You’ve got tea on your desk and a word document open on your computer. You take a sip of your tea for inspiration but find that you’re having trouble writing. Ideas flowed out from your fingertips yesterday, but the words won’t come out today.
As writers, it can be challenging to come up with new ideas and characters day after day. After all, writing is an active activity that takes time and creativity. Many writers know how it feels to look at a piece of paper and not know what to write next.
Luckily there’s plenty of methods to help boost your creativity and inspiration. Here’s five different writing exercises to motivate yourself during the writing process.
Interview Your Characters
If you’re writing a book, consider using an interview for a writing exercise. That means you should sit down, choose a character to speak with, and write down what they tell you. This writing exercise can help you breathe life into your story by fleshing out quirks and adding more personality to the people in your novel.
Think about it: interviews are used to learn about intriguing individuals. In an interview, interviewees reveal their excitement, passion, dreams, and story of how they got where they are today. Interviewing a fictional character can help reveal details about your character’s motivation and drive.
Consider interviewing your characters to help build their personalities and backstories. You can use the interview writing exercise to learn more about their thoughts, family, history, secrets, and whatever else they might tell you. Even if you don’t use all these details in the story, understanding where the character is coming from can help increase their realness.
Here’s two ways you can interview your characters:
- Pretend you’re a talk show host. You’re sitting in the same room as your character, and it’s your job to interview them. What do you want to know about them? How do you answer them back? How does the audience react to their answers? Are you on TV? What do people comment about your character after the show airs?
- Use a list of questions. When you interview your character, it’s a good idea to go through a list of questions. You want to make sure you cover different points such as their backstory, likes, dislikes, beliefs, and relationships. This method can help you if you’re early in the writing process because it gives you an idea of who the character is.
You should strive to know everything about your characters from their favorite book to their relationships. After all, characters are a reflection of people in the real world, and the more you know about them, the more believable they become. Try interviewing your characters to improve your writing and expand on their personalities.
Freewriting is a writing exercise where you write without stopping. Some writers freewrite with prompts while others put whatever comes to mind on the page. Freewriting is a writing exercise often used to bring out new ideas and help you practice before working on your piece.
When you freewrite, you don’t edit anything. The goal of freewriting is to generate a “free flow” of ideas without worrying about grammar, outlines, or sentence structure. You can always edit your freewrites later.
Freewriting is a great way to help expand your creativity because you aren’t worried about the writing process. All you need to freewrite is a pencil, piece of paper, and a will to write. That makes freewriting one of the easiest and quickest writing exercises.
Here’s a few tips for when you freewrite:
- Time yourself. Make sure you’re freewriting for at least twenty to thirty minutes. Timing yourself ensures you’re dedicating enough of time writing down ideas, dialogue, and scenarios.
- Keep going. Don’t correct grammar or think about consistency; the point of freewriting is to expand your mind and open up ideas. Resist the urge to go back and edit something until after you’ve finished your freewrite. Remember, to get the most out of this writing exercise, you need to keep going.
- Use a prompt. Using a prompt and writing something based on it can help you think of new storylines. After all, a prompt is a challenge that can help encourage and bring out creativity. Try using a prompt generator or a set list of prompts that you haven’t seen before.
- Try to freewrite without distractions. Turn off music, put your phone in a drawer, and go somewhere quiet. This will help you focus on generating ideas without worrying about interruptions.
The freewriting writing exercise is best done before you work on your big project because it can help open and expand your mind. Consider using freewriting when you need a new idea or want to try new things.
Write about the Room You’re In
If you’re completely stumped for a writing prompt, take a look at your surroundings. Is there anything that intrigues you? Take the room you’re in and write a story about it!
Writing about your surroundings can be a great way to work on descriptions. After all, it’s important to place characters in settings that are believable to the reader. When you don’t give your reader any surroundings to pay attention to, the characters end up standing in a “blank space.”
To start this writing exercise, look around the room. Does anything interest you? Why are you here? What’s the lighting and mood like? What reason could one of your characters come here?
Here’s a few ideas to help you when writing about your surroundings:
- Go through the five senses. What do you smell? Touch? Taste? Hear? See? Look at each sense one by one to help get an idea of where you are. Be as specific as possible to help develop your description. Then, compose a few pages describing the place from your character’s point of view. This can help give you the groundwork for writing about a place.
- What would your character do in this room? Think about what your character would do if they were in the same room. This a great writing exercise because it might be a setting you hadn’t thought of putting your character in before. For example, if you’re at a library, is there a certain book they might pick up? Do they use the computers? Where would they sit down?
- Write about an interesting object. If you’re stumped, pick up an object in your room. How does it feel? How would you describe it? Does anything stand out to you? What kind of history does it have? Try writing about something unique that you haven’t thought of exploring before.
Writing about your surroundings can help you create interesting places. Use this method when you’re looking to put your characters in a realistic place.
Finish a Conversation
Another writing exercise you can use to help generate unique ideas is to finish a conversation. This means you take part of a conversation you overhear and finish it with your creativity.
To start this writing exercise, you will need to go to a public place such as the mall, park, or library. Then, listen to a conversation that happens. Write down the following:
- How does the conversation start? Try to be as detailed with the sentences as you can. You want to make sure you capture the excitement, argument, etc. that’s happening. After you’re done, piece everything together so you have a clear picture of what you heard.
- How old are the people? Try to guesstimate how old the people you’re writing about are. What are they wearing? Who do you think they are? What is their relationship? Understanding the two people you overheard gives you a sense of where to take the story.
- What language did the people use? Did these people talk in slang? Formally? Use words a certain group would? This will give you a sense of the demographics of the people you’re writing about.
Finishing a conversation can help you improve your dialogue techniques. When characters speak, it needs to sound natural to help readers connect. Consider using this idea to help expand how you approach writing conversations between characters.
Use a Song
Another writing exercise to help you generate writing ideas is to use a song. There’s many songs out there that tell a story or explains the emotions a singer feels. That makes song lyrics one of the best ways to help create interesting characters and plot lines.
Turn on the radio and note the first song that comes on. What is the song about? What does the singer feel? Can you connect to what they’re saying? After you listen, go online and look at the words in more detail. Write a story based on the theme, line, or feelings you overheard.
Here’s a few things you can keep in mind as you work through this writing exercise:
- Can you make a character from the song? Does the song give you an idea of who’s singing? Think about the kind of person who might sing the song; then, write a story based on them.
- What emotions are conveyed? Happiness? Sadness? First Love? Song lyrics are often a poetic way to explore different human emotions. One way of thinking about this is remembering how when you were a teen, you might’ve used songs to express yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of understanding the song as if it can relate to real life.
- Can you take a line from the song for a prompt? Another way you can use a song is to take a line and write a story about it. This writing exercise will help give you a starting point for your next story.
- Avoid musicals. Try avoiding musicals for this writing exercise. Most musicals have a set story connected to the dialogue within the song, and that defeats the purpose of coming up with your own ideas.
Keep the song random if you can; after all, this is how you generate new ideas. You want to use this writing exercise to stretch yourself as a writer.
Ready to Write?
Now that you have five different writing exercises, it’s time to start writing. Use these whenever you need a little inspiration or want to stretch yourself.
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