Practical Exercises to Improve Writing Skills (and Keep Practicing)
While playing with perspective makes for a great fiction writing exercise , poets and essayists can do this too. Patricia Smith’s poem “Skinhead,” for example, is a persona piece written from the perspective of a white nationalist, but the poem clearly condemns the speaker’s beliefs.
Writing exercises you can do in 10 minutes or less
Writing is a skill set anyone can improve with a bit of dedication, direction, and practice. The trick is figuring out what actions will truly help you become a better writer and which are simply a waste of time.
One of the best strategies great writers use for improvement are writing exercises — guided written activities that develop specific writing-related skills. The key is to choose daily writing exercises that align with your goals.
The best writing exercises focus on helping you improve one or two specific elements at a time. It’s similar to how athletes go to the gym to train certain muscle groups. Impressive performance is the result of targeted practice.
Below, you’ll find a list of 8 activities you can try, along with clear directions on how to start them, and short explanations of how each one will help you grow as a writer.
I Spent Two Years Practicing My Book (And Then I Published It!)
Practicing is hard work, especially when you just start writing. Still, when you practice exercises to improve your writing skills, it will make a big difference.
I often asked myself if this was all worth it. Am I really learning? Or am I just fooling myself? When you’re in the grind of the day to day, it’s hard to see the improvement.
Headspace is now published, and you can pick up a copy now.
Writing Exercises: Have Fun with Them!
Many of these writing exercises might feel challenging at first—and that’s a good thing! You will unlock new ideas and writing strengths by struggling through these creative challenges. The main point is to have fun with them and use them to explore within your writing, without indulging too many monologues from your inner critic.
Are you looking for more exercises to improve your writing skills? Our instructors can offer prompts, illuminating lectures, one-to-one feedback, and more to help you improve your craft. Check out our upcoming creative writing courses, and let’s put these skills to practice.
Write a beginner’s guide on something you’re passionate about
Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where you have no clue what the other person is talking about? They’re using lingo you’ve never heard and you’re trying to think of something to say, but you have no idea, so eventually, you just tune them out.
As a creator, your job is to excite your audience about your offers, not intimidate and confuse them. To prevent your audience from tuning you out, make sure your copy explains your offerings in a way that’s easy to understand.
To practice writing simple copy, spend ten minutes a day crafting a beginner’s guide breaking down a topic you’re intimately familiar with. Write your guide for someone who has no experience with the topic at hand.
“If you are not ready to write [longform copy] just yet, then social media [posts] are a great starting point. Social Media posts are short, therefore, you learn how to get your point across with minimal character and word targets.”
— Maria Juvakka
Bonus: If your guides relate to your niche, they can serve as starting points for actual books or ebooks. While you might not have your sights set on becoming an author, you can package up your guides as ebooks for an additional stream of passive income.
Writing Exercises to Improve Your Writing Skills
1. Fill a Blank Page
Set aside an hour and fill an entire page. This can be the start of a book draft, a short story, a story idea, blogging, or just free writing. One page is not a huge demand, but is enough words to get the juices flowing. Sometimes all you need is to give your stream of consciousness permission to flow.
2. Write Flash Fiction
I’ve read flash fiction that consist of only two words but speak volumns. If you’re not familiar with writing flash fiction, or feel intimidated by the idea, try it in reverse: write out a story premise, then reduce the words to see how many you can cut out and still retain the essence of the story.
3. Use a New Word
Creative writers are constantly learning new things. Expanding your vocabulary is part of this. While you don’t have to constantly fill your story with flowery language to achieve great writing, it’s beneficial to have a good selection of words to choose from.
Try finding a word you’ve never used before and writing a little passage using it. This can be combined with any of the other three exercises, and is in fact encouraged because it will help you become more comfortable integrating new words into your writing.
4. Switch the Point of View
Writing a story from a different character’s point of view can provide a lot of insight and flex your creative muscles. Writing from a different POV is more than just rewriting the same story, because every sequence of events presents a different story to different characters.
One person’s joy may be another person’s tragedy. Seeing a story’s events from a different POV forces you outside the box and really consider how to reframe an event or communicate a different message.