Creative Writing - First Steps

You want to write creatively but aren't sure where to start? The best way to start writing is to just do it! So let's dive straight in with some warm-up exercises. You will need a timer.

Task 1

• Write for five minutes, answering the question: "Why do I want to write? What is motivating me?"

Task 2

• Write for five minutes on the subject: "What am I passionate about? What do I really care about in life?"

Task 3

• Take another five minutes and write a statement about what you want to achieve with your writing over the next ten years. What is your one-year milestone? Your five and ten-year milestones? Let your mind run with this one.

Well, that should have produced a few sentences! If you want to do more, carry on with the exercises that follow (choose your own time limit).
Otherwise, you can go to the section further down the page that talks about structuring your writing sessions.

Task 4 - Setting

• Think of a place that is significance to you - a childhood home, a favourite holiday spot, or a local cafĂ©. Describe this setting - the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere.

Task 5 - Character

• Choose a person you know well or someone you've observed in passing. Write about their physical appearance, personality, traits and habits.

Task 6 - Point of View

• Choose an everyday object as a prompt (eg a hoover, a pair of scissors, a TV remote) and write from its point of view. What is its life like? What might it complain about? What makes it happy?

Task 7 - Dialogue

• Write a short dialogue between two characters discussing a mundane topic, such as what to have for dinner or plans for the weekend. Try to make the conversation natural and engaging.

I hope those exercises gave you an overview of some of the elements involved in creative writing. You may or may not like what you produced - it doesn't matter. What matters is that you wrote!

Structuring your writing sessions

Create a Writing Space

• Set up a designated writing space where you can focus without distractions. It can be a corner of your home, a quiet cafe or a peaceful outdoor spot (or all three at different times.) The important thing is to minimise distractions and clutter.

Designate a Time

• Designate a time for writing. Put your phone on silent, let others know you shouldn't be disturbed during this time. Immerse yourself fully in your writing. It's OK to begin with small periods of time. Consistency is more important that duration - just make sure you turn up regularly!

Set goals for each session


• At the beginning of each session, it's a good idea to do a warm-up. Try some timed freewriting - writing without stopping and without censoring. Use a random prompt and write for ten minutes.

Sources for a freewriting prompt could include:
- generating a subject to write about with the Subject Generator
- generating some random words to write about: Random Words Generator
- generating a first line for a story with the First Line Prompt Generator
- choosing an exercise from the Random Exercises page.
- developing an idea from a previous exercise

Specific goal

• If and when you have a specific project in mind, set a goal to write a certain number of words or to complete a scene.


Vision Board

• Bring together the results of the first three exercises on this page - search for words, quotes and images that reflect both your reasons for writing and your passions. Arrange them on a vision board, preferably a physical one, so that you can see it every day. Include your milestones statement as well.

Author research

• Select a book that you really enjoyed reading. Read it again, this time more analytically.
- describe the style of the author. Is it formal or informal? Does it use descriptive or sparse prose. How well does it create vivid mental pictures?
- write down the underlying theme/s of the story.
- describe the plot structure. What is the overall story arc? What are the conflicts? Where is there noticeable tension? Where does pacing slow down and speed up? How is the story resolved?
- how are characters described/conveyed? How is the dialogue structured and how much is used?

Explore this site

• There are pages and pages of prompts and exercises to inspire you, as well as anagram games to help develop your vocabulary. Keep at it!