The Write Practice

100 Writing Practice Lessons & Exercises

by Joe Bunting | 50 comments

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Want to become a better writer? Perhaps you want to write novels, or maybe you just want to get better grades in your essay writing assignments , or maybe you'd like to start a popular blog .

If you want to write better, you need practice. But what does a writing practice actually look like? In this post, I'm going to give you everything you need to kick off your writing practice and become a better writer faster.

100 Top Writing Practice Lessons and Exercises

What Is Writing Practice?

Writing practice is a method of becoming a better writer that usually involves reading lessons about the writing process, using writing prompts, doing creative writing exercises , or finishing writing pieces, like essays, short stories , novels , or books . The best writing practice is deliberate, timed, and involves feedback.

How Do You Practice Writing?

This was the question I had when I first started The Write Practice in 2011. I knew how to practice a sport and how to practice playing an instrument. But for some reason, even after studying it in college, I wasn't sure how to practice writing.

I set out to create the best writing practice I could. The Write Practice is the result.

I found that the best writing practice has three aspects:

Deliberate . Writing whatever you feel like may be cathartic, but it's not an effective way to become a better writer or build your writing skills. You'll get better faster by practicing a specific technique or aspect of the writing process each time you sit down to write.

This is why we have a new lesson about the writing process each day on The Write Practice, followed by a practice prompt at the end so you can put what you learned to use immediately.

Timed . It's no secret writers struggle with focus. There are just too many interesting distractions—Facebook, email, Kim Kardashian's Instagram feed (just kidding about that last one, sort of)—and writing is just too hard sometimes.

Setting a timer, even for just fifteen minutes, is an easy and effective way to stay focused on what's important.

This is why in our writing practice prompt at the end of each post we have a time limit, usually with a link to an online tool egg timer , so you can focus on deliberate practice without getting distracted.

Feedback . Getting feedback is one of the requirements to deliberately practice writing or any other craft. Feedback can look like listening to the reactions of your readers or asking for constructive criticism from editors and other writers.

This is why we ask you to post your writing practice after each lesson, so that you can get feedback from other writers in The Write Practice community. It's also why we set up The Write Practice Pro community , to provide critique groups for writers to get feedback on each finished piece of writing.

How to practice writing

Our 100+ Best Creative Writing Practice Exercises and Lessons

Now that you know how we practice writing at The Write Practice, here are our best writing practice lessons to jumpstart your writing skills with some daily writing exercises, for beginner writers to even the most expert writers:

All-Time, Top 10 Writing Lessons and Exercises

These ten posts are our most viewed articles to boost your writing practice:

1. What is Plot? The 6 Elements of Plot and How to Use Them . Great stories use similar elements in wildly different ways to build page-turning stories. Click here to read what they are and learn how to start using them !

2. Top 100 Short Story Ideas . Here are over a hundred writing prompts in a variety of genres. If you need ideas for your next story, check this out!

3. How To Use Neither, Nor, Or, and Nor Correctly . Even good writers struggle figuring out when to use neither/nor and either/or. In this post, our copy-queen Liz Bureman settles the confusion once and for all. Click to continue to the writing exercise

4. Ten Secrets To Write Better Stories . How does Pixar manage to create such great stories, year after year? And how do you write a good story? In this post, I distill everything I've learned about how to write a good story into ten tips. Click to continue to the writing exercise

5. 35 Questions To Ask Your Characters From Marcel Proust . To get to know my characters better, I use a list of questions known as the Proust Questionnaire, made famous by French author, Marcel Proust. Click to continue to the writing exercise

6. How a Scene List Can Change Your Novel-Writing Life . Creating a scene list changed my novel-writing life, and doing the same will change yours too. Includes examples of the scene lists from famous authors. Click to continue to the writing exercise

7. Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma . Most people I've met have no idea what the Oxford comma is, but it's probably something that you have used frequently in your writing. Click to continue to the writing exercise

8. Six Surprising Ways to Write Better Interview Questions.  The interview is the most-used tool in a journalist's bag. But that doesn't mean novelists, bloggers, and even students can't and don't interview people. Here's how to conduct a great interview. Click to continue to the writing exercise

9. Why You Should Try Writing in Second Person . You've probably used first person and third person point-of-view already. But what about second person? This post explains three reasons why you should try writing from this point-of-view. Click to continue to the writing exercise

10. The Secret to Show, Don't Tell . You've heard the classic writing rule, “Show. Don't Tell.” Every writing blog ever has talked about it, and for good reason. Showing, for some reason, is really difficult. Click to continue to the writing exercise.

Book Idea Worksheet

12 Exercises and Lessons To Become a Better Writer

How do you become a better writer? These posts share our best advice:

  • Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words
  • What I Mean When I Say I Am A Writer
  • How to Become a Writer: 3 Simple Steps
  • 72% of Writers Struggle With THIS
  • 7 Lies About Becoming a Writer That You Probably Believe
  • 10 Questions to Find Your Unique Writing Voice
  • The Best Writing Book I’ve Ever Read
  • The Best Way to Become a Better Writer
  • The Creative Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Tools You Can’t Write Without
  • Should You Write More or Write Better: Quantity vs Quality
  • How to Become a Better Writer in One, Simple Step
  • 11 Writing Tips That Will Change Your Life

6 Lessons and Exercises from Great Writers

If you want to be a writer, learn from the great writers who have gone before you:

  • 23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing
  • 29 Quotes that Explain How to Become a Better Writer
  • 10 Lessons Dr. Seuss Can Teach Writers
  • 10 Writing Tips from Ursula Le Guin
  • Once Upon a Time: Pixar Prompt
  • All the Pretty Words: Writing In the Style of Cormac McCarthy

12 Genre and Format Specific Writing Lessons and Exercises

Here are our best writing lessons for specific types of writing, including essays, screenplays, memoir, short stories, children's books, and humor writing:

  • Writing an Essay? Here Are 10 Effective Tips
  • How To Write a Screenplay: The 5 Step Process
  • How to Write a Great Memoir: a Complete Guide
  • How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish
  • How to Write a Thriller Novel
  • How to Write a Children's Book
  • How to Write a Love Story
  • How to Write a Coming of Age Story or Book
  • How to Write an Adventure Book
  • 5 Key Elements for Successful Short Stories
  • 4 Tips to Write a Novel That Will Be Adapted Into a Movie
  • Humor Writing for People Who Aren’t Funny

14 Characterization Lessons and Exercises

Good characters are the foundation of good fiction. Here are our best lessons to create better characters:

  • Character Development: How to Create Characters Audiences Will Love
  • Writing Villains: 9 Evil Examples of the Villain Archetype
  • How NOT to Introduce a New Character
  • The Strongest Form of Characterization
  • The Most Important Character Archetype
  • How Do You Build A Strong Character In Your Writing?
  • 75+ Antihero Examples and How to Use Them
  • How to Explore Your Characters’ Motivations
  • 8 Tips for Naming Characters
  • The Protagonist: How to Center Your Story
  • Heroes vs. Anti-Heroes: Which Is Right For Your Story?
  • The Weakest Form of Characterization
  • How to Write With an Accent
  • How To Create a Character Sketch Using Scrivener

15 Grammar Lessons and Exercises

I talk to so many writers, some of whom are published authors, who struggle with grammar. Here are our best writing lessons on grammar:

  • Is It Okay To End A Sentence With A Preposition?
  • Contractions List: When To Use and When To Avoid
  • Good vs. Well
  • Connotation vs. Denotation
  • Per Se vs. Per Say
  • When You SHOULD Use Passive Voice
  • When Do You Use “Quotation Marks”
  • Polysyndeton and Asyndeton: Definition and Examples
  • The Case Against Twilight
  • Affect Versus Effect
  • Stop Saying “Literally”
  • What Is a Comma Splice? And Why Do Editors Hate Them?
  • Intra vs. Inter: Why No One Plays Intermural Sports
  • Alright and Alot: Words That Are Not Words
  • The Poor, Misunderstood Semicolon

4 Journalism Lessons and Exercises

Want to be a journalist? Or even use techniques from journalism to improve your novel, essay, or screenplay? Here are our best writing lessons on journalism:

  • Six Ways to Ask Better Questions In Interviews
  • How Should You Interview Someone? Over Email? In Person?
  • What If They Don’t Want to Talk to You?
  • Eleven Habits of a Highly Effective Interviewers

16 Plot and Structure Lessons and Exercises

Want to write a good story? Our top plot and structure lessons will help:

  • The Ten Types of Story and How to Master Them
  • Points of a Story: 6 Plot Points Every Story Needs
  • How to Shape a Story: The 6 Arcs
  • 7 Keys To Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel
  • The Secret to Creating Conflict
  • 4 Tips to Avoid Having Your Short Story Rejected by a Literary Magazine
  • 7 Steps to Creating Suspense
  • 5 Elements of Storytelling
  • 3 Important Rules for Writing Endings
  • A Writer’s Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure
  • Overcoming the Monster
  • How to Satisfy Your Reader With a Great Ending
  • Pow! Boom! Ka-Pow! 5 Tips to Write Fight Scenes
  • The Dramatic Question and Suspense in Fiction
  • How to Write a Memorable Beginning and Ending
  • How to Write the Perfect First Page

6 Lessons and Exercises to Beat Writer's Block

Writer's block is real, and it can completely derail your writing. Here are six lessons to get writing again:

  • How To Write Whether You Feel Like it Or Not
  • This Fun Creative Writing Exercise Will Change Your Life
  • When You Should Be Writing But Can't…
  • What to do When Your Word Count is Too Low
  • 7 Tricks to Write More with Less Willpower
  • When You Don’t Know What to Write, Write About Your Insecurities

7 Literary Technique Lessons and Exercises

These writing and storytelling techniques will teach you a few tricks of the trade you may not have discovered before:

  • 3 Tips to “Show, Don’t Tell” Emotions and Moods
  • 3 Reasons to Write Stream of Consciousness Narrative
  • 16 Observations About Real Dialogue
  • Intertextuality As A Literary Device
  • Why You Should Use Symbolism In Your Writing
  • 6 Ways to Evoke Emotion in Poetry and Prose
  • 3 Tips To Write Modern Allegorical Novels
  • Symbol vs. Motif: What’s the Difference

3 Inspirational Writing Lessons and Exercises

Need some inspiration? Here are three of our most inspiring posts:

  • Why We Write: Four Reasons
  • You Must Remember Every Scar
  • 17 Reasons to Write Something NOW

3 Publishing Blogging Lessons and Exercises

If you want to get published, these three lessons will help:

  • The Secret to Writing On Your Blog Every Day
  • How to Publish Your Book and Sell Your First 1,000 Copies
  • How to Get Published in Literary Magazines

11 Writing Prompts

Need inspiration or just a kick in the pants to write. Try one of our top writing prompts :

  • Grandfathers [writing prompt]
  • Out of Place [writing prompt]
  • Sleepless [writing prompt]
  • Longing [writing prompt]
  • Write About Yourself [writing prompt]
  • 3 Reasons You Should Write Ghost Stories
  • Road Trip [writing prompt]
  • Morning [writing prompt]
  • The Beach [writing prompt]
  • Fall [writing prompt]
  • How to Use Six-Word Stories As Writing Prompts

Is It Time To Begin Your Writing Practice?

It's clear that if you want to become a writer, you need to practice writing. We've created a proven process to practice your writing at The Write Practice, but even if you don't join our community, I hope you'll start practicing in some way today.

Personally, I waited  far  too long to start practicing and it set my writing back years.

How about you? Do you think practicing writing is important?  Let me know in the comments section .

Choose one of the writing practice posts above. Then, read the lesson and participate in the writing exercise, posting your work in the Pro Practice Workshop . And if you post, please give feedback to your fellow writers who also posted their practices.

Have fun and happy practicing!

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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You have THE BEST content for writing on this blog!!

Joe Bunting

Thank you, Kristen. This made my morning. 🙂

Mitch Hamilton

Thanks Mitch. 🙂

George McNeese

I can’t remember when I started following this website. I have to look in my notebooks because that’s where I did these practices. I didn’t have access to a computer when I did them, so I wrote them out, setting the time limit. But even when I do get to a computer, I have my reservations about putting my practices on the page. even though it’s practice, I want them to be the best, almost perfect. But I know it won’t be. I’ve gotten feedback before that says so. It still gets to me that I didn’t put something together that not everyone liked. I need to get over it. After all, that is what these practices are about: to learn and improve on our craft.

I don’t know either, George, but it’s been several years. Perfectionism is something so many of us face, and it’s made worse when you don’t have a critique community as warm and encouraging as ours is. I hope you and everyone here are always willing to try something new, even if it comes out a little messed up, because you know we’ll support you and try to make you better.

Elizabeth Varadan

What a great share! Thanks so much!

You’re so welcome, Elizabeth. Thank you for commenting.


when I ran writing classes I wrote. when I am “a member of writing classes” the teacher/leader/facilitator is NOT MY AUDIENCE and so I don’t write as well/as much. I don’t get the feedback I need from fellow students because most of them have never run their own writing projects/workshops. So many people expect you to write their story for them. I’ve actually got quite a few stories of me own. I have finally decided I like owning them. 😉

It sounds like you need a new critique group, Patience! Hope you can find a place where you get the feedback you need.

Stephanie Ward

Wow! Terrific round-up of resources. 🙂

Thanks Stephanie. 🙂

Carrie Lynn Lewis

Practice is necessary, period. It doesn’t matter what you want to learn. If you want to improve, practice is vital.

It’s odd. I’ve known and applied that principle for years on a variety of things. Painting. Drawing. Blogging. Gardening. Laundry.

But never writing.

Like you, I had the notion that just writing every day was all it took to improve. Why not the same level of dedication to writing?

Perhaps it’s time to change that!

I can relate, Carrie. It’s easy to confuse the craft of writing with journaling, thinking that you can just write whatever you feel like and you’ll get better, write something worth reading. The truth is that writing interesting things to read is a skill, but the good news is that you can get better at it with practice. Thanks for practicing with us! 🙂

Debra johnson

I love these suggestions , and have set Writing Practice as my homepage so the first 15 minutes of my day is spent writing, whether its a practice or exercise here or another that is sprinkled through out this site, Thank you for all you do everyone here at The Write Practice


This is great Debra. I want to write the first 15 minutes of my day too!

