to leave breadcrumbs if they had GPS on their iPhones? Would Cinderella Snapchat the party? Try it out and see where your imagination takes you.
Create a Bunch of People
No need to think of a story now — just make up a person. What was their childhood like? What are their hopes and dreams? What are they afraid of? Make an interesting character, and the world around them will grow naturally in your mind. That’s steps away from an actual plot.
Write Something From Your Memory
Recollections can make for some great writing material. Choose a moment from your life, and write about it. What was your first teacher like? Have you ever encountered a person that changed your mind about something? What was the greatest party you’ve ever been to?
Try the Plot Generator
Take a story from this plot generator, and write something with that plot in any genre. Anything that comes to your mind will do, and with this generator, there will be no shortage of fun ideas to try out:
“A magical Santa impersonator has a day to find the evidence.”
“A hunter and a religious rock star form an alliance to go on to audition for X-Factor. The situation is complicated by a wedding.”
“A poor personal assistant muddles briefcases with a psychotic ghost.”
Get Inspired by a Prompt
We’ve already featured this subreddit in our post on Reddit’s writer communities, and it’s definitely worth revisiting. /r/writingprompts is a huge repository of ideas you can get inspired by. Keep your eye out for the Mods’ choice category to see the most interesting prompts.
Write a Prequel to an Article
Find a newspaper (or go online, let’s be realistic), find a news item that piques your interest, and write a short story that culminates with that article coming out.
Steal Another Writer’s Character
Choose a story that you like, select a character that’s not the protagonist, and write the story from their point of view. Choose the right one, and the story might end up pretty exciting. How about the villain?
A lot of the time we’re not writing because we’re afraid that the result will be poor. That is exactly why writing exercises work so well: there are no stakes, just room to be creative. Try them out, or pick up these great books that feature creative writing exercises: