Wouldn’t you love to smash your content out of the ring every time?
To always land that knockout blow, just like your writing idols?
Imagine having the same audience of cheering fans, clamoring to read your next post (or to buy your first book as a published author).
Yep. That’s the dream, alright.
But let’s face reality. When you sit down to write new content, it never quite measures up to the greats. (How do they make it look so easy?)
You’d love to write like the heavyweight blogging champions that inspired you to start a blog in the first place, but right now you feel more like the puny guy at the punching bag. You may as well grab another soda and flop in front of the TV.
But don’t throw in the towel just yet.
You may not write like those blogging champions now, but that doesn’t mean you never will. If you exercise your writing muscles, you too can make money blogging and become one of the greats.
Exercise. (Groan.) Who needs it?
You do. We all do.
If you want to be physically fit, you need to exercise your body. And if you want to produce powerful, punchy content, you need to exercise your writing muscles. It’s a no-brainer.
But that doesn’t mean you just write every day without any training regimen.
They will take 15-30 minutes every day to train specific skills. And they won’t just train once and think they’re done. They will go back and train the same writing skill over and over, until they have it down pat.
When you do them for the first time, you might feel clumsy and unnatural. But after a few weeks of hard work, you’ll quickly notice a difference.
That’s how exercise works.
Ready to get started?
Then take town that poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger and pin-up William Shakespeare, because we’re about to max out on creative writing prompts and story inspiration.
Let’s the writing gym!
The most powerful writers are fearless. They bleed everything they have onto the page, making people wince, gasp, sob or seethe. Every blog post, poem, or story idea connects on a deep level because they’re not scared to be vulnerable.
If you want your writing to connect like that, you must train yourself to release your suppressed emotions, embrace your creative flow, and write with brutal honesty.
It’s hard to put all of yourself out there, but once you master the technique, it’s like unshackling the chains. You will connect with your readers on an entirely new level.
Every creative writing exercise listed below will train you to be fearlessly vulnerable.
I’m sure you love your friends dearly, but let’s be honest, sometimes they annoy the heck out of you.
Write a letter to each of your friends, telling them what you hate about them. Tell them everything you wish they’d stop doing and saying.
Don’t actually send it — I don’t want to be responsible for ruining all your friendships — but don’t hold anything back.
And when you’re done, move on to family members, coworkers, and so on.
Write them the letter you’ve been penning in your head since the day they reached into your chest, ripped out your heart, and left it bleeding at your feet.
Tell them about the physical pain and every emotion you felt at that moment. The ones that are seared into your brain forever.
Think about the most painful experiences in your life — the ones that didn’t just make you shed a tear or two, but made you bawl bucketloads.
Try freewriting them. Write an account of those occasions and let all the emotions flood out.
You should be dripping tears onto your keyboard while you do this.
Write about a secret that you’ve kept locked away out of embarrassment — something about yourself that nobody knows and that you don’t want anybody to know. Now’s the time to unleash the beast.
Remember, whatever you write is for your eyes only, and once you’re done, you can tear it up right away.
What’s that one thing that you constantly worry will happen? What’s that one recurring nightmare that makes you wake up screaming and sobbing?
Whatever it is, write about it. Get it all on the page and face your monsters.
Don’t edit your words. Heck, don’t even pay attention to the words you’re writing. Just get them down on paper and let the creative juice flow.
Everyone has a moment they wish they could erase. The shame and indignity of something you said or did. The toe-curling embarrassment that still makes you groan in agony whenever the memory pops into your head.
Put it down in writing. Remember every mortifying detail. Relive the humiliation and spew it all onto the page.
Your content shouldn’t just get the message across, it should do so with flair and gusto. It should be so pleasing to read that readers flow from line to line.
That’s why every serious writer should spend serious time honing their writing style until it’s almost flawless.
Pick a blogger or bestseller whose voice you admire and copy their content, word for word; every long emotional paragraph to every simple sentence. Don’t think too hard about it. Just go with it.
Make no mistake. This is one of the most powerful ways to sharpen your writing skills and build creative muscle.
Or see this example, where MLK uses several rhetorical devices in a row:
These are marvelous writing tools you can use to make your content explode with power.
To get a good feel for them, google the transcripts of famous speeches, see if you can spot where they use rhetorical devices like the ones above, and then rewrite them to fit into five different contexts.