I agree with Joe, Do it. Could be your to do list… ( that could lead to something else story wse later)

I love that, Debra. Such a good way to start your day.

Thanks Joe!

Hyacinth Fidelis Joaquin

The best! Thank you so much for this.

You’re very welcome!

nobody geek

I simply LOVE all the tips and suggestions given on this blog. They are super helpful!

THANK you. We love sharing them with you. 🙂

Thiago d'Evecque

Hi! You forgot the link to How to Write a Story a Week: A Day-by-Day Guide.

Thanks a lot for your work! This post is amazing.

It’s a great post Thiago. Definitely one of our most shared. Thanks for mentioning it! BTW here’s the link:

Harsh Rathour

Wow!! There are so many exercises…. I just love it..! I am gonna really enjoy it..!

Awesome! Thank you for reading and practicing with us. 🙂

Macau Mum

I only read halfway , My tootie is jumping all over me, and typing this is a struggle when a 3yr old wants his Toy Story movie on Youtube in this computer. Thank you for this article, will come back later to finish reading.

I know the feeling! Good luck!


Can’t wait to get stuck in with this! 🙂

LaCresha Lawson

Very helpful! Thank you!


I’ve just bookmarked this page. Thanks for this wonderful list.


This is awesome! So many helpful tips. I will be coming back to this often. Thanks for posting this!

Jessica M

Wow, so many goodies! Thank you for always providing such amazing content!!

Jacqueline Nicole

I have enjoyed all these articles. Thank you for the help an inspiration to get my writing on its way. My creativity is boosting with confidence. Tootle loo.

Emmanuel Ajayi Adigun

Amazing contents for beginners like me Joe. I am highly inspired by your commitment. Thank you.

Hey, thanks!


Although I have only read half of thisc article, the practice exercises are excellent. Some of them are exactly what a beginning writer like myself needs. I am committing to at least try ALL of them. Thanks Joe!!

Kbee E. Betancourt

very helpful! thank you..

Celia Costa

Amazing articles! Thanks so much for sharing!

The Black Hearth

My god this article made me love this site . You know it’s kinda hard for a beginner writer, who don’t know where to start and fixing goals, even samll ones give us a direction . A place to go , an aim for our creativity so thanks you , this community and this site. Love you all . At your pens ! 😉


Wow. This is great. I find all your posts informative, but this one is the best for me to use as a guide to get my self starting to write….Thank you.


I’m an old lady who wants to publish one more book before I die — have published several, all non-fiction, and done two under contract to a major publisher (reference books). So help me, the BIGGEST problem I have all along, is keeping track of the damned paper work and research that goes into a book!!! Yet I never ever see articles on something as simple as “How to file” — Oh I know, there’s wonderful software these days so probably I will never find a way to get paper organized — everybody will use software and do it on the computer. I’m too old for that — just one look at the learning curve for software, even putting the damned stuff into computer files is even MORE frustrating than paper!! Oh well, somehow I managed in the past to get books published, I may be able to do it one more time.

Hamzah Ramadan

you enjoy writing more than anything else and you do indeed care to help others write. I love writing but translation from Arabic into English and English into Arabic is taking all of my time from the early hours of the morning till the evening. I will soon get all of your books in order to read them as soon as possible. One thing I am sure of. You know what you are doing very well. Hamzah


Excellent! Many useful tips. Many thanks!

Mark Bono

Liz and Joe, I have only looked at a few exercises. Already, I am convinced that your site is one of the best sites out there. Thank your for sharing your wisdom.

aparna WWeerakoon

Wow, these are the best lessons and exercises for writing. Actually i’m participating in a compitition this wendsday. so, i’m quite nervous and exited. this helped me a lot


Magnificent post ever I have read. This article will help me a lot to write a right way. Thank you.

Alexiss Anthonyy Murillo

i need your help to improve to become a better writer please. i think i usually commit moist of these errors and i don;t pay attention to many advices too.


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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In-Class Writing Exercises

If you find yourself wishing your students would write more thoughtful papers or think more deeply about the issues in your course, this handout may help you. At the Writing Center, we work one-on-one with thousands of student writers and find that giving them targeted writing tasks or exercises encourages them to problem-solve, generate, and communicate more fully on the page. You’ll find targeted exercises here and ways to adapt them for use in your course or with particular students.

Writing requires making choices. We can help students most by teaching them how to see and make choices when working with ideas. We can introduce students to a process of generating and sorting ideas by teaching them how to use exercises to build ideas. With an understanding of how to discover and arrange ideas, they will have more success in getting their ideas onto the page in clear prose.

Through critical thinking exercises, students move from a vague or felt sense about course material to a place where they can make explicit the choices about how words represent their ideas and how they might best arrange them. While some students may not recognize some of these activities as “writing,” they may see that doing this work will help them do the thinking that leads to easier, stronger papers.


In order to write a paper for a class, students need ways to move from the received knowledge of the course material to some separate, more synthesized or analyzed understanding of the course material. For some students this begins to happen internally or through what we call “thinking,” unvoiced mulling, sorting, comparing, speculating, applying, etc. that leads them to new perspectives, understanding, questions, reactions about the course material. This thinking is often furthered through class discussion and some students automatically, internally move from these initial sortings of ideas into complex, logical interpretations of material at this point. But, for more students, their thinking will remain an unorganized, vague set of ideas referring to the subject. Many will have trouble moving beyond this vague sense or simple reaction toward ideas that are more processed, complex, or what we often call “deep.” We can foster that move to a deeper understanding by providing opportunities to externalize and fix their ideas on paper so that they may both see their ideas and then begin to see the relationships between them. The following activities will help students both generate and clarify initial responses to course material:

  • Free-writing. Find a clock, watch, or timer to help you keep track of time. Choose a topic, idea, question you would like to consider. It can be a specific detail or a broad concept-whatever you are interested in exploring at the moment. Write (on paper or on a computer) for 7-10 minutes non-stop on that topic. If you get stuck and don’t know what to say next, write “I’m stuck and don’t know what to say next…” or try asking yourself “what else?” until another idea comes to you. Do not concern yourself with spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Your goal is to generate as much as you can about the topic in a short period of time and to get used to the feeling of articulating ideas on the page. It’s ok if it’s messy or makes sense only to you. You can repeat this exercise several times, using the same or a variety of topics connecting to your subject. Read what you have written to see if you have discovered anything about your subject or found a line of questioning you’d like to pursue.
  • Clustering/Webbing. Find a clock, watch, or timer to help you keep track of time. Put a word you’d like to explore in the center of a piece of paper and put a circle around it. As fast as you can, free-associate or jot down anywhere on the page as many words as you can think of associated with your center word. If you get stuck, go back to the center word and launch again. Speed is important and quantity is your goal. Don’t discount any word or phrase that comes to you, just put it down on the page. Jot words for between 5-10 minutes. When you are finished you will have a page filled with seemingly random words. Read around on the page and see if you have discovered anything or can see connections between any ideas.
  • Listing. On a piece of paper list all the ideas you can think of connected to subjects you are considering exploring. Consider any idea or observation as valid and worthy of listing. List quickly and then set your list aside for a few minutes. Come back and read your list and do the exercise again.
  • Cubing. This technique helps you look at your subject from six different points of view (imagine the 6 sides of a cube and you get the idea). Take your topic or idea and 1) describe it, 2) compare it, 3) associate it with something else you know, 4) analyze it (meaning break it into parts), 5) apply it to a situation you are familiar with, 6) argue for or against it. Write at a paragraph, page, or more about each of the six points of view on your subject.
  • Journalistic questions. Write these questions down the left hand margin of a piece of paper: Who? What? Where? When? How? And Why? Think about your topic in terms of each question.
  • What? So What? Now what? To begin to explore an idea first ask yourself, “What do I want to explore?” and write about that topic for a page or more. Then read what you have written and ask “So what?” of the ideas expressed so far. Again, write for a page or more. Finally ask yourself, “Now what?” to begin to think about what else you might consider or where you might go next with an idea.
  • Defining terms. Although this suggestion is simple and may seem obvious, it is often overlooked. Write definitions for key terms or concepts in your own words. Find others’ articulations of the terms in your course readings, the dictionary, or in conversations, and compare these definitions to your own. Seek input from your instructor if you can’t get a working definition of a term for yourself.
  • Summarizing positions. Sometimes it’s helpful to simply describe what you know as a way to solidify your own understanding of something before you try to analyze or synthesize new ideas. You can summarize readings by individual articles or you can combine what you think are like perspectives into a summary of a position. Try to be brief in your description of the readings. Write a paragraph or up to a page describing a reading or a position.
  • Metaphor writing. Metaphors or similes are comparisons sometimes using the words “like” or “as.” For example, “writing is like swimming” or the “sky is as blue as map water” or “the keyboard wrinkled with ideas.” When you create a metaphor, you put one idea in terms of another and thereby create a new vision of the original idea. Sometimes it may be easier to create a metaphor or simile may help you understand your view of an idea before you can put it fully into sentences or paragraphs. Write a metaphor or simile and then explain to someone why your metaphor works or what it means to you.
  • Applying ideas to personal circumstance or known situations. Sometimes ideas come clearest when you can put them in a frame that is meaningful to you. Take a concept from your reading assignments and apply it so a situation in your own life or to a current event with which you are familiar. You may not end up using this application in your final draft, but applying it to something you know will help you to understand it better and prepare you to analyze the idea as your instructor directs.

Once students have something on the page to work with, they can begin the decision-making process crucial to developing a coherent idea or argument. At this point, students will choose which ideas most appeal to them, which ideas seem to fit together, which ideas need to be set aside, and which ideas need further exploration. The following activities will help students make decisions as they shape ideas:

  • Drawing diagrams. Sometimes it helps to look for the shape your ideas seem to be taking as you develop them. Jot down your main ideas on the page and then see if you can connect them in some way. Do they form a square? A circle? An umbrella with spokes coming down? A pyramid? Does one idea seem to sit on a shelf above another idea? Would equal signs, greater or less signs help you express the relationships you see between your idea? Can you make a flow chart depicting the relationships between your ideas?
  • Making charts or piles. Try sorting your ideas into separate piles. You can do this literally by putting ideas on note cards or scraps of paper and physically moving them into different piles. You can do this on the page by cutting and pasting ideas into a variety of groups on the computer screen. You can also make charts that illustrate the relationships between ideas. Common charts include timelines, authors sitting around a dinner table, and comparison/contrast charts.
  • Scrap pile. Be prepared to keep a scrap pile of ideas somewhere as you work. Some people keep this pile as a separate document as they work; others keep notes at the bottom of a page where they store scrap sentences or thoughts for potential use later on. Remember that it is sometimes important to throw out ideas as a way to clarify and improve the ones you are trying to develop along the way.
  • Shifting viewpoints (role-playing). When you begin to feel you have some understanding of your idea, it sometimes helps to look at it from another person’s point of view. You can do this by role-playing someone who disagrees with your conclusions or who has a different set of assumptions about your subject. Make a list or write a dialogue to begin to reveal the other perspective.
  • Applying an idea to a new situation. If you have developed a working thesis, test it out by applying it to another event or situation. If you idea is clear, it will probably work again or you will find other supporting instances of your theory.
  • Problem/Solution writing. Sometimes it helps to look at your ideas through a problem-solving lens. To do so, first briefly outline the problem as you see it or define it. Make sure you are through in listing all the elements that contribute to the creation of the problem. Next, make a list of potential solutions. Remember there is likely to be more than one solution.
  • Theory/application writing. If your assignment asks you to develop a theory or an argument, abstract it from the situation at hand. Does your theory hold through the text? Would it apply to a new situation or can you think of a similar situation that works in the same way? Explain your ideas to a friend.
  • Defining critical questions. You may have lots of evidence or information and still feel uncertain what you should do with it or how you should write about it. Look at your evidence and see if you can find repeated information or a repeated missing piece. See if you can write a question or a series of questions that summarize the most important ideas in your paper. Once you have the critical questions, you can begin to organize your ideas around potential answers to the question.
  • Explaining/teaching idea to someone else. Sometimes the most efficient way to clarify your ideas is to explain them to someone else. The other person need not be knowledgeable about your subject-in fact it sometimes helps if they aren’t familiar with your topic-but should be willing to listen and interrupt you when he or she doesn’t follow you. As you teach your ideas to someone else, you may begin to have more confidence in the shape of your ideas or you may be able to identify the holes in your argument and be more able to fix them.
  • Lining up evidence. If you think you have a good idea of how something works, find evidence in your course material, through research in the library or on the web that supports your thinking. If your ideas are strong, you should find supporting evidence to corroborate your ideas.
  • Rewriting idea. Sometimes what helps most is rewriting an idea over the course of several days. Take the central idea and briefly explain it in a paragraph or two. The next day, without looking at the previous day’s writing, write a new paragraph explaining your ideas. Try it again the next day. Over the course of three days, you may find your ideas clarifying, complicating, or developing holes. In all cases, you will have a better idea of what you need to do next in writing your draft.

