Writer's block can be tough to overcome, but these five fun creative writing exercises can help get you started again. I recommend writing by hand in a writer's notebook for these, especially if you normally type on a computer. The process of writing by hand is much more organic and physical and can help you "feel" the effects of your writing. I've organized these writing exercises based on the length of time each will take.
Practice free association. Set a 30 second timer, pick one random word to begin (a good starting place is to open a magazine or book and place your finger randomly on the page), and start writing. Write the first word or short phrase that pops into your head upon seeing your starting word. Then from there, write the next word that you associate with the most recent word you wrote down. Continue hopping from word to word until the timer is up, then take a 30 second resting break. Next, set the timer for one minute and begin again with a new starting word. This fun creative writing exercise will train you to welcome the jumble of random thoughts in your head; try not to suppress any of your reactions or write what you think "should" be a logical word association. It can be difficult and confusing at first, or perhaps even challenging to keep your thoughts pulled in tight in the range of one-word increments. The goal here is to stretch the mind and help you develop some more introspective abilities.
Pick a concept or feeling--like uncertainty, or death, or anticipation, etc. Next pick an object--like paper, or a strawberry, or a flag, etc. Then, spend ten minutes writing about your concept while incorporating your object to tell a story or describe the concept without naming the concept at all during the exercise (if you're writing about uncertainty using a flag, then avoid the words "uncertainty" and "uncertain" but you can still use "flag"). This is a really fun creative writing exercise to do if you're feeling bored or fresh out of creativity because it basically forces you to be creative. It can also yield some intricate, fresh scenes that you might want to later polish and use for a project.
Go on a 15-minute walk outside and by yourself, no matter what the weather looks like. As you're walking, observe the changes in the scenery around you as well as the changes in yourself. Notice your physical responses to the weather as well as your emotional responses--does anything you see bring up any memories? Does the rain or cold or heat make you uncomfortable? How do you notice yourself reacting to these new physical sensations? Pay attention to the colors, sounds, and smells as well. When you get back, spend the second half of your time writing about your experiences. Many times, simply going outside can give you inspiration or create changes in your thought patterns if you're at a mental roadblock. It will also help you become a little more self aware of your body and your physical nature; many times it's easy to stay inside if it's raining or snowing, but getting outside and experiencing these things can bring new feelings and insights.
Practice creating portraits and landscapes with your writing. For this exercise, go to a public place that's somewhat unfamiliar to you--a new coffee shop, a museum, a park, or even a train or bus station. As you sit, observe your surroundings and describe them. Pick a person (or a few people) and write about them, what they look like, what their personality is like, and what you think their lives are like. You can also choose to describe the setting or atmosphere around you. Again, stay in touch with your senses and note the sensory qualities of what's around you. I really love this exercise because it allows you to synthesize what you can observe with what you can only guess at. It also has given me ideas for settings and characters in my poetry and fiction writing.
(This one doesn't actually require a full day of writing.)
Place your writer's notebook by your bedside table before you go to sleep. In the morning, right after you wake up, jot down your dreams from the night before. If you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, reach for your notebook and scribble down a couple thoughts before falling back asleep. Most of the time, we forget our dreams by the time we're up and brushing our teeth, so it's important to start writing as soon as you can. If you don't remember your dreams from the night before, still spend about 5-10 minutes freewriting any thoughts or feelings that you're experiencing. Many times, although we might not remember a dream, we still feel its residual effects and lingering emotions that it created. Keeping a dream log can build self awareness, and at the very least be quite entertaining if you have the time. We did this for one of my creative writing classes, and it was really interesting to see how much better I remembered my dreams after writing them down each morning. I don't usually use these for psychoanalysis, but if you're into that, then a dream log would be a great place to start.
I hope these writing exercises can give you some ideas, or at least provide something fun to do for a few minutes. Happy writing!
These are very creative suggestions to break writer's block. I love this list and sure hope it makes a feature on the front page one day.
I appreciate your creative writing exercises. I rarely have writers block, but want to try your ideas to see what pops up for me. The writing in a notebook idea is unique. h5
Good suggestions...I have writer's block all the time.
Thanks for sharing these helpful writing exercises. I will have to try them. High 5!
select one here...