For example, you might rewrite JFK’s words as such:
The goal of this writing exercise is to practice these techniques until your brain absorbs the rhythm and inflection and it becomes second nature to recognize where to include rhetorical devices in your writing.
Rambling sentences are a turn-off. Powerful content uses short and pacey sentences that are easy to read and simple to grasp.
That’s why you should train yourself to write concisely.
Select one of your old posts and rewrite it, paragraph by paragraph. Your goal is to cut around 20% of your total word count without changing the meaning or deleting a point.
Do this enough, and eventually conciseness will become a natural part of your writing process.
Nobody likes reading posts that go off on endless tangents and drag on and on about irrelevant nonsense.
In this exercise, write a story that paints a complete picture of your life, but limit yourself to 400 words. This forces you to focus on the most important events.
You can repeat this exercise with different topics as well. For instance, you might write a 400-word summary of the last movie you watched or the last nonfiction book you bought on Amazon.
You don’t want your content to read like an instruction manual. It should read like you’re having a conversation with your readers. This makes them feel more engaged with the content.
Writing fiction can help with this. So, before you write your next post, write a dialogue between yourself and an audience member on the same topic.
Think about how two people would chat (like in the scene of a movie), and reflect this natural flow in your writing.
So make a list of everything you did or experienced yesterday such as getting up from bed, brushing your teeth, walking the dog, doing yoga, and so on. Now, for each activity, come up with a metaphor or analogy.
Training your brain to make connections between two unrelated things will get your creativity flowing and make you more imaginative. Practice it enough and you’ll find that metaphors and similes will come to you naturally as you tackle your next post or writing project.
Hint: Finding great analogies is crazy-hard. Use this guide to make sure you’re doing it right.
Your content shouldn’t just teach and inspire your audience, it should also entertain. And sprinkling in the odd joke here and there can go a long way.
Humor helps you connect with your audience. It makes your content stand out in what may be an otherwise humorless niche, and this means it’s more likely to be remembered.
Don’t worry — you don’t have to become the next Jerry Seinfeld. But with these exercises, you can train yourself to find the funny in the mundane.
One reliable way to make people laugh is to put everything in the world into new and absurd contexts.
You pretend you don’t know what an object or custom is actually for, and then guess at what its true purpose is.
See how that works?
Don’t worry about sounding silly. After all, creativity is all about thinking completely outside the box (like, way outside the box).
Another good way to go for laughs is to exaggerate something to the point of absurdity.
If you want an example of this in action, see this video of Phyllis Diller talking about her mother-in-law:
Get the picture?
Good. Now brainstorm twenty endings to each of these sentences:
Don’t worry if they’re not all comedy gold. The idea is to practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
And when you’re done with this list, continue practicing. Use things you own or people you know, define a few of their characteristics (e.g., my car is red, tiny, old, guzzles gas, has powerful brakes, etc.), and then make a list of exaggerations.
Dry content is boring. If you want to evoke a powerful response, you must evoke your reader’s senses.
You must paint tangible scenes, using visual and sensual language to make your words burst off the page in glorious technicolor.
Take this extract from one of Jon Morrow’s most inspiring posts, An Open Letter to Writers Struggling to Find Their Courage. It’s chock-full of words that paint a graphic picture of a fish:
You go fishing one day with your rod and reel, hook a fish, and reel it in, dragging it out of the water so you can get a better look at your catch. It’s lying on land, its gills pumping furiously, its eyes bulging, its mouth opening and closing in silent screams. Every once in a while, it flips around, trying to work its way back into the water, but it’s no use; the poor thing is hooked.
When you read that, can’t you just see the fish flip-flopping in front of you?
Powerful, isn’t it?
Use these exercises to practice painting vivid scenes yourself.
What were you wearing? Where did you meet up? What were the first words out of your mouth?
Describe your memories of the date, making them as vivid and tangible as possible.
Don’t tell us she was pretty. Tell us how her sparkling eyes made you tingle from head to toe. Make us picture the scene, hear the sounds, and feel your sensations.
Was it terrifying? Funny? Heartwarming?
Did your mother-in-law’s eyes laser your heart before her tongue lashed at your soul? Or was she as welcoming as fried chicken at a family barbeque?