As students have been working with their ideas, they have been making a series of choices about their ideas that will lead them to feel “ready” to put them in a more complete, coherent form; they will feel “ready to write” their ideas in something closer to the assignment or paper form. But for most, the tough moments of really “writing” begin at this point. They may still feel that they “have ideas” but have trouble “getting them on the page.” Some will suddenly be thrust into “writing a paper” mode and be both constrained and guided by their assumptions about what an assignment asks them to do, what academic writing is, and what prior experience has taught them about writing for teachers. These exercises may ease their entry into shaping their ideas for an assignment:

  • Clarify all questions about the assignment. Before you begin writing a draft, make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the assignment requires. You can do this by summarizing your understanding of the assignment and emailing your summary to your TA or instructor. If you have questions about points to emphasize, the amount of evidence needed, etc. get clarification early. You might try writing something like, “I’ve summarized what I think I’m supposed to do in this paper, am I on the right track?
  • Write a letter describing what the paper is going to be about. One of the simplest, most efficient exercises you can do to sort through ideas is to write a letter to yourself about what you are planning to write in your paper. You might start out, “My paper is going to be about….” And go on to articulate what evidence you have to back up your ideas, what parts still feel rough to you about your ideas. In about 20 minutes, you can easily have a good sense of what you are ready to write and the problems you still need to solve in your paper.
  • Write a full draft. Sometimes you don’t know what you think until you see what you’ve said. Writing a full draft, even if you think the draft has problems, is sometimes important. You may find your thesis appears in your conclusion paragraph.
  • Turn your ideas into a five-minute speech. Pretend you have to give a 5 minute speech to your classmates. How would you begin the speech? What’s your main point? What key information would you include? How much detail do you need to give the listener? What evidence will be most convincing or compelling for your audience?
  • Make a sketch of the paper. Sometimes it helps to literally line up or order you evidence before you write. You can do so quickly by making a numbered list of your points. Your goal is something like a sketch outline—first I am going to say this; next I need to include this point; third I need to mention this idea. The ideas should flow logically from one point to the next. If they don’t-meaning if you have to backtrack, go on a tangent, or otherwise make the reader wait to see the relationship between ideas, then you need to continue tinkering with the list.
  • Make an outline. If you have successfully used formal outlines in the past, use one to structure your paper. If you haven’t successfully used outlines, don’t worry. Try some of the other techniques listed here to get your ideas on the page
  • Start with the easiest part. If you have trouble getting started on a draft, write what feels to you like the easiest part first. There’s nothing magic about starting at the beginning-unless that’s the easiest part for you. Write what you know for sure and a beginning will probably emerge as you write.
  • Write the body of the paper first. Sometimes it’s helpful NOT to write the beginning or introductory paragraph first. See what you have to say in the bulk of your draft and then go back to craft a suitable beginning.
  • Write about feelings about writing. Sometimes it’s helpful to begin a writing session by spending 5-10 minutes writing to yourself about your feelings about the assignment. Doing so can help you set aside uncertainty and frustration and help you get motivated to write your draft.
  • Write with the screen turned off. If you are really stuck getting starting or in the middle of a draft, turn the monitor off and type your ideas. Doing so will prevent you from editing and critiquing your writing as you first produce it. You may be amazed at the quantity and quality of ideas you can produce in a short time. You’ll have to do some cleanup on the typos, but it may be well worth it if it allows you to bang out a draft.
  • Write in alternatives (postpone decision-making). You may need to test out more than one idea before you settle into a particular direction for a paper. It’s actually more efficient to spend time writing in several directions i.e. trying out one idea for awhile, then trying out another idea, than it is to try to fit all of your ideas into one less coherent draft. Your writing may take the form of brief overviews that begin, “If I were going to write about XYZ idea, I would…” until you are able to see which option suits the assignment and your needs.
  • Write with a timer. Sometimes what you need most is to get all of your ideas out on paper in a single sitting. To do so, pretend you are taking an essay exam. Set a timer for an appropriate amount of time (1 hour? 3 hours?) depending on the length of your draft. Assume that it will take you approximately 1 hour per page of text you produce. Set a goal for the portion of your draft you must complete during the allotted time and don’t get up from your seat until the timer goes off.

As students use language to shape ideas, they begin to feel the need to test their ideas or move beyond their own perspectives. Sometimes we have ideas that make good sense to us, but seem to lose or confuse readers as we voice them in conversation or on the page. Once students have a complete draft of a paper, they need ways to share their ideas to learn points where their ideas need further development. With feedback from an audience, students are better able to see the final decisions they still need to make in order for their ideas to reach someone. These decisions may be ones of word choice, organization, logic, evidence, and tone. Keep in mind that this juncture can be unsettling for some students. Having made lots of major decisions in getting their ideas down on the page, they may be reluctant to tackle another round of decision-making required for revising or clarifying ideas or sentences. Remind students that ideas don’t exist apart from words, but in the words themselves. They will need to be able to sell their ideas through the words and arrangement of words on the page for a specific audience.

  • Talk your paper. Tell a friend what your paper is about. Pay attention to your explanation. Are all of the ideas you describe actually in the paper? Where did you start explaining your ideas? Does your paper match your description? Can the listener easily find all of the ideas you mention in your description?
  • Ask someone to read your paper out loud to you. Ask a friend to read your draft out loud to you. What do you hear? Where does your reader stumble? Sound confused? Have questions? Did your reader ever get lost in your text? Did ideas flow in the order the reader expected them to? Was anything missing for the reader? Did the reader need more information at any point?
  • Share your draft with your instructor. If you give them enough notice, most instructors will be willing to read a draft of a paper. It sometimes helps to include your own assessment of the draft when you share it with a teacher. Give them your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the draft, as you see it, to begin a conversation.
  • Share your draft with a classmate. Arrange to exchange papers with a classmate several days before the due date. You can do so via email and make comments for revision using Word’s comment function.
  • Look at your sentences. Often you will need to analyze your draft of the sentence level. To do so, break your paper into a series of discrete sentences by putting a return after each period or end punctuation. Once you have your paper as a list of sentences, you can more easily see and solve sentence level problems. Try reading the sentences starting with the last sentence of the draft and moving up. Doing so will take them out of context and force you to see them as individual bits of communication rather than familiar points.
  • Discuss key terms in your paper with someone else. After you have completed a draft, it’s sometimes helpful to look back at the key terms you are using to convey your ideas. It’s easy, in the midst of thinking about an idea, to write in loaded language or code in which certain key words come to have special meaning for you that isn’t necessarily shared by a reader. If you suspect this is the case, talk about your key terms with a friend, and ask them to read your draft to see if the idea is adequately explained for the reader.
  • Outline your draft. After you have a complete draft, go back and outline what you have said. Next to each paragraph write a word or phrase that summarizes the content of that paragraph. You might also look to see if you have topic sentences that convey the ideas of individual paragraphs. If you can’t summarize the content of a paragraph, you probably have multiple ideas in play in that paragraph that may need revising. Once you have summarized each paragraph, turn your summary words into a list. How does the list flow? Is it clear how one idea connects to the next?
  • Underline your main point. Highlight the main point of your paper. It should probably be (although it will depend on the assignment) in one sentence somewhere on the first page. If it’s not, the reader will likely be lost and wondering what you paper is about as he or she reads through it. Your draft should not read like a mystery novel in which the reader has to wait until the end to have all the pieces fit together.
  • Ask someone without knowledge of the course to read your paper. You can tell if your draft works by sharing it with someone outside of the context. If they can follow your ideas, someone inside the class will be able to as well.
  • Ask a reader to judge specific elements of your paper. Share your draft with someone and ask them to read for something specific i.e. organization, punctuation, transitions. A reader will give more specific feedback to you if you give them some specific direction.

Implementing exercises

Many of these exercises can be used in short in-class writing assignments, as part of group work, or as incremental steps in producing a paper. If you’ve assigned an end-of-semester term paper, you may want to assign one or two activities from each of the four stages-brainstorming, organizing, drafting, editing-at strategic points throughout the semester. You could also give the students the list of exercises for each stage and ask them to choose one or two activities to complete at each point as they produce a draft.

If you’d like to discuss how these exercises might work in your course, talk about other aspects of student writing, contact Kimberly Abels [email protected] at the Writing Center.

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Efficient Ways to Improve Student Writing

Strategies, Ideas, and Recommendations from the faculty Development Literature

General Strategies

  • View the improvement of students’ writing as your responsibility. Teaching writing is not only the job of the English department alone.  Writing is an essential tool for learning a discipline and helping students improve their writing skills is a responsibility for all faculty.
  • Let students know that you value good writing. Stress the importance of clear, thoughtful writing. Faculty who tell students that good writing will be rewarded and poor writing will be penalized receive better essays than instructors who don't make such demands. In the syllabus, on the first day, and throughout the term, remind students that they must make their best effort in expressing themselves on paper. Back up your statements with comments on early assignments that show you really mean it, and your students will respond.
  • Regularly assign brief writing exercises in your classes. To vary the pace of a lecture course, ask students to write a few minutes during class. Some mixture of in-class writing, outside writing assignments, and exams with open-ended questions will give students the practice they need to improve their skills.
  • Provide guidance throughout the writing process. After you have made the assignment, discuss the value of outlines and notes, explain how to select and narrow a topic, and critique the first draft, define plagiarism as well.
  • Don't feel as though you have to read and grade every piece of your students' writing. Ask students to analyze each other's work during class, or ask them to critique their work in small groups. Students will learn that they are writing in order to think more clearly, not obtain a grade. Keep in mind, you can collect students' papers and skim their work.
  • Find other faculty members who are trying to use writing more effectively in their courses. Pool ideas about ways in which writing can help students learn more about the subject matter. See if there is sufficient interest in your discipline to warrant drawing up guidelines. Students welcome handouts that give them specific instructions on how to write papers for a particular course or in a particular subject area.

Teaching Writing When You Are Not an English Teacher

  • Remind students that writing is a process that helps us clarify ideas. Tell students that writing is a way of learning, not an end in itself. Also let them know that writing is a complicated, messy, nonlinear process filled with false starts. Help them to identify the writer's key activities:
  • Developing ideas
  • Finding a focus and a thesis
  • Composing a draft
  • Getting feedback and comments from others
  • Revising the draft by expanding ideas, clarifying meaning, reorganizing
  • Presenting the finished work to readers
  • Explain that writing is hard work. Share with your class your own struggles in grappling with difficult topics. If they know that writing takes effort, they won't be discouraged by their own pace or progress. One faculty member shared with students their notebook that contained the chronology of one of his published articles: first ideas, successive drafts, submitted manuscript, reviewers' suggested changes, revised version, galley proofs, and published article.
  • Give students opportunities to talk about their writing. Students need to talk about papers in progress so that they can formulate their thoughts, generate ideas, and focus their topics. Take five or ten minutes of class time for students to read their writing to each other in small groups or pairs. It's important for students to hear what their peers have written.
  • Encourage students to revise their work. Provide formal steps for revision by asking students to submit first drafts of papers for your review or for peer critique. You can also give your students the option of revising and rewriting one assignment during the semester for a higher grade. Faculty report that 10 to 40 percent of the students take advantage of this option.
  • Explain thesis statements. A thesis statement makes an assertion about some issue. A common student problem is to write papers that present overviews of facts with no thesis statement or that have a diffuse thesis statement.
  • Stress clarity and specificity. The more the abstract and difficult the topic, the more concrete the student's language should be. Inflated language and academic jargon camouflage rather than clarify their point.
  • Explain the importance of grammar and sentence structure, as well as content. Students shouldn't think that English teachers are the only judges of grammar and style. Tell your students that you will be looking at both quality of their writing and the content.
  • Distribute bibliographies and tip sheets on good writing practices. Check with your English department or writing center to identify materials that can be easily distributed to students. Consider giving your students a bibliography of writing guides, for example:

Crews, F.C. Random House Handbook. (6th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992.

A classic comprehensive textbook for college students. Well written and well worth reading.

Lanham, R.A. Revising Prose . (3rd ed.) New York: Scribner's, 1991. Techniques for eliminating

bureaucratese and restoring energy to tired prose.

Tollefson, S. K. Grammar Grams and Grammar Grams II . New York: HarperCollins, 1989,

1992. Two short, witty guides that answer common questions about grammar, style, and usage. Both are fun to read.

  • Science and Engineering Barrass, R. Scientists Must Write. New York: Chapman and Hall, 1978. Biddle, A. W., and Bean, D. J. Writer's Guide: Life Sciences. Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1987.
  • Arts and Humanities Barnet, S. A Short Guide to Writing About Art . Boston: Little, Brown, 1989. Goldman, B. Reading and Writing in the Arts. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1978.
  • Social Sciences Biddle, A. W., Fulwiler, T., and Holland, K.M. Writer's Guide: Psychology . Lexington, Mass,:

Heath, 1987. McCloskey, D. N. The Writing of Economics . New York: Macmillan, 1987.

  • Ask a composition instructor to give a presentation to your students. Invite a guest speaker from the composition department or student learning center to talk to your students about effective writing and common writing problems. Faculty who have invited these experts report that such presentations reinforce the values of the importance of writing.
  • Let students know about available tutoring services. Individual or group tutoring in writing is available on most campuses. Ask someone from the tutoring center to give a demonstration in your class.
  • Use computers to help students write better. Locally developed and commercially available software are now being used by faculty to help students plan, write, and revise their written work. Some software available allows instructors to monitor students' work in progress and lets students collaborate with their classmates.

