1. Guess That Color: This is is a fun, easy exercise to do with a group of student or writers. Go to the website The page will fill with a color, and your group designates an amount of time – 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Everyone spend this time writing, and when the time is up, take turns reading the exercises out loud. The goal is for everyone listening to try to guess what color you were given.
  2. Children’s writer Gail Carson Levine is well known for sharing writing advice and prompts on her blog, and in books like Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink. One prompt from this book is to take the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet” and “tell the story from the spider’s point of view. Give it spidery thoughts, whatever they are. Make up the workings of a spider’s mind.” You could do the same with many other nursery rhymes!
  3. The LOCK system for plot development from Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell can be applied to any work in progress, whether you are in the beginning drafting stages or finishing up revisions. Fill in the blanks for each sentence: “My Lead is a _________________. Her Objective is to _______________. She is Confronted by __________, who opposes her because _______________. The ending will be a Knockout when ____________.”
  4. In her book Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway provides the following exercise in showing and telling: “Write about something familiar from the point of view of a stranger – a foreigner, a time-traveler, a prisoner released after 20 years in jail. Pick something that might seem commonplace to your readers and imagine how the stranger would perceive it through all available senses. The goal is to make the everyday seem strange and new again. Avoid using familiar words the character wouldn’t know. You might even try not to name the situation but let the reader figure out where the character is through your use of sensory details.”
  5. For the essay writer, one of my favorite prompts is to “Tell your life story in three incidents involving hair,” taken from Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing.
  6. From the same book, write a poem or essay “about a building you care about. Choose one of which you have strong memories, then research the place itself. How does your memory of the place contrast with, or how is it qualified by, what you learn?”

I hope you use these prompts to create some beautiful words. Happy Writing!

Writing Exercises to Use Again and Again