A guide to writing exercises

I’m never short on ideas for stories, but sometimes we all need to have our imagination stimulated. I’ve come up with a few writing exercises and prompts for anyone who is stuck in rut or just feels like taking their imagination for a walk. These writing exercises and prompts can be used to stimulate ideas for fiction, poetry and even non-fiction. The possibilities are endless. Hopefully they will keep you writing even when you think you can’t.

Writing prompts

Writing prompts are only suggestions for writing. A prompt can be anything from a single word, a quote or image, an expression or phrase or half a sentence. These prompts are designed to arouse and exercise the imagination. Generally there aren’t any rules with writing prompts except to write and have fun. You can write for as long or as little as you want and you might even find the prompt takes you in a completely unexpected direction. My advice is to go with it. Keep your responses because there is always a chance you can use it somewhere else or even better, it might develop into a story.

Free-writing exercises

The aim of free-writing exercises is to also to exercise your imagination, not to see how clever you are or how beautifully you write. Let your imagination romp for awhile and you’ll find that you’ll soon be harnessing its power. To use the exercises:

  1. Grab a pen or the keyboard, whatever you’re most comfortable with.
  2. Try not to think too much.
  3. Write a full page, or perhaps for ten minutes
  4. Don’t stop writing until you reach the end of your target
  5. Forget grace and style and just go for it.
  6. Focus on the next word and then the next. Don’t look back.
  7. Lock up the inner critic and resist editing.
  8. When you’ve reached the end of the page or your allotted time, read what you’ve written out loud.
  9. Look for anything that stands out. Where has your free thinking led you?
  10. Is there anything worth following up on?