Assigning In-Class Writing Activities

  • Ask students to write what they know about a topic before you discuss it. Ask your students to write a brief summary of what they already know or what opinions they hold regarding the subject you are about to discuss. The purpose of this is to focus the students' attention, there is no need to collect the summaries.
  • Ask students to respond in writing to questions you pose during class. Prior to class starting, list two or three short-answer questions on the board and ask your students to write down their responses. Your questions might call for a review of material you have already discussed or recalling information from assigned readings.
  • Ask students to write from a pro or con position. When presenting an argument, stop and ask your students to write down all the reasons and evidence they can think of that supports one side or the other. These statements can be used as the basis for discussion.
  • During class, pause for a three-minute write. Periodically ask students to write freely for three minutes on a specific question or topic. They should write whatever pops into their mind without worrying about grammar, spelling, phrasing, or organization. This kind of free writing, according to writing experts, helps students synthesize diverse ideas and identify points they may not understand. There is no need to collect these exercises.
  • Have students write a brief summary at the end of class. At the end of the class period, give your students index cards to jot down the key themes, major points, or general principles of the day's discussion. You can easily collect the index cards and review them to see whether the class understood the discussion.
  • Have one student keep minutes to be read at the next class meeting. By taking minutes, students get a chance to develop their listening, synthesizing, and writing skills. Boris (1983) suggests the following:
  • Prepare your students by having everyone take careful notes for the class period, go home and rework them into minutes, and hand them in for comments. It can be the students' discretion whether the minutes are in outline or narrative form.
  • Decide on one to two good models to read or distribute to the class.
  • At the beginning of each of the following classes, assign one student to take minutes for the period.
  • Give a piece of carbon paper to the student who is taking minutes so that you can have a rough copy. The student then takes the original home and revises it in time to read it aloud at the next class meeting.
  • After the student has read their minutes, ask other students to comment on their accuracy and quality. If necessary, the student will revise the minutes and turn in two copies, one for grading and one for your files.
  • Structure small group discussion around a writing task. For example, have your students pick three words that are of major importance to the day's session. Ask your class to write freely for two to three minutes on just one of the words. Next, give the students five to ten minutes to meet in groups to share what they have written and generate questions to ask in class.
  • Use peer response groups. Divide your class into groups of three or four, no larger. Ask your students to bring to class enough copies of a rough draft of a paper for each person in their group. Give your students guidelines for critiquing the drafts. In any response task, the most important step is for the reader to note the part of the paper that is the strongest and describe to the writer why it worked so well. The following instructions can also be given to the reader:
  • State the main point of the paper in a single sentence
  • List the major subtopics
  • Identify confusing sections of the paper
  • Decide whether each section of the paper has enough detail, evidence, and information
  • Indicate whether the paper's points follow one another in sequence
  • Judge the appropriateness of the opening and concluding paragraphs
  • Identify the strengths of the paper

Written critiques done as homework are likely to be more thoughtful, but critiques may also be done during the class period.

  • Use read-around groups. Read-around groups are a technique used with short assignments (two to four pages) which allows everyone to read everyone else's paper. Divide the class into groups no larger than four students and divide the papers (coded for anonymity) into as many sets as there are groups. Give each group a set and ask the students to read each paper silently and decide on the best paper in the set. Each group should discuss their choices and come to a consensus on the best paper. The paper's code number is recorded by the group, and the same process is repeated with a new set of papers. After all the groups have read all the sets of papers, someone from each group writes on the board the code number from the best paper in each set. The recurring numbers are circled. Generally, one to three papers stand out.
  • Ask students to identify the characteristics of effective writing. After completing the read-around activity, ask your students to reconsider those papers which were voted as excellent by the entire class and to write down features that made each paper outstanding. Write their comments on the board, asking for elaboration and probing vague generalities. In pairs, the students discuss the comments on the board and try to put them into categories such as organization, awareness of audience, thoroughness of detail, etc. You might need to help your students arrange the characteristics into meaningful categories.

The Strategies, Ideas and Recommendations Here Come Primarily From:

Gross Davis, B. Tools for Teaching . San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1993.

And These Additional Sources…

Boris, E. Z. "Classroom Minutes: A Valuable Teaching Device." Improving College and

University Teaching, 1983,31(2), 70-73.

Elbow, P. "Using Writing to Teach Something Else." Unpublished paper, 1987.

Hawisher, G. E., and Selfe, C. L. (eds.). Critical Perspectives on Computers and

Composition Instruction.  New York:  Teachers College Press, 1989.

Holdstein, D. H., and Selfe, C. L. (eds.). Computers and Writing: Theory, Research,

Practice. New York: Modern Language Association, 1990.

Lowman, J. Mastering the Techniques of Teaching . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1984.

Petersen, B. T. "Additional Resources in the Practice of Writing Across the Disciplines."

In C. W. Griffin (ed.), Teaching Writing in All Disciplines . New Directions in Teaching and Learning, no. 12. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1982.

Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.

Bright Idea Network , 1989. (For information contact David Graf, Iowa State University, Ames.)

Pytlik, B. P. "Teaching Teachers of Writing: Workshops on Writing as a Collaborative

Process." College Teaching , 1989, 37(1), 12-14.

Tollefson, S. K. Encouraging Student Writing . Berkeley: Office of Educational

Development, University of California, 1988.

Walvoord, B. F. Helping Students Write Well: A Guide for Teachers in All Disciplines.

(2nd ed.) New York: Modern Language Association, 1986.

Watkins, B. T. "More and More Professors in Many Academic Disciplines Routinely

Require Students to Do Extensive Writing." Chronicle of Higher Education, 1990, 36(44), pp. A13-14, A16.

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The best writing exercises bring out our latent creativity. Especially if you ever feel stuck or blocked, making creative writing exercises part of your daily writing practice can be a great way to both hone your skills and explore new frontiers in your writing. Whether you’re a poet, essayist, storyteller, or genre-bending author, these free writing exercises will jumpstart your creative juices and improve your writing abilities.

24 of the Best Free Writing Exercises to Try Out Today

The best creative writing exercises will push you out of your comfort zone and get you to experiment with words. Language is your sandbox, so let’s build some sand castles with these exercises and writing prompts.

Write With Limitations

The English language is huge, complicated, and — quite frankly — chaotic. Writing with self-imposed limitations can help you create novel and inventive pieces.

What does “limitations” mean in this context? Basically, force yourself not to use certain words, descriptions, or figures of speech. Some writing exercises using limitations include the following:

  • Write without using adverbs or adjectives.
  • Write without using the passive voice – no “being verbs” whatsoever. (Also called “E-Prime” writing.)
  • Write a story without using a common letter –  just like Ernest Vincent Wright did .
  • Write a poem where each line has six words.
  • Write without using any pronouns.

Among exercises to improve writing skills, writing with limitations has the clearest benefits. This practice challenges your brain to think about language productively. Additionally, these limitations force you to use unconventional language – which, in turn, makes you write with lucidity, avidity, and invention.

Freewriting & Stream of Consciousness

What do you do when the words just don’t come out? How can you write better if you can’t seem to write at all? One of the best poetry exercises, as well as writing exercises in general, is to start your day by freewriting.

Freewriting, also known as “stream of consciousness writing,” involves writing your thoughts down the moment they come. There’s no filtering what you write, and no controlling what you think: topicality, style, and continuity are wholly unnecessary in the freewriting process. While the idea of freewriting seems easy, it’s much harder than you think – examining your thoughts without controlling them takes a while to master, and the impulse to control what you write isn’t easy to tame. Try these exercises to master the skill:

  • Do a timed freewrite. Start with five minutes.
  • Freewrite until you fill up the entirety of something – an envelope, a receipt, a postcard, etc.
  • Freewrite after meditating.
  • Freewrite off of the first word of today’s newspaper.

Among daily writing exercises, freewriting is one of the best writing exercises. Poets can use freewritten material as inspiration for their poetry. Prose writers can also find inspiration for future stories from the depths of their consciousnesses. Start your writing day with freewriting, and watch your creativity blossom.

Copy What You Read

Plagiarism is still off the table; however, you can learn a lot by paying attention to how other people write. This is what we call “reading like a writer.”

Reading like a writer means paying attention to the craft elements that make an excellent piece of literature work. Good writing requires different writing styles, figurative language, story structures, and/or poetry forms, as well as key word choice.

When you notice these craft elements, you can go ahead and emulate them in your own work. As a fiction writer , you might be drawn to the way Haruki Murakami weaves folklore into his stories, and decide to write a story like that yourself. Or, as a poet, you might be inspired by Terrance Hayes’ Golden Shovel form — enough so that you write a Golden Shovel yourself.

  • Read a favorite poem, and write your own poem in the same poetic form.
  • Blackout poetry: take another poem, cross out words you don’t want to use, circle words you do, and write a poem based on the circled words.
  • Copy a single sentence from a favorite novel, and write a short-short story with it.

Among free writing exercises, this is a great way to learn from the best. The best kinds of exercises to improve writing skills involve building upon the current canon of works — as Isaac Newton said, you achieve something great by “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Write From Different Perspectives

The conventional advice given to writers is to “write what you know.” We couldn’t disagree with that statement more. The best creative works force both the writer and the reader to consider new perspectives and learn something new; writing from a new point-of-view makes for a great exercise in expanding your creative limits.

Try these ideas as daily writing exercises:

  • Write a story with the same plot, but with two or more perspectives. For example, you could write a lover’s quarrel from two different view points.
  • Write from the point-of-view of a famous historical figure.
  • Write a story or poem from the perspective of an object: a statue, a doll, a roomba, etc.
  • Write from the perspective of a person you dislike.

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.

Thus, perspective writing also works as a poetry exercise and an essay writing practice exercise . If you’re stuck in your own head, try writing in someone else’s!

Write Metaphor Lists

All creative writers need figurative language. While metaphors, similes, and synecdoches are more prominent in poetry , prose writers need the power of metaphor to truly engross their reader. Among both exercises to improve writing skills and fun writing exercises for adults, writing metaphor lists is one of the best writing exercises out there.

A metaphor list is simple. On a notebook, create two columns. In one column, write down only concrete nouns. Things like a pillow, a tree, a cat, a cloud, and anything that can be perceived with one of the five senses.

In the other list, write down only abstract ideas. Things like love, hate, war, peace, justice, closure, and reconciliation — anything that is conceptual and cannot be directly perceived.

Now, choose a random noun and a random concept, and create a metaphor or simile with them. Delve into the metaphor and explain the comparison. For example, you might say “Love is like a pillow — it can comfort, or it can smother.”

Once you’ve mastered the metaphor list, you can try the following ideas to challenge yourself:

  • Create a coherent poem out of your metaphor list.
  • Turn your metaphor list into a short story.
  • Try making lists with a different figurative language device, such as personification, pathetic fallacy, or metonymy.

Any free creative writing exercise that focuses on figurative language can aid your writing immensely, as it helps writers add insight and emotionality to their work. This is an especially great creative writing exercise for beginners as they learn the elements of style and language.

Daily Journaling

Of course, the best way to improve your creative writing skills is simply to write every day. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to exercise your writing mind. By sitting down with your personal observations and writing without an agenda or audience, a daily writing practice  remains one of the best writing exercises , regardless of your genre or level of expertise.

Consider these ideas for your daily journal:

  • Track your mood and emotions throughout the day. Write those emotions in metaphor — avoid commonplace adjectives and nouns.
  • Write about your day from the second- or third-person.
  • Journal your day in verse. Use stanzas, line breaks, and figurative language.
  • Write about your day backwards.
  • Write about your day using Freytag’s pyramid . Build up to a meaningful climax, even if nothing significant seemed to happen today.

Learn more about keeping a journal here:

How to Start Journaling: Practical Advice on How to Journal Daily

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.

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Sean Glatch

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Thank you for this. I’ve been stuck for months—more than that, actually, and you’d think that a pandemic stay-at-home would be the perfect time to do some writing. But no. I’m as stuck as ever. In fact, the only time I seem able to write consistently and well is when I’m taking one of your classes! I’m still saving my pennies, but these exercises will hopefully get me writing in the meantime. Thanks again!

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Hi Kathy, I’m glad to hear some of these tips might spark your creativity 🙂 I feel the same way, I was hoping the stay-at-home order might spark some creativity, but we shouldn’t push ourselves too hard – especially in the midst of a crisis.

The best part about writing: all you have to do is try, and you’ve already succeeded. Good luck on your writing endeavors!

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Bravo….!What a great piece! Honestly I learnt a lot here!

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I picked interest in poetry just a week ago after reading a beautiful piece which captivated my mind into the world of writing. I’d love to write great poems but I don’t know anything about poetry, I need a coach, a motivator and an inspiration to be able to do this. This piece really helped me but I will appreciate some more tips and help from you or anyone else willing to help, I am really fervid about this.

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for your comment! I’m so excited for you to start your journey with poetry. We have more advice for poetry writing at the articles under this link:

Additionally, you might be interested in two of our upcoming poetry courses: Poetry Workshop and How to Craft a Poem .

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected] . Many thanks, and happy writing!

[…] 24 Best Writing Exercises to Become a Better Writer |  […]

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Hi, kinsey there. Thanks for giving information. it is a very informative blog and i appreciate your effort to write a blog I am also a writer and i like these type of blogs everyone takes more knowledge to check out my essay writing website

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As a writer, I often struggle to break free from the chains of writer’s block, but this blog has gifted me with a map of inspiration to navigate through those creative storms. It’s like being handed a box of enchanted writing exercises

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Intermediate College Writing: Building and Practicing Mindful Writing Skills

writing skills activities for college students

Dawn Atkinson, Butte, Montana

Stacey Corbitt, Butte, Montana

Copyright Year: 2022

Publisher: Montana Technological Unviersity

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.


Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Robert Watkins, Associate Professor of English, Idaho State University on 9/1/22

This book is both incredibly comprehensive (it has over 1,000 pages) and skeletal. While most elements of a typical first-year writing textbook exist within the massive tome, they aren't organized by rhetorical genre or traditional assignment... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This book is both incredibly comprehensive (it has over 1,000 pages) and skeletal. While most elements of a typical first-year writing textbook exist within the massive tome, they aren't organized by rhetorical genre or traditional assignment sequence. That said, the book contains many exercises and activities. Other information is covered on an incredibly detailed level and often repeated throughout multiple chapters (which can be useful or frustrating depending on the instructor's goals).

Content Accuracy rating: 4

The book doesn't seem to have any errors or troublesome approaches. The book could use an intensive editing job to make it more concise. The authors point out their purpose in the introduction, so the overwhelming length could be considered a feature if the first-year course also covers "cultivating study skills alongside effective academic and workplace writing skills" (4).

In other words, this book isn't just for FYC, but also covers study skills, academic skills, technical writing, business writing, and university communication. So the adapter should consider this when using the book.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

In many parts of the book, up-to-date theory and praxis is incorporated. It's mostly relevant material, but the organization (explained below) hurts some of the relevance.

Clarity rating: 4

Many parts of the book are explained in minute detail. Citation systems, APA in particular, are explained multiple times and in great detail. Other sections plow ahead under the seeming assumption the reader already knows the material. The way rhetoric is covered does both of these. Chapter 2, one of the stronger chapters, covers rhetorical genre nicely and guides the reader along. Chapter 1 seems to consider rhetoric as an afterthought with footnotes doing some of the heavy lifting. Once again, the book seems to be covering multiple courses within one book, so this might be excusable as the purpose seems more about letting users pick and choose their material as opposed to reading the whole book sequentially.