This one speaks for itself. So I’ll just give you an example of my own:
What’s your most vivid memory of school? Describe every detail.
Write an account of your most glorious sporting achievement, whether you’re an Olympic champion, or you and your brother won the under-fives’ three-legged race at your community fair.
Relive every triumphant moment as you realized you were about to make your own personal version of sporting history.
Your writing must be persuasive if you want it to stick in people’s minds.
It must persuade your readers to see your point of view. It must persuade your readers to believe in themselves. Sometimes, it must persuade readers to buy what you’re selling.
So here are some exercises to practice your persuasion skills.
Everyone is a work in progress, which is why one of the best ways to persuade people is to show them a better version of themselves. If you can inspire someone, you can persuade them.
But not everybody is naturally inspirational. That’s why you should practice.
You must have had moments in your past when you could’ve used some words of encouragement — moments when you felt scared, or concerned, or defeated.
Find these moments in your life, and write your younger self a pep-talk. Write down what you needed to hear in that moment. Inspire your younger self to keep their head up and keep going. Show them that better version of themselves.
You may not have any products or services on offer yet, but at some point, you probably will. That means you won’t just have to know how to sell, but you’ll have to get over whatever hangups you have about being “salesy.”
Pick an object from your house — something mundane, like a dinner plate, a pencil, or a towel — and write an over-the-top sales pitch for it.
Think about the benefits of the object, and what features it has that makes it stand out against other similar objects. By picking a mundane object, you force yourself to get creative when you think of its unique selling points.
When you write a blog post, you must write with authority. That means you can’t be wishy-washy with your language and you can’t hold back your opinions because you’re afraid they might rub people the wrong way. (Remember, you have to be fearless.)
Train yourself to be assertive in your writing by picking a controversial topic you feel strongly about and pretending the New York Times asked you to write an op-ed on it.
State your opinion clearly and proudly, avoid ambiguity, and explain in no uncertain terms why you feel the way you feel.
Everyone loves a good story. And understanding the mechanics of telling a good story will make you a far more engaging writer.
Did you know, for instance, that most great stories follow a three-act structure?
When you do the exercises below, try and mix things up by writing shorter and longer stories. Write a multi-page short story, then write a three-paragraph story. But apply the three-act structure every time, until you have it down pat.
Imagine you’re a superhero who has to save the world from a terrible evil. Use your real life for inspiration, but sprinkle in fantastical elements to make things more exciting.
Where do you come from? What’s your superpower? Who or what gave you your powers? What’s your kryptonite? Who’s your evil arch-enemy?
Have fun with this one!
Sit in a café and observe the people around you. Pick someone who looks interesting. Now, use every ounce of your imagination and write his or her story.
What brought them to this coffee shop? Are they in the first act of their story and about to set off on an adventure, or are they in the third act and recuperating from the adventure they had?
Did you ever see the movie Rear Window? Or have you read this year’s literary thriller, The Woman in The Window? Both follow a similar compelling storyline of someone witnessing a crime in a neighboring house… or did they?
Next time you’re walking your dog around your neighborhood, pay more attention to the homes you pass or look at them in a different way. Now write a synopsis of a short thriller inspired by any of the houses you see (or can see into). Let the front yard, architecture, and possibly the people drive your twisted tale.
Go to your local graveyard and wander around the tombstones. Take inspiration from the inscriptions and write a series of short stories about the characters you find.
How did they die? Who did they leave behind? Are they connected to anyone else in the graveyard?
Think of your favorite fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel) and rewrite them from the bad guy’s point of view.
Put yourself in their shoes. Think about what motivated them, what they were trying to achieve, and whether they cared what other people thought of them.
Do the same for each of the main characters in the story (e.g., the mom, the grandma, the woodcutter). And finally, create a new disinterested observer and write the same fairy tale from their point of view.
This will teach you to think more deeply about character development in your stories.
You made it!
You’ve completed a full run-through of your writing workout.
All you have to do now is start practicing these exercises for real.
Every day. Every week and every month.
Keep refreshing them. Keep enthused and keep at it.
Before you know it, you’re going to go from that puny guy at the punching bag to heavyweight writing champion of the world.
Yeah! (Cue Rocky music!)
The post 27 Creative Writing Exercises That’ll Punch Up Your Writing appeared first on Smart Blogger.