Practice Writing

Daily Creative Writing Practice

In her book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg talks a lot about writing practice. Pick a word or phrase and just write what comes to mind. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dialogue, scenes, or poetry. You may write from your own memory, or make up a totally off-the-wall story.

Daily writing practice is a chance to write for the joy of writing, to play with words without the pressure of writing for publication, although the long-term effect will be to increase your skills and therefore your chances for publication.

Make Writing Easier

With each practice writing exercise, you get better at saying what you want to say, better at recording the thoughts or movies in your head without the gut-wrenching labor most of us go through. That doesn’t mean your future writing won’t need editing, just that the act of getting the first draft down will become easier. And the more you write, the more your own style of writing begins to come through.

Keep Practice Writing Short

Writing practice doesn’t need to be long. Ten to fifteen minutes on an exercise can be plenty, or you may choose to write on particular topics for 30 or 40 minutes. But do it every day, and set a timer – you want to stop while it’s still fresh and fun, or you’ll get intimidated and won’t come back for a second time.

Creative Writing Exercises and Prompts

Here are some possible exercises and prompts, from single words to phrases and quotes. The first one is fleshed out with questions to start you out, and you can use those same ideas on the other words. Get your pen and paper, find a comfy chair, set a timer, and GO!

Thunderstorm

• What does a thunderstorm mean to you? Excitement, while you’re safe inside? Clammy fear? Worry about a tornado? Massive flooding?

• Write the inner thoughts of a person watching a thunderstorm.

• Write a scene between two people fighting, with the storm interrupting or accenting their fight.

• Make a list of vivid, concrete words about thunderstorms and people/objects affected by them.

• Write a childhood memory of being caught in a thunderstorm.

Now use similar ideas to write about the following words or phrases:

• Lavender (mentioned in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones)

• Mud

• Glitter

• Banana

• Hopscotch

• Jealousy

• Windows

• Laughter

• Mistletoe

• Sandcastles

• Planting a vegetable garden

• Sharpening pencils

• Shopping with your mother

• Losing weight

• “He who laughs last . . .”

• Favorite uncle

• Moonlight walks

Create Your Own Ideas

As you can see, anything and everything is fair game for practice writing.

• Type a double- or triple-spaced list of your own, cut it up, and draw one out of a jar each day.

• Read Let Characters Reveal Themselves to see how a fiction workshop did practice writing with dialogue only.

• Search the internet for writing prompts, but feel free to take only the main concept if you don’t like the complete assignment.