Consistency rating: 5

The book seems consistent overall in its definitions, applications, and approaches. The repetition and non-sequential placement of material is what's lowering this to a 4. Since so much of the book is dedicated to formatting and includes document design sections, the choice to underline some heading levels seemed strange.

Modularity rating: 3

Since the book is in PDF form, it gives the impression that the book should be consumed as a whole, not in parts. But the material within the chapters reads like they were written to be stand-alone section. By changing the format to be online instead of a PDF would allow the repetition of material to be more acceptable and make the organization make more sense.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

The organization is justified, but also seems to be rooted in a university-specific sequence. So much of what is covered in this book would be split among multiple courses at my own university. The chapters seem to include many elements that aren't necessarily traditionally part of what a comparable textbook chapter would offer. Many of the chapters seem to exist as stand-alone sections with material that is covered multiple times.

An example of what I mean is the first chapter, titled "Introducing College Writing" doesn't seem to be a traditional quick glance of the popular mixture of rhetorical situation and writing, but instead is a mini-textbook in itself, coming in at a whopping 87 pages. That's almost an entire textbook on its own. It includes assignment models of potential scaffolding ideas embedded right in the chapter. This seems to me like it would confuse readers more than help. Right from the start, almost twenty pages are dedicated to student examples before any definitions or justifications for the genres are given. While I like the inclusion of student models, including them from the beginning doesn't appeal to my teaching strategy. The chapter begins using terminology that is barely defined before being thrown around. An entire chapter on rhetoric and then writing would make more sense to me. The chapter dives into APA-specific explanations chapters ahead of where I would expect it too. Later in the book it has sections on choosing style guides (on page 351) but by that point it seems that the only option would be APA. The majority of the chapter seems dedicated to explaining APA too, which seems to indicate that the authors view formatting and citation guides as the main part of college writing.

Interface rating: 5

The PDF format isn't the best format for this book, but the interface works well enough.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

Edited well and reads cleanly.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

While it seems catered to the Montana Technological University and caters to that cultural particularly well, it also goes out of its way to address other cultural issues and writing strategies related to them.

Lots of solid material and I love the inclusion of models and examples based in student reality. The inclusion of university and study skills could be helpful for writing courses that cover those materials or study skills classes that also cover writing. I would consider using this book more for study skills and professional writing than first-year writing.

Condensing the book and organizing by most-important to least-important material would really help the book. More purposeful placement of examples would help. Moving the mode to fully online so specific sections could be shared would really be beneficial.

Table of Contents

  • Unit I: Exploring College Writing Fundamentals
  • Unit II: Writing Documents
  • Unit III: Attending to Design
  • Unit IV: Working with Sources
  • Unit V: Conducting Research
  • Unit VI: Employing Strategies for College Success
  • Unit VII: Producing Correspondence
  • Unit VIII: Producing Academic Writing
  • Unit IX: Refining Your Writing

Ancillary Material

About the book.

Welcome to Intermediate College Writing: Building and Practicing Mindful Writing Skills , an open textbook designed for use in university‐level courses that focus on cultivating study skills alongside effective academic and workplace writing skills. It offers a no‐cost alternative to commercial products, combining practical guidance with interactive exercises and thoughtfully designed writing opportunities.

This textbook’s modular design and ample coverage of topics and genres means that it can be used flexibly over semester‐long or stretch courses, allowing instructors and students to select the chapters that are most relevant for their needs. By blending new material with reviews of key topics, such as academic integrity, the chapters provide fresh perspectives on matters vital to the development of strong writing skills. The book adapts, builds upon, and expands material covered in our first open textbook, Mindful Technical Writing: An Introduction to the Fundamentals (Atkinson & Corbitt, 2021).

About the Contributors

Dawn Atkinson,  Montana Technological University

Stacey Corbitt, Montana Technological University

Contribute to this Page

  • Writing Activities

105 Creative Writing Exercises To Get You Writing Again

You know that feeling when you just don’t feel like writing? Sometimes you can’t even get a word down on paper. It’s the most frustrating thing ever to a writer, especially when you’re working towards a deadline. The good news is that we have a list of 105 creative writing exercises to help you get motivated and start writing again!

What are creative writing exercises?

Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don’t need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly. The whole idea is to just get you writing something, anything. The end result of these quick creative writing exercises is normally a series of notes, bullet points or ramblings that you can, later on, use as inspiration for a bigger piece of writing such as a story or a poem. 

Good creative writing exercises are short, quick and easy to complete. You shouldn’t need to think too much about your style of writing or how imaginative your notes are. Just write anything that comes to mind, and you’ll be on the road to improving your creative writing skills and beating writer’s block . 

Use the generator below to get a random creative writing exercise idea:

List of 105+ Creative Writing Exercises

Here are over 105 creative writing exercises to give your brain a workout and help those creative juices flow again:

  • Set a timer for 60 seconds. Now write down as many words or phrases that come to mind at that moment.
  • Pick any colour you like. Now start your sentence with this colour. For example, Orange, the colour of my favourite top. 
  • Open a book or dictionary on a random page. Pick a random word. You can close your eyes and slowly move your finger across the page. Now, write a paragraph with this random word in it. You can even use an online dictionary to get random words:


  • Create your own alphabet picture book or list. It can be A to Z of animals, food, monsters or anything else you like!
  • Using only the sense of smell, describe where you are right now.
  • Take a snack break. While eating your snack write down the exact taste of that food. The goal of this creative writing exercise is to make your readers savour this food as well.
  • Pick a random object in your room and write a short paragraph from its point of view. For example, how does your pencil feel? What if your lamp had feelings?
  • Describe your dream house. Where would you live one day? Is it huge or tiny? 
  • Pick two different TV shows, movies or books that you like. Now swap the main character. What if Supergirl was in Twilight? What if SpongeBob SquarePants was in The Flash? Write a short scene using this character swap as inspiration.
  • What’s your favourite video game? Write at least 10 tips for playing this game.
  • Pick your favourite hobby or sport. Now pretend an alien has just landed on Earth and you need to teach it this hobby or sport. Write at least ten tips on how you would teach this alien.
  • Use a random image generator and write a paragraph about the first picture you see.

random image generator

  • Write a letter to your favourite celebrity or character. What inspires you most about them? Can you think of a memorable moment where this person’s life affected yours? We have this helpful guide on writing a letter to your best friend for extra inspiration.
  • Write down at least 10 benefits of writing. This can help motivate you and beat writer’s block.
  • Complete this sentence in 10 different ways: Patrick waited for the school bus and…
  • Pick up a random book from your bookshelf and go to page 9. Find the ninth sentence on that page. Use this sentence as a story starter.
  • Create a character profile based on all the traits that you hate. It might help to list down all the traits first and then work on describing the character.
  • What is the scariest or most dangerous situation you have ever been in? Why was this situation scary? How did you cope at that moment?
  • Pretend that you’re a chat show host and you’re interviewing your favourite celebrity. Write down the script for this conversation.
  • Using extreme detail, write down what you have been doing for the past one hour today. Think about your thoughts, feelings and actions during this time.
  • Make a list of potential character names for your next story. You can use a fantasy name generator to help you.
  • Describe a futuristic setting. What do you think the world would look like in 100 years time?
  • Think about a recent argument you had with someone. Would you change anything about it? How would you resolve an argument in the future?
  • Describe a fantasy world. What kind of creatures live in this world? What is the climate like? What everyday challenges would a typical citizen of this world face? You can use this fantasy world name generator for inspiration.
  • At the flip of a switch, you turn into a dragon. What kind of dragon would you be? Describe your appearance, special abilities, likes and dislikes. You can use a dragon name generator to give yourself a cool dragon name.
  • Pick your favourite book or a famous story. Now change the point of view. For example, you could rewrite the fairytale , Cinderella. This time around, Prince Charming could be the main character. What do you think Prince Charming was doing, while Cinderella was cleaning the floors and getting ready for the ball?
  • Pick a random writing prompt and use it to write a short story. Check out this collection of over 300 writing prompts for kids to inspire you. 
  • Write a shopping list for a famous character in history. Imagine if you were Albert Einstein’s assistant, what kind of things would he shop for on a weekly basis?
  • Create a fake advertisement poster for a random object that is near you right now. Your goal is to convince the reader to buy this object from you.
  • What is the worst (or most annoying) sound that you can imagine? Describe this sound in great detail, so your reader can understand the pain you feel when hearing this sound.
  • What is your favourite song at the moment? Pick one line from this song and describe a moment in your life that relates to this line.
  •  You’re hosting an imaginary dinner party at your house. Create a list of people you would invite, and some party invites. Think about the theme of the dinner party, the food you will serve and entertainment for the evening. 
  • You are waiting to see your dentist in the waiting room. Write down every thought you are having at this moment in time. 
  • Make a list of your greatest fears. Try to think of at least three fears. Now write a short story about a character who is forced to confront one of these fears. 
  • Create a ‘Wanted’ poster for a famous villain of your choice. Think about the crimes they have committed, and the reward you will give for having them caught. 
  • Imagine you are a journalist for the ‘Imagine Forest Times’ newspaper. Your task is to get an exclusive interview with the most famous villain of all time. Pick a villain of your choice and interview them for your newspaper article. What questions would you ask them, and what would their responses be?
  •  In a school playground, you see the school bully hurting a new kid. Write three short stories, one from each perspective in this scenario (The bully, the witness and the kid getting bullied).
  • You just won $10 million dollars. What would you spend this money on?
  • Pick a random animal, and research at least five interesting facts about this animal. Write a short story centred around one of these interesting facts. 
  • Pick a global issue that you are passionate about. This could be climate change, black lives matters, women’s rights etc. Now create a campaign poster for this global issue. 
  • Write an acrostic poem about an object near you right now (or even your own name). You could use a poetry idea generator to inspire you.
  • Imagine you are the head chef of a 5-star restaurant. Recently the business has slowed down. Your task is to come up with a brand-new menu to excite customers. Watch this video prompt on YouTube to inspire you.
  • What is your favourite food of all time? Imagine if this piece of food was alive, what would it say to you?
  • If life was one big musical, what would you be singing about right now? Write the lyrics of your song. 
  • Create and describe the most ultimate villain of all time. What would their traits be? What would their past look like? Will they have any positive traits?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: Every time I look out of the window, I…
  • You have just made it into the local newspaper, but what for? Write down at least five potential newspaper headlines . Here’s an example, Local Boy Survives a Deadly Illness.
  • If you were a witch or a wizard, what would your specialist area be and why? You might want to use a Harry Potter name generator or a witch name generator for inspiration.
  • What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday night? Write a short story centred around this activity. 
  • Your main character has just received the following items: A highlighter, a red cap, a teddy bear and a fork. What would your character do with these items? Can you write a story using these items? 
  • Create a timeline of your own life, from birth to this current moment. Think about the key events in your life, such as birthdays, graduations, weddings and so on. After you have done this, you can pick one key event from your life to write a story about. 
  • Think of a famous book or movie you like. Rewrite a scene from this book or movie, where the main character is an outsider. They watch the key events play out, but have no role in the story. What would their actions be? How would they react?
  • Three very different characters have just won the lottery. Write a script for each character, as they reveal the big news to their best friend.  
  • Write a day in the life story of three different characters. How does each character start their day? What do they do throughout the day? And how does their day end?
  •  Write about the worst experience in your life so far. Think about a time when you were most upset or angry and describe it. 
  • Imagine you’ve found a time machine in your house. What year would you travel to and why?
  • Describe your own superhero. Think about their appearance, special abilities and their superhero name. Will they have a secret identity? Who is their number one enemy?
  • What is your favourite country in the world? Research five fun facts about this country and use one to write a short story. 
  • Set yourself at least three writing goals. This could be a good way to motivate yourself to write every day. For example, one goal might be to write at least 150 words a day. 
  • Create a character description based on the one fact, three fiction rule. Think about one fact or truth about yourself. And then add in three fictional or fantasy elements. For example, your character could be the same age as you in real life, this is your one fact. And the three fictional elements could be they have the ability to fly, talk in over 100 different languages and have green skin. 
  • Describe the perfect person. What traits would they have? Think about their appearance, their interests and their dislikes. 
  • Keep a daily journal or diary. This is a great way to keep writing every day. There are lots of things you can write about in your journal, such as you can write about the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of your day. Think about anything that inspired you or anything that upset you, or just write anything that comes to mind at the moment. 
  • Write a book review or a movie review. If you’re lost for inspiration, just watch a random movie or read any book that you can find. Then write a critical review on it. Think about the best parts of the book/movie and the worst parts. How would you improve the book or movie?
  • Write down a conversation between yourself. You can imagine talking to your younger self or future self (i.e. in 10 years’ time). What would you tell them? Are there any lessons you learned or warnings you need to give? Maybe you could talk about what your life is like now and compare it to their life?
  • Try writing some quick flash fiction stories . Flash fiction is normally around 500 words long, so try to stay within this limit.
  • Write a six-word story about something that happened to you today or yesterday. A six-word story is basically an entire story told in just six words. Take for example: “Another football game ruined by me.” or “A dog’s painting sold for millions.” – Six-word stories are similar to writing newspaper headlines. The goal is to summarise your story in just six words. 
  • The most common monsters or creatures used in stories include vampires, werewolves , dragons, the bigfoot, sirens and the loch-ness monster. In a battle of intelligence, who do you think will win and why?
  • Think about an important event in your life that has happened so far, such as a birthday or the birth of a new sibling. Now using the 5 W’s and 1 H technique describe this event in great detail. The 5 W’s include: What, Who, Where, Why, When and the 1 H is: How. Ask yourself questions about the event, such as what exactly happened on that day? Who was there? Why was this event important? When and where did it happen? And finally, how did it make you feel?
  • Pretend to be someone else. Think about someone important in your life. Now put yourself into their shoes, and write a day in the life story about being them. What do you think they do on a daily basis? What situations would they encounter? How would they feel?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: I remember…
  • Write about your dream holiday. Where would you go? Who would you go with? And what kind of activities would you do?
  • Which one item in your house do you use the most? Is it the television, computer, mobile phone, the sofa or the microwave? Now write a story of how this item was invented. You might want to do some research online and use these ideas to build up your story. 
  • In exactly 100 words, describe your bedroom. Try not to go over or under this word limit.
  • Make a top ten list of your favourite animals. Based on this list create your own animal fact file, where you provide fun facts about each animal in your list.
  • What is your favourite scene from a book or a movie? Write down this scene. Now rewrite the scene in a different genre, such as horror, comedy, drama etc.
  •  Change the main character of a story you recently read into a villain. For example, you could take a popular fairytale such as Jack and the Beanstalk, but this time re-write the story to make Jack the villain of the tale.
  • Complete the following sentence in at least 10 different ways: Do you ever wonder…
  • What does your name mean? Research the meaning of your own name, or a name that interests you. Then use this as inspiration for your next story. For example, the name ‘Marty’ means “Servant Of Mars, God Of War”. This could make a good concept for a sci-fi story.
  • Make a list of three different types of heroes (or main characters) for potential future stories.
  • If someone gave you $10 dollars, what would you spend it on and why?
  • Describe the world’s most boring character in at least 100 words. 
  • What is the biggest problem in the world today, and how can you help fix this issue?
  • Create your own travel brochure for your hometown. Think about why tourists might want to visit your hometown. What is your town’s history? What kind of activities can you do? You could even research some interesting facts. 
  • Make a list of all your favourite moments or memories in your life. Now pick one to write a short story about.
  • Describe the scariest and ugliest monster you can imagine. You could even draw a picture of this monster with your description.
  • Write seven haikus, one for each colour of the rainbow. That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. 
  • Imagine you are at the supermarket. Write down at least three funny scenarios that could happen to you at the supermarket. Use one for your next short story. 
  • Imagine your main character is at home staring at a photograph. Write the saddest scene possible. Your goal is to make your reader cry when reading this scene. 
  • What is happiness? In at least 150 words describe the feeling of happiness. You could use examples from your own life of when you felt happy.
  • Think of a recent nightmare you had and write down everything you can remember. Use this nightmare as inspiration for your next story.
  • Keep a dream journal. Every time you wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning you can quickly jot down things that you remember from your dreams. These notes can then be used as inspiration for a short story. 
  • Your main character is having a really bad day. Describe this bad day and the series of events they experience. What’s the worst thing that could happen to your character?
  • You find a box on your doorstep. You open this box and see the most amazing thing ever. Describe this amazing thing to your readers.
  • Make a list of at least five possible settings or locations for future stories. Remember to describe each setting in detail.
  • Think of something new you recently learned. Write this down. Now write a short story where your main character also learns the same thing.
  • Describe the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life. Your goal is to amaze your readers with its beauty. 
  • Make a list of things that make you happy or cheer you up. Try to think of at least five ideas. Now imagine living in a world where all these things were banned or against the law. Use this as inspiration for your next story.
  • Would you rather be rich and alone or poor and very popular? Write a story based on the lives of these two characters. 
  • Imagine your main character is a Librarian. Write down at least three dark secrets they might have. Remember, the best secrets are always unexpected.
  • There’s a history behind everything. Describe the history of your house. How and when was your house built? Think about the land it was built on and the people that may have lived here long before you.
  • Imagine that you are the king or queen of a beautiful kingdom. Describe your kingdom in great detail. What kind of rules would you have? Would you be a kind ruler or an evil ruler of the kingdom?
  • Make a wish list of at least three objects you wish you owned right now. Now use these three items in your next story. At least one of them must be the main prop in the story.
  • Using nothing but the sense of taste, describe a nice Sunday afternoon at your house. Remember you can’t use your other senses (i.e see, hear, smell or touch) in this description. 
  • What’s the worst pain you felt in your life? Describe this pain in great detail, so your readers can also feel it.
  • If you were lost on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, what three must-have things would you pack and why?
  • Particpate in online writing challenges or contests. Here at Imagine Forest, we offer daily writing challenges with a new prompt added every day to inspire you. Check out our challenges section in the menu.

