Creative Writing Warm-Ups & Exercises

Instructor: Andrea Losa
Sometimes, finding the inspiration to tackle a creative writing assignment requires some pre-writing exercise. Use the following quick warm-ups to help your students jump-start their imaginations.

Tell a Story About a Picture

Develop a collection of interesting images from magazines, newspapers, or other sources. Start your class session by selecting an image to share with your students, and give them 10-15 minutes to develop a story that tells what is happening in the picture. Alternately, you can turn several images face-down on a desk and have each student select a picture at random.

Construct a Found Poem

Have your students spend a few minutes selecting and cutting out 2-3 ads from newspapers or magazines. If students prefer to use an article, ask that they not cut out any more than one page. Challenge them to develop their own found poems, using only words and phrases from the articles and/or ads.

Encourage students to learn more about the elements and types of poetry with this Poetry course. They can enjoy fun video lessons that make these poetry concepts easy to grasp and test their knowledge with chapter quizzes and a practice exam.

Tell the Story of a Poem

As a homework assignment, have your students pick out a poem to use for a writing exercise. The next day, begin class by having your students read over their poems and then spend 10-15 minutes writing a story about the poem. Ask them to imagine where and when the poem takes place, the character or characters involved in the poem, and what is taking place.

To help students generate ideas and learn more about creative writing, have your students check out this lesson on Literature-Based Creative Writing. You can also help students locate a poem that sparks their interest through the poetry lessons in these American and English literature courses.

Finding the Right Words

Have each of your students write three nouns (one person, one place, and one thing) and three adjectives down on small, individual sheets of paper. Put the parts of speech in two separate containers. Go around the class so each student can select two adjectives from the adjective container and two nouns from the noun container. Have them develop a brief story or poem that incorporates all four words.

Journal Exercises

Some teachers of English and writing like to begin each class with a 10- to 15-minute journal writing exercise. This daily practice helps reinforce writing skills and gives students an opportunity to mentally prepare for the day's writing work. Possible topics for journal writing include:

  • Tell where you would like to be ten years in the future.
  • Describe the first five things you would do if you just won the lottery.
  • What was the best day of your life? What was your worst?
  • What qualities make up a hero? Who is your hero?
  • What was the most difficult decision you had to make, and how did you reach your decision?

For additional information on journal writing and its benefits, and to find more journal writing topics, check out this lesson on Journal Writing.

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