7 Writing Exercises to Kickstart Your Creativity

Need some inspiration for your next writing project? Hummingbird in Underworld author Deborah Tobola has 7 exercises to fuel your creativity.
Author:
Publish date:

Need some inspiration for your next writing project? Hummingbird in Underworld author Deborah Tobola has 7 exercises to fuel your creativity.

Deborah Tobola Hummingbird in Underworld

Maybe it’s not exactly writer’s block, but sometimes we sit with a blank screen or notebook and wait for a bolt from the blue, a way to begin a new piece. When that happens, it’s time to play. Here are seven fun ways to kickstart your creativity:

  1. Get out. Have you noticed that traveling often inspires writing? Somehow changing the scenery fuels the creative spirit. It doesn’t have to be a long trip. If you usually write in an office, just get out. Take a hike, visit a nearby farmer’s market, go to the beach—or go to your own backyard. One of my poet friends writes in coffee shops. If you choose that route, it’s a perfect place for #2.
  2. Listen in. A crowded coffee shop is a mother lode if you are listening for scraps of conversation to jot down. Sometimes colorful language will catch your ear, sometimes the nugget of a future storyline.
  3. Cut it up. From magazines and newspapers, cut out 50 to 100 words and phrases, including articles and conjunctions. Put them in a box. With colorful construction paper and a glue stick, make a “graffiti poem.” You might be surprised at what you create!
  4. Cook it. Write a poem explaining how to prepare a dish. In my poem about teaching my niece to make roast duck, a Thanksgiving tradition, I’m also giving a cooking lesson to my readers: “We rinse the bird, pat it dry and pierce its skin with a sharp fork./ Now rub it with salt, inside and out. Now paprika . . .”

If you’d rather take a less literal approach, you can write a recipe for romance, disaster, enlightenment, or whatever appeals to you.

  1. Go back. One of my favorite writing prompts is called “Where I Come From.” I ask students to write about what music is playing, what the weather is, what’s cooking on the stove, what is hanging on the wall, what is growing outside. I ask them to include a physical landmark and the color yellow. “Where I Come From” can be literal or metaphorical.
  2. Give thanks. Write about the gift that changed your life. It can be large or small. You may find, as I have, that it isn’t necessarily about the actual object, but message behind it. The gift that changed my life was a toy typewriter, which I received for Christmas present when I was ten years old. Even though it was a toy, the message was real. My parents believed in my dream.
  3. Write on. What’s more inspiring than words themselves? Here’s an A to Z list of interesting words to explore. Some of them are begging to be put together—like cherish and perish, akimbo and bamboozle, nix and tryst. Challenge yourself to use at least 12 of these words in a poem or prose piece. Hopefully the result will be iridescent!
  • akimbo
  • bamboozle
  • cherish
  • diaphanous
  • elixir
  • fracas
  • gossamer
  • halcyon
  • iridescent
  • jubilee
  • kvetch
  • lullaby
  • miasma
  • nix
  • oomph
  • perish
  • quicksilver
  • razzmatazz
  • silhouette
  • tryst
  • umpteen
  • velvet
  • woebegone
  • xenon
  • zeitgeist

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Don't let doubt or fear get the best of you—take a chance and learn how to start writing a book, novel, short story, memoir, or essay. WD University's Getting Started in Writing will help you discover your voice, learn the basics of grammar, and examine the different types of writing. Register today!

Getting Started in Writing
GettyImages-119430542

Your Story #112

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Self-Published Ebook Awards

Announcing the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards! Discover the titles that placed in the categories of contemporary fiction, fantasy, memoir, mystery, and more.

Greg Russo: On Writing a Film Based on a Video Game

Greg Russo: On Writing a Screenplay Based on a Video Game

Professional screenwriter Greg Russo discusses the joy and challenge of converting a popular video games series into a screenplay and the balance of enticing a new audience while honoring a franchise's fans.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a city poem.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character fall under the influence of something or someone.

WD-PersonalEssay-2020-WinnerGraphic

Suspended: Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to J.E. Stamper, grand prize winner of the Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's his winning essay, "Suspended."

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Want to know how to keep your readers engaged and entertained with your mystery novel? Let these six tips from thriller author Kris Calvin guide you!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a blank story poem.

Kristin Beck: On Writing Quickly and Publishing Slowly

Kristin Beck: On Writing Quickly and Publishing Slowly

Debut novelist Kristin Beck shares what it was like to write her historical fiction novel Courage, My Love and why she was so thankful for a slow publishing process.