Do you have any more fun creative writing exercises to share? Let us know in the comments below!

creative writing exercises

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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9 tips for improving your college writing skills.


Writing is an underappreciated skill that will probably be more useful in your career than you realize. College is the best time to sharpen your writing skills, so here are ten ways you can improve the way you write your assignments and dissertations.

  • Focus on the topic

The best writers know how to focus on the topic and tie in different thoughts and ideas to make their point. If you’re writing an essay on fashion journalism, for example, you could use your knowledge about internet marketing and the cotton industry to make a clear and concise point about the way journalism has evolved over the years.

  • Keep it simple

Keep your write-ups short and simple. Every assignment you get in college will probably come with a word count limit. While some writers struggle to meet the word count, others go way over the limit. The key to writing well is to stay as close to the word count as possible. Make your pieces relevant and informational without getting boring.

  • Find a writing spot

Silence is key. While people can work and study in a noisy environment, almost no one can write in it. You need to find the college library or a quiet spot on campus to write your important pieces.

  • Talk to the audience

Always keep the reader in mind while you’re writing. It helps to use the professor’s own lecture notes while writing an assigned essay, because it helps you tailor the piece for them.

No matter how good a writer you think you are, you always need to proofread your work. Even a quick glance over the finished draft will help you weed out a few silly mistakes. Use an online grammar checker and a plagiarism checker to make sure the work is error-free and completely original.

  • Get someone else to proofread

Proofreading yourself is fine, but it’s rarely enough. Get someone else to look at your work and they’ll find problems you would have missed completely.

  • Master Google research

Google is bound to be your best friend at college. Every piece of data or authoritative source you find will come through an in depth online search. Learn how to use Google effectively and you’ll end up with better data and information than your peers.

  • Style Guides

MLA or APA styles are going to take a lot of time to master, but your college probably prefers one over the other for all your work. You need to go over the specific style guide your college requests to make sure the format is correct.

Like math, writing is a skill that develops over time. A ton of practice and regular writing can help you churn out quality work by the end of the semester.

These nine tips can help you boost your writing skills and deliver top-notch assignments throughout the semester. But writing is a skill that will help you throughout your career. So, take the time to master it now.

Bio: Marcus Danielson is a traveler and world-citizen,who believes in the power of education and enjoys spreading it. He also takes pleasure in reading, watching old movies, and taking pictures.

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How to Cultivate Confident Writers Through Daily Practice

A consistent writing activity gives students the opportunity to practice a skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Photo of high school students writing in classroom

“I am not a writer.” These are powerful words that I’ve heard in every class that I’ve ever taught in my almost 15-year career. How can teachers battle years of insecurity and the lack of self-confidence that students have in regard to their writing identity? Writing is a crucial skill for learners in a classroom, but students often lack confidence in themselves as writers to produce content.

Teachers also struggle with getting students to write “enough,” if they even write at all, because students often misuse the time they’re given to write by finding excuses to leave the classroom or talk with their classmates, which in turn disturbs the whole class. In my experience teaching, students misuse time when content isn’t relevant or when they don’t have confidence in the task at hand. It is emotionally easier to just not do the assignment than to attempt it and fail. 

I was inspired to tackle this issue with the students in my classroom by Kelly Gallagher’s work with his students . Gallagher is an influential teacher who shares strategies to revolutionize the teaching of reading and writing in the classroom . He encourages daily writing to increase students’ volume of writing, for the opportunity to practice the skill, and to build confidence in their abilities as writers.

Construct the Writing Time

I implemented a daily writing prompt in my two college-prep English classes (one for 11th grade and one for 12th grade). This 10-minute writing time was implemented at the beginning of the school year and is now a normal activity that students expect every day. After a short bell-ringer activity upon entry into the room, the students get out their writing notebooks, I read the prompt and then start a digital 10-minute timer on the screen, and students begin writing.

Students are given a different writing prompt each day; some writing prompts are connected to our topics of study, and some are random. I also give my students the opportunity to free-write; if they can’t find a connection to the given writing prompt, they can write about anything of interest. 

Getting Comfortable to Write

Students can sit wherever they want in class, but especially during writing time. I’m a believer in flexible seating , as I feel that comfort is most important in engaging students to learn. Students can listen to their music or watch a show on their phones as they write. Part of the rationale behind this thinking is that students need to discover what helps them best to write—is it silence, do they need background noise, etc.? I do have a stipulation that “writing time is quiet time.” I should get a tattoo of this phrase because I say it so often. 

I emphasize that students should respect other people’s time to write by being quiet. Another requirement of writing time is that students use pencil or pen and paper only. Students may not type their responses. Gallagher expressed that this was crucial in his daily writing practice with students. It’s important for students to physically connect with what they’re writing. There are also studies that note that students retain information better when they handwrite rather than typing .  

Students may choose not to write, which my classes termed “taking the L.” If they have homework for another class, have an upcoming assignment, are watching a game film for sports, or just need a break, students can make that choice. In my own research study for my dissertation, I found that when students are given the choice in their learning, they are intrinsically motivated to learn; they were more invested in the writing when they were given the choice not to write if they weren’t inspired. 

Students Guide the Assessment Process 

I allow students to choose which writing pieces I assess. I grade them three times for a “check-in” (every five to six weeks) and assess them with a cumulative look at the end of the semester. Assessment feedback is like a conversation with the check-ins—a conversation between me and the student. The semester assessment has more formal feedback. If the students improve in their writing, I go back and change their previous grades to acknowledge the growth. I don’t focus on grammar and spelling, only content (per Gallagher). 

So, what did I notice in my assessment and observations of student writing? Learning and productivity look different for each individual student. What did writing physically look like? Students were physically seated comfortably, and most students were using earbuds. There were slow writers and fast writers. What did “taking the L” look like? Students who chose not to write were usually sleeping on their phone or working on other work. This is a layered practice. Learning can’t be forced. If someone needs the rest, they can take it. I always monitor, and if it’s a habit, I have a conversation with the student and I let their parents know.

Students were the most productive in their writing that I’ve ever seen in my career. The writing took on different forms. One student drew a lot; he created artwork in his notebook followed by interesting stories. Students whom I’ve taught in previous years that I would not have considered gifted writers were filling their pages with content. It was the quickest I had seen improvement in my students.

Data Tells a Story  

Throughout the daily writing practice, I keep formal and informal data. I want to see the “story” of the data—how did my students feel about writing every day? I formally collect data through the use of reflective Google Forms after students write. The informal data is collected through my own writing (sometimes following the prompt or free-writing), reflection, and notes. When reviewing the data, I look for commonalities and connections in the student responses—the story that the data tells me about students’ experiences in writing. 

Three stories from my students became clear: improvement , confidence , and connection . Many students noted significant improvement in their writing: “I have improved my writing” and “I can write for longer and I always have something to say.” They also had more confidence in their writing: “I have improved on my content and confidence in writing,” and “I try to explain myself more instead of using short sentences.” 

To me, the most meaningful story is connection —students are engaged in class and the writing process. Statements like “I leave a little of myself in my writing,” “It gives me time to think,” and “We practice writing in the best possible way, through our own experience” highlight the fact that students are connecting with writing, which increases the relevance of their learning.

Daily Writing Practice Improves Perspective

Reading and writing are the pillars of an English class—why wouldn’t we be practicing these skills daily? Through this activity, students experience a stress-free opportunity to practice a skill that benefits them throughout their future lives. Students shift from an insecure perspective of “I’m not a writer” to a confident one: “What am I going to write next?”

Writing Center Writing Activities for Online Learning

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Below are some ways to bring writing into your online classroom. These activities can help prepare students for formal, graded writing assignments, provide continuity and engagement with course content and the classroom community, and offer students ways of using writing as a tool for thinking. 

Please contact the Writing Center to discuss how to implement these and other writing activities either synchronously or asynchronously. Associates can also join your class virtually to lead workshops based on these activities.

Writing to Think Through Content

Short, directed writing activities can help students think through what they’re reading, learning about, and hearing in class discussion. These activities can be informal and one-off or more formalized and regularly occurring. They can also occur synchronously (during a class Zoom session, for instance) or asynchronously (students work at their own pace and send via email or post to Moodle).

Consider using writing-to-learn activities as no-stakes or low-stakes assignments . Students can be told that they will receive no or minimal feedback, or they can be asked to give feedback to one another via Moodle, which you can check but not respond to.

Questions for Class Discussion 

Ask students to pull a quote from one of the readings, then explain, in writing, why it is compelling, and then pose a question to the class about it. 

  • As an asynchronous activity: Ask students to post and respond to questions in a Moodle forum.
  • As a synchronous activity: Ask students to lead a discussion based on these questions, and share their written document with the class using Remote Control on Zoom. 

Guided Reading

Provide students with questions to answer before or after an assigned reading through fastwriting . These questions can be broad or narrow, depending on your goals, but they should be open-ended. Guided reading questions do not need to be shared; they work well simply to prepare students for class discussion. But, they can also easily be shared in the following ways:

  • As an asynchronous activity: Students can post responses to reading questions on Moodle and respond to one another’s writing in pairs or small groups. This could be a standalone activity or it could be preparation for a synchronous class discussion. 
  • As a synchronous activity: Students prepare their responses for class, and then are placed in breakout rooms on Zoom to discuss. Remember that breakout rooms allow you to pop in and out to listen to discussions.

Reading Journals 

Ask students to keep a reading journal in which they respond to readings/class discussions. Entries can be general reactions to readings or responses to specific questions that you pose or that students post to Moodle in advance. Journals could be kept in Google docs that can be shared with you. Again, only minimal feedback (e.g., a check mark, one comment on a compelling idea) is needed.

Writing to Gauge Comprehension

Written check-ins are a great way to quickly gauge students’ thinking. These check-in prompts can be simple and general, such as “what’s one question you have for the class today?” or “what do you still want to know more about?” Or they could be specific to the day’s reading/discussion (e.g., “what’s one idea from today’s discussion that you’d like to explore more or have a question about?”).

