Tag Archives: creative writing exercises

Finding your Writer’s Voice

My NaNoWriMo group met at the library a few weeks ago to practice an exercise our liason learned in a workshop.

This is Intense. It WILL resurrect your creativity.

  1. You should have at least one partner, but a group of 3 or 4 works best.
  2. each writer brings 3 pictures to the workshop (cut from magazines, printed from online, taken from your own camera) images should be interesting because these will be used to prompt ideas
  3. everyone lays their pics onto one table and each writer selects 2-3 images that really pique their interest or speak to them
  4. back at your notebook or laptop, one person sets the timer for THREE MINUTES
  5. as a group, pile your pics together and choose one picture to start with, study it, let your mind churn out characters, settings, story lines or dialogue and get ready …
  6. Timer goes – Start writing! Write as fast as you can, no thinking, no plotting, No EDITING
  7. Time’s UP! Stop writing even if in the middle of a sentence.
  8. Flip to the next picture, look it over quickly – you should only have 60 seconds before starting the next round.
  9. Timer starts – Start Writing again! THREE MINUTES. This should be an independent scene or story idea from the first one you started, though if you’re an amazing prolific writer, you can connect the scenes….
  10. Repeat these writing sprints through your stack of images (should have 9 total).
  11. After the 9th scene is written, take turns READING aloud your story snippets to the group. You should read them straight through, pausing briefly between to give your partners time to jot down some thoughts on your work.
  12. After each writer has read aloud, offer your feedback. Feedback should remain positive  – think of it as writing a fan letter to your favorite author. These are all very rough drafts, remember.
  13. One more time, each writer reads aloud straight through all 9 snippets of their writing.
  14. This time, each writer will offer feedback based on:
  • How each scene made them feel
  • What genre they believe this scene would fall into
  • Ask what the author had in mind for the story plot and the ending
  • Which of the 9 was the strongest story

At the end of this fun, fast workshop, you will each have 9 story starts, a full tank of confidence and a better idea of your writer’s voice and the genre that you write the best.

Here are the pics my group used:

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Filed under Advice, Fiction, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, teaching, Voice, writers, Writing prompts

Teacher Tuesday: Tips for Writing Teachers

I decided to turn Tuesdays into the designated day when I offer tips for Creative Writing Teachers. Though, you don’ t have to be a teacher to benefit from these tips, prompts and exercises. You can be a student, a writer or a parent looking for new ways to inspire the love of writing in your home.

Weekly Themes with Writing  Skill Focus

(Originally Presented for: Downers Grove Library Young Writers’ Group)

  •  Your Biggest Adventure:  Scenes with mega action: Brave a roller coaster; compete in a stunt bike ride; experiences while on a camping/rafting trip; OR you are 50’ tall!

FOCUS:  Writing from your senses (what you feel, hear, taste, see, smell)


  • Scariest Story:  True or fantasy; nightmare or an urban legend

FOCUS:  Story pacing, building tension


  • Write Your Magical World:  Wizards, castles, witches, superheroes, shape shifters, demons, angels, fairies, aliens

FOCUS:  Metaphors and descriptive words, digging deeper


  • Nature – Friend or Foe?: You’re dropped in a thriving jungle or a grassland safari; you’re caught in a hurricane or tornado or meteor shower – how do you survive?

FOCUS:  Showing, not telling


  • The Biggest Prank:  Out of spite or just old-fashioned fun, but the prank goes terribly wrong

FOCUS:  Writing emotions, cause and effect


  • Metamorphosis:  You wake up a snake, a zebra, a tree or your pet dog (Kafka parody)

FOCUS:  Point of view


©Mary Jo Campbell

Share some of your teaching exercises and games!

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