  • As a synchronous activity: You could begin and/or end each class session with a quick, written check-in. This could be done easily through Zoom’s chat feature .
  • As an asynchronous activity: You could ask these questions before or after class and have students post responses to Moodle or share through Google docs.

Scaffolding Writing Assignments

Scaffolding writing assignments, especially long papers, allows students to develop one skill at a time, moving from the simple to the more complex; it also provides multiple opportunities for learning (including risk-taking and getting things wrong) and feedback (from you or from peers) before the stakes get high.

Scaffold large writing assignments by sequencing tasks around phases of the writing process (pre-writing, drafting, revising). 

  • Pre-writing activities can be easily done in the virtual classroom. For example, students can write and post to Moodle thinkpieces, sketches/mindmaps (using virtual whiteboards* or Google docs), practice thesis statements, journal entries, one-minute reflections, and statements of confusion. Students could also be asked to keep a writing journal in which they develop their ideas based on self-driven or assigned prompts. These pre-writing activities need not be graded, but they can provide you the opportunity to see where students are in their thinking. You could provide minimal feedback (e.g., a check mark) or use the opportunity to help students develop their thinking by commenting on areas that hold promise or that seem off course. These written pieces could also provide the opportunity for focused conversations during virtual office hours.
  • In terms of drafting and revising, students can be asked to draft via Google docs and share the document with you and/or others in the class. Students can engage in virtual peer review by either providing written comments or audio recorded feedback (if they need to meet asynchronously) or by meeting with one another synchronously online and discussing feedback. They can also make both online (synchronous) and e-tutoring (asynchronous) appointments with the Writing Center to talk through drafts.

*Zoom has sharing capabilities that work well for this kind of work. Students could sketch out ideas on a Google doc, for example, and then share it with a peer. There are other whiteboard applications, though, that students could use, such as AWW Board , Ziteboard , or Whiteboard Fox .

This guide was created by Cassie Sanchez on March 18, 2020.

Literacy Ideas

10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer

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No doubt about it – writing isn’t easy. It is no wonder that many of our students could be described as ‘reluctant writers’ at best. It has been estimated by the National Association of Educational Progress that only about 27% of 8th and 12th-grade students can write proficiently.

As educators, we know that regular practice would go a long way to helping our students correct this underachievement, and sometimes, writing prompts just aren’t enough to light the fire.

But how do we get students, who have long since been turned off writing, to put pen to paper and log the requisite time to develop their writing chops?

The answer is to make writing fun! In this article, we will look at some creative writing activities where we can inject a little enjoyment into the writing game.

Visual Writing

25 Fun Daily Writing Tasks

Quick Write and JOURNAL Activities for ALL TEXT TYPES in DIGITAL & PDF PRINT to engage RELUCTANT WRITERS .

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1. Poetry Scavenger Hunt


The Purpose: This activity encourages students to see the poetry in the everyday language around them while helpfully reinforcing their understanding of some of the conventions of the genre.

The Process: Encourage students to ‘scavenge’ their school, home, and outside the community for snippets of language they can compile into a piece of poetry or a poetic collage. They may copy down or photograph words, phrases, and sentences from signs, magazines, leaflets or even snippets of conversations they overhear while out and about.

Examples of language they collect may range from the Keep Out sign on private property to the destination on the front of a local bus.

Once students have gathered their language together, they can work to build a poem out of the scraps, usually choosing a central theme to give the piece cohesion. They can even include corresponding artwork to enhance the visual appeal of their work, too, if they wish.

The Prize: If poetry serves one purpose, it is to encourage us to look at the world anew with the fresh eyes of a young child. This activity challenges our students to read new meanings into familiar things and put their own spin on the language they encounter in the world around them, reinforcing the student’s grasp on poetic conventions.

2. Story Chains  

The Purpose: Writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit. For this reason alone, it can be seen as a particularly unattractive activity by many of our more gregarious students. This fun activity exercises students’ understanding of writing structures and engages them in fun, creative collaboration.

The Process: Each student starts with a blank paper and pen. The teacher writes a story prompt on the whiteboard. You’ll find some excellent narrative writing prompts here . For example, each student spends two minutes using the writing prompt to kick-start their writing.  

When they have completed this part of the task, they will then pass their piece of paper to the student next to them. Students then continue the story from where the previous student left off for a given number of words, paragraphs, or length of time.

If organized correctly, you can ensure students receive their own initial story back at the end for the writing of the story’s conclusion .

The Prize: This fun writing activity can be used effectively to reinforce student understanding of narrative writing structures, but it can also be fun to try with other writing genres.

Working collaboratively motivates students to engage with the task, as no one wants to be the ‘weak link’ in the finished piece. But, more than that, this activity encourages students to see writing as a communicative and creative task where there needn’t be a ‘right’ answer. This encourages students to be more willing to take creative risks in their work.

3. Acrostic Associations

Writing Activities, fun writing | acrostic poems for teachers and students | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This is another great way to get students to try writing poetry – a genre that many students find the most daunting.

The Process: Acrostics are simple poems whereby each letter of a word or phrase begins a new line in the poem. Younger students can start off with something very simple, like their own name or their favorite pet and write this vertically down the page.

Older students can take a word or phrase related to a topic they have been working on or have a particular interest in and write it down on the page before beginning to write.

The Prize: This activity has much in common with the old psychiatrist’s word association technique. Students should be encouraged to riff on ideas and themes generated by the focus word or phrase. They needn’t worry about rhyme and meter and such here, but the preset letter for each line will give them some structure to their meanderings and require them to impose some discipline on their wordsmithery, albeit in a fun and loose manner.

4. The What If Challenge

Writing Activities, fun writing | fun writing tasks 1 | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This challenge helps encourage students to see the link between posing interesting hypothetical questions and creating an entertaining piece of writing.

The Process: To begin this exercise, have the students come up with a single What If question, which they can then write down on a piece of paper. The more off-the-wall, the better!

For example, ‘What if everyone in the world knew what you were thinking?’ or ‘What if your pet dog could talk?’ Students fold up their questions and drop them into a hat. Each student picks one out of the hat before writing on that question for a suitable set amount of time.

Example What If Questions

  • “What if you woke up one day and found out that you had the power to time travel?”
  • “What if you were the last person on Earth? How would you spend your time?”
  • “What if you were granted three wishes, but each one came with a terrible consequence?”
  • “What if you discovered a secret portal to another world? Where would you go, and what would you do?”
  • “What if you woke up one day with the ability to communicate with animals? How would your life change?”

The Prize: Students are most likely to face the terror of the dreaded Writer’s Block when they are faced with open-ended creative writing tasks.

This activity encourages the students to see the usefulness of posing hypothetical What If questions, even random off-the-wall ones, for kick-starting their writing motors.

Though students begin by answering the questions set for them by others, please encourage them to see how they can set these questions for themselves the next time they suffer from a stalled writing engine.

5. The Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World

Writing Activities, fun writing | disgusting sandwich writing task | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Up until now, we have looked at activities encouraging our students to have fun with genres such as fiction and poetry. These genres being imaginative in nature, more easily lend themselves to being enjoyable than some of the nonfiction genres.

But what about descriptive writing activities? In this activity, we endeavor to bring that same level of enjoyment to instruction writing while also cleverly reinforcing the criteria of this genre.

The Process: Undoubtedly, when teaching instruction writing, you will at some point cover the specific criteria of the genre with your students.

These will include things like the use of a title, numbered or bulleted points, time connectives, imperatives, diagrams with captions etc. You will then want the students to produce their own piece of instruction writing or procedural text to display their understanding of how the genre works.

 But, why not try a fun topic such as How to Make the Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World rather than more obvious (and drier!) topics such as How to Tie Your Shoelaces or How to Make a Paper Airplane when choosing a topic for your students to practice their instruction writing chops?

Example of a Most Disgusting Sandwich Text

The Prize: As mentioned, with nonfiction genres, in particular, we tend to suggest more banal topics for our students to work on while internalizing the genre’s criteria. Enjoyment and acquiring practical writing skills need not be mutually exclusive.

Our students can just as quickly, if not more easily, absorb and internalize the necessary writing conventions while engaged in writing about whimsical and even nonsensical topics.

if your sandwich is entering the realm of horror, be sure to check our complete guide to writing a scary story here as well.

Daily Quick Writes For All Text Types

Daily Quick Write

Our FUN DAILY QUICK WRITE TASKS will teach your students the fundamentals of CREATIVE WRITING across all text types. Packed with 52 ENGAGING ACTIVITIES

6. Diary Entry of a Future Self

Writing Activities, fun writing | future self writing task | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This activity allows students to practice personal writing within diary/journal writing conventions. It also challenges them to consider what their world will be like in the future, perhaps stepping a foot into the realm of science fiction.

The Process: Straightforwardly, after working through some examples of diary or journal writing, and reviewing the various criteria of the genre, challenge the students to write an entry at a given milestone in the future.

This may be when they leave school, begin work, go to university, get married, have kids, retire, etc. You may even wish to get the students to write an entry for a series of future milestones as part of a more extended project.

Example of Message to Future Me Text

The Prize: Students will get a chance here to exercise their understanding of this type of writing , but more than that, they will also get an opportunity to exercise their imaginative muscles too. They will get to consider what shape their future world will take in this engaging thought experiment that will allow them to improve their writing too.

7. Comic Strip Script


The Purpose: Give your students the chance to improve their dialogue writing skills and work on their understanding of character development in this fun activity which combines writing with a series of visual elements.

The Process: There are two ways to do this activity. The first requires you to source or create a comic strip without the dialogue the characters are speaking. This may be as straightforward as using whiteout to erase the words in speech bubbles and making copies for your students to complete.

Alternatively, provide the students with photographs/pictures and strips of cards to form their action sequences . When students have their ‘mute’ strips, they can begin to write the dialogue/script to link the panels together.

The Prize: When it comes to writing, comic strips are probably one of the easier sells to reluctant students! This activity also allows students to write for speech. This will stand to them later when they come to produce sections of dialogue in their narrative writing or when producing play or film scripts.

They will also develop their visual literacy skills as they scan the pictures for clues of tone and context before they begin their writing.

Keep It Fun

Just as we should encourage our students to read for fun and wider educational benefits, we should also work to instil similar attitudes towards writing. To do this means we must work to avoid always framing writing in the context of a chore, that bitter pill that must be swallowed for the good of our health.

There is no getting away from the fact that writing can, at times, be laborious. It is time-consuming and, for most of us, difficult at the best of times. There is a certain, inescapable amount of work involved in becoming a competent writer.

That said, as we have seen in the activities above, with a bit of creative thought, we can inject fun into even the most practical of writing activities . All that is required is a dash of imagination and a sprinkling of effort.

8. Character Interviews

Writing Activities, fun writing | 610f9b34b762f2001e00b814 | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Character interviews as writing activities are excellent for students because they encourage creative thinking, character development, and empathy. The purpose of this activity is to help students delve deeper into the minds of the characters they are creating in their stories or reading about in literature. By conducting interviews with these characters, students gain a better understanding of their personalities, motivations, and perspectives.

The Process of character interviews involves students imagining themselves as interviewers and their characters as interviewees. They can either write out the questions and answers in a script-like format or write a narrative where the character responds to the questions in their own voice.

The Prize: Through character interviews, students learn several valuable skills:

  • Character Development: By exploring various aspects of their characters’ lives, backgrounds, and experiences, students can develop more well-rounded and authentic characters in their stories. This helps make their fictional creations more relatable and engaging to readers.
  • Empathy and Perspective: Conducting interviews requires students to put themselves in their characters’ shoes, considering their thoughts, emotions, and struggles. This cultivates empathy and a deeper understanding of human behavior, which can be applied to real-life situations as well.
  • Voice and Dialogue: In crafting the character’s responses, students practice writing authentic dialogue and giving their characters unique voices. This skill is valuable for creating dynamic and believable interactions between characters in their stories.
  • Creative Expression: Character interviews provide a creative outlet for students to let their imaginations run wild. They can explore scenarios that may not appear in the main story and discover new aspects of their characters they might not have considered before.
  • Critical Thinking: Formulating questions for the interview requires students to think critically about their characters’ personalities and backgrounds. This exercise enhances their analytical skills and storytelling abilities.

Overall, character interviews are a dynamic and enjoyable way for students to delve deeper into the worlds they create or the literature they read. It nurtures creativity, empathy, and writing skills, empowering students to become more proficient and imaginative writers.

9. The Travel Journal

Writing Activities, fun writing | fun writing activities | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Travel journal writing tasks are excellent for students as they offer a unique and immersive way to foster creativity, cultural awareness, and descriptive writing skills. The purpose of this activity is to allow students to embark on a fictional or real travel adventure, exploring new places, cultures, and experiences through the eyes of a traveller.

The process of a travel journal writing task involves students assuming the role of a traveler and writing about their journey in a journal format. They can describe the sights, sounds, tastes, and emotions they encounter during their travels. This activity encourages students to use vivid language, sensory details, and expressive writing to bring their travel experiences to life.

The Prize: Through travel journal writing tasks, students will learn several valuable skills:

  • Descriptive Writing: By describing their surroundings and experiences in detail, students enhance their descriptive writing skills, creating engaging and vivid narratives.
  • Cultural Awareness: Travel journals encourage students to explore different cultures, customs, and traditions. This helps broaden their understanding and appreciation of diversity.
  • Empathy and Perspective: Through writing from the perspective of a traveler, students develop empathy and gain insight into the lives of people from different backgrounds.
  • Research Skills: For fictional travel journals, students might research specific locations or historical periods to make their narratives more authentic and accurate.
  • Reflection and Self-Expression: Travel journals offer a space for students to reflect on their own emotions, thoughts, and personal growth as they encounter new experiences.
  • Creativity and Imagination: For fictional travel adventures, students get to unleash their creativity and imagination, envisioning fantastical places and scenarios.
  • Language and Vocabulary: Travel journal writing tasks allow students to expand their vocabulary and experiment with expressive language.

Overall, travel journal writing tasks inspire students to become more observant, empathetic, and skilled writers. They transport them to new worlds and foster a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. Whether writing about real or imaginary journeys, students develop a deeper connection to the places they encounter, making this activity both educational and enjoyable.

10. The Fairy Tale Remix

Writing Activities, fun writing | Glass Slipper | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: A fairy tale remix writing activity is a fantastic creative exercise for students as it allows them to put a unique spin on classic fairy tales, fostering imagination, critical thinking, and storytelling skills. This activity encourages students to think outside the box, reinterpret well-known tales, and explore their creative potential by transforming traditional narratives into something entirely new and exciting.

The process of a fairy tale remix writing activity involves students selecting a familiar fairy tale and altering key elements such as characters, settings, plot twists, or outcomes. They can modernize the story, change the genre, or even mix different fairy tales together to create a wholly original piece.

The Prize: Through this activity, students will learn several valuable skills:

  • Creative Thinking: Students exercise their creativity by brainstorming unique concepts and ideas to remix the fairy tales, encouraging them to think imaginatively.
  • Critical Analysis: Analyzing the original fairy tale to identify essential elements to keep and areas to remix helps students develop critical thinking skills and understand storytelling structures.
  • Writing Techniques: Crafting a remix requires students to use descriptive language, engaging dialogue, and well-developed characters, helping them hone their writing techniques.
  • Perspective and Empathy: Remixing fairy tales allows students to explore different character perspectives, promoting empathy and understanding of diverse points of view.
  • Genre Exploration: Remixing fairy tales can introduce students to various genres like science fiction, fantasy, or mystery, expanding their literary horizons.
  • Originality: Creating their own narrative twists and unexpected plots encourages students to take ownership of their writing and develop a unique voice.
  • Storytelling: Students learn the art of compelling storytelling as they weave together familiar elements with innovative ideas, captivating their readers.

By remixing fairy tales, students embark on a creative journey that empowers them to reimagine well-loved stories while honing their writing skills and imaginative prowess. It’s an engaging and enjoyable way for students to connect with literature, explore new possibilities, and showcase their storytelling talents.

Top 5 Tips for Teaching Engaging Creative Writing Lessons

Teaching creative writing can be a thrilling discovery journey for students and educators alike. To foster a love for storytelling and unleash the imaginative prowess of your students, here are five engaging tips for your creative writing lessons:

1. Embrace Playfulness : Encourage a spirit of playfulness and experimentation in your classroom. Encourage students to explore unconventional ideas, characters, and settings. Use fun writing prompts like “What if animals could talk?” or “Imagine a world where gravity is reversed.”

2. Incorporate Visual Stimuli : Visual aids can be powerful creative catalysts. Show intriguing images or short videos to spark students’ imaginations. Ask them to describe what they see, then guide them to weave stories around these visuals. This approach can lead to unexpected and captivating narratives.

3. Encourage Peer Collaboration : Foster community and collaboration among your students. Organize group writing activities where students can brainstorm, share ideas, and build upon each other’s stories. This not only enhances creativity but also promotes teamwork and communication skills.

4. Explore Different Genres : Introduce students to various writing genres—fantasy and science fiction to mystery and historical fiction. Let them experiment with different styles and find what resonates most with their interests. Exposing students to diverse genres can broaden their horizons and inspire fresh ideas.

5. Celebrate Individuality : Encourage students to infuse unique experiences and perspectives into their writing. Provide opportunities for them to write about topics that are meaningful to them. Celebrate their voices and help them discover the power of their narratives.

Remember, the key to teaching creative writing is to create a supportive and inspiring environment where students feel empowered to take risks and explore the limitless possibilities of storytelling. By embracing these tips, you can transform your classroom into a vibrant imagination and literary exploration hub. Happy writing!


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Rafal Reyzer

5 Best In-Class Activities For Developing Writing Skills

Author: Rafal Reyzer

Writing is one of the most dreaded in-class activities that students encounter.

The feeling of oncoming doom appears because students have no confidence in their writing skills. They haven’t written a lot; they haven’t read a lot. That’s why, as a teacher, you should come up with class activities for developing writing skills in class and help students become more confident and creative in expressing their thoughts in writing.

5 Excellent Class Activities for Developing Writing Skills

Encourage students to practice writing daily, read books and pieces of writing to eliminate fears, develop a unique style and tone, and find a literary genre they like. Act as a writing coach to give constructive criticism and guidance, and encourage them to write something every day. These are general guidelines, but specific class activities can help students excel.

young student smiling

1. Journal Journeys: Discovering the Writer Within

Journaling isn’t just about jotting down daily happenings. It’s a transformative tool that opens a dialogue between the writer and their inner world. Through consistent journaling, students can reflect, navigate their emotions, and unlock their creative potential.

Why Journal?:

  • Personal Growth: Capture thoughts, moods, and personal evolutions.
  • Boost Memory: Handwriting can reinforce memory and understanding.
  • Enhance Creativity: Dive into a judgment-free zone to explore novel ideas.

Step-by-Step Guide to Effective Journaling:

  • Step 1: Choose Your Medium: Whether it’s a classic notebook, a digital app, or even voice memos, select what resonates with you.
  • Step 2: Set Aside Dedicated Time: Aim for a consistent daily slot, even if it’s just 10 minutes.
  • Step 3: Find Your Quiet Corner: Seek a peaceful spot free from distractions.
  • Step 4: Just Start Writing: Don’t overanalyze; let your thoughts naturally spill onto the page.
  • Step 5: Reflect and Review: Dedicate time weekly to review past entries. It’s fascinating what patterns and insights emerge.

Sample Prompts to Kickstart Your Journaling Journey:

  • What challenged you today, and why did it stand out?
  • Recount a moment today that made you beam with pride.
  • Document a fresh learning or insight from today.
  • If gifted with any superpower for a day, which would you choose and why?

Recommended Resources:

  • Books: Dive into “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for deeper insights into the power of journaling.
  • Apps: For those inclined to digital journaling, explore options like Day One, Penzu, or Journey.
Expert Tip: “Your journal is your haven. There’s no room for judgment here. Celebrate the process of self-expression and self-discovery.” – Jane Doe, Educational Psychologist.

2. Essays Unearthed: Structuring Thoughts into Powerful Prose

Crafting a compelling essay isn’t just about cobbling together words. It’s the art of weaving thoughts, structuring arguments, and engaging the reader in a logical journey. Of course, if students have some difficulties and need help with writing an essay , they can always use the writing help service. Professional authors will complete all tasks and let them save time. But essay development shouldn’t be easy because students won’t learn to write a new essay on their own.

Why Essays?:

  • Structured Thought: Learn to organize ideas systematically.
  • Persuasive Skills: Convince readers with well-framed arguments.
  • Research and Analysis: Delve deep into subjects, analyze various perspectives, and draw informed conclusions.

Blueprint for Crafting a Stellar Essay:

  • Step 1: Brainstorming Session: Start with a flurry of ideas. Jot down everything related to the topic.
  • Step 2: Essay Outline: Organize the chaos. Draft a basic structure with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Step 3: Research: Dive into trusted sources to gather evidence, quotes, and data to fortify your claims.
  • Step 4: Drafting: With research at hand, write the first version of your essay.
  • Step 5: Editing and Polishing: Refine the draft. Check for coherence, grammar, and clarity.

Sample Essay Topics to Get the Ball Rolling:

  • The Impact of Social Media on Modern Society.
  • Climate Change: Myths vs. Realities.
  • The Evolution of Feminism and its Contemporary Relevance.
  • The Influence of Artificial Intelligence on Employment Trends.
  • Books: “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein.
  • Websites: Purdue OWL for comprehensive writing guidelines and citation help.
Expert Tip: “The most potent essays aren’t those with flamboyant vocabulary but ones that resonate with readers through genuine arguments and authenticity.” – Dr. John Smith, Professor of Literature.

student writing in class

3. Story Starters: Sparking Creativity with Guided Beginnings

Diving into the realm of fiction becomes less daunting when there’s a starting point. Story prompts provide that initial nudge, letting imagination take over the rest.

The Power of Prompts:

  • Creative Catalyst: Jump-start the storytelling engine.
  • Skill Refinement: Practice character development, plot twists, and scene settings.
  • Overcoming Writer’s Block: A way out when stuck or uninspired.

The Path to Crafting an Engaging Short Story:

  • Step 1: Choose a Prompt: Start with a scenario, question, or dialogue that intrigues you.
  • Step 2: Visualize the World: Create the setting. Is it a dystopian future? A historical era? A dreamlike dimension?
  • Step 3: Craft Your Characters: Introduce protagonists, antagonists, and side characters. Dive into their motivations, strengths, and flaws.
  • Step 4: Develop a Conflict: Every story thrives on conflict. It could be internal, external, or even philosophical.
  • Step 5: Reach a Resolution: Conclude your tale. It doesn’t always need to be a ‘happily ever after’, but it should be satisfying for the reader.

Sample Prompts to Unleash the Storyteller Within:

  • A mysterious letter arrives, dated 50 years into the future.
  • At the stroke of midnight, all mirrors start reflecting a parallel universe.
  • “Why is there a dragon in your garage?” she asked, not as surprised as one might expect.
  • The first memory he could recall was his birth, and with it, an unsettling message.

Recommended Tools and Resources:

  • Books: “The Amazing Story Generator” by Jay Sacher for a mix-and-match approach to story prompts.
  • Websites: Check out Reedsy’s writing prompts section for a plethora of intriguing ideas.
Words of Wisdom: “A prompt is merely a stepping stone. Where you take the story, how deep you dive into its realms, is entirely up to your imagination.” – Lila Gray, Award-Winning Fiction Author.

4. Freewriting: Unleashing the Unfiltered Mind

Freewriting is all about letting the mind roam free. No judgments, no backspaces, just pure, uninhibited expression.

Why Freewriting?:

  • Stream of Consciousness: Capture thoughts in their rawest form.
  • Overcoming Perfectionism: Learn to let go and embrace the imperfections.
  • Warming Up: It’s a mental stretch before diving into structured writing.

Steps to Effective Freewriting:

  • Step 1: Set a Timer: Whether it’s 5 minutes or 30, this creates a sense of purpose.
  • Step 2: Choose a Medium: Pen and paper or digital, whatever feels more comfortable.
  • Step 3: Write Non-Stop: Don’t pause to edit or judge, keep the pen (or keys) moving.
  • Step 4: Review and Reflect: After the session, revisit what you wrote. Find themes, ideas, or phrases that stand out.
  • Step 5: Repeat: Make freewriting a regular practice. The more you do it, the more you’ll discover about your writing style and thought process.

Sample Starting Points to Kick Off Your Session:

  • The first sound I heard this morning was…
  • If I could step into any painting, I’d choose…
  • What if we all had a personal narrator?
  • The scent of rain always reminds me of…

Tools to Enhance Your Freewriting Experience:

  • Apps: “OmmWriter” offers a serene writing environment, free from distractions.
  • Journals: Consider getting a dedicated freewriting journal to chronicle your daily musings.
Pro Tip: “Freewriting isn’t about producing a masterpiece. It’s a journey into the depths of one’s mind, an exploration of thoughts and emotions.” – Maya Foster, Creative Writing Instructor.

two young students writing

5. News Reporting: Cultivating Analytical Minds and Expressive Writers

Transforming classroom discourse into a newsroom can be an engaging way to foster research skills, critical thinking, and coherent expression.

The Charm of News Reporting:

  • Real-world Relevance: Connects classroom learning to current events.
  • Critical Analysis: Encourages students to dissect, validate, and interpret news.
  • Confidence Boost: Presenting news in class hones public speaking and expression.

Steps to Effective News Reporting in Class:

  • Step 1: Source Selection: Encourage students to bring in newspapers or select from trusted online news portals.
  • Step 2: Story Picking: Let students choose a news item they feel passionate about or intrigued by.
  • Step 3: Research Deep Dive: Ask students to investigate further, going beyond the initial news article for varied perspectives.
  • Step 4: Craft the Report: Students write their version, adding their insights, opinions, and understanding.
  • Step 5: Presentation Time: Just like a newscaster, students present their news story in front of the class, fostering interaction and discussion.

Suggested News Categories to Explore:

  • World Affairs: Global events that shape international relations.
  • Local News: Stories that are closer to home but equally impactful.
  • Science & Tech: Breakthroughs, innovations, and their implications.
  • Arts & Culture: From movie releases to art exhibitions, there’s a story everywhere.

Resources to Aid News Reporting:

  • Websites: BBC Learning English offers “News Report”, an educational program designed for classroom reporting.
  • Books: “News Writing and Reporting: The Complete Guide for Today’s Journalist” by Chip Scanlan provides invaluable insights.
Remember: “News isn’t just about presenting facts. It’s about understanding their implications, questioning the narratives, and fostering informed discussions.” – Neil Harrison, Journalist and educator.

The art of writing requires a wide range of skills. With the right class activities for developing writing skills, your students may be able to unlock their full potential as excellent writers. Students should be able to convey confidence and respect to their audience and tell a great story . A writer who can make an impression with the right tone and turn of phrase will do well in life, and your pupils deserve this. Next up, you may want to explore a quick guide to crypto investing for college students .

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Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here , and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.

ESL Activities

ESL Games, Activities, Lesson Plans, Jobs & More

ESL Writing Activities, Games, Worksheets & Lesson Plans

If you’re teaching writing and are looking for some of the best ESL writing activities, along with worksheets, lesson plans and more then you’re in the right place. Keep on reading for everything you need to know about teaching English writing.


ESL writing exercises and games

Let’s check out the top ESOL writing exercises and activities to consider trying out with your students.

ESL Writing Activities and Games for All Ages

Are you ready to get into the ESL writing exercises? Then let’s get to the best English writing ideas. Also, check out some great writing prompts ideas to use in your writing lesson.

#1: 3 Things ESL Writing Activity

I’m ALL about simple and easy for writing activities in emergency situations when you don’t have a lot of time to prep. 3 Things is ideal because it requires nothing except a pen and paper and also requires no prep time.

The way it works is that students think of 3 random things. Then, they give those words to a partner who has to write a short story using them. It can be serious or silly and kind of depends on the words chosen.

Do you want to give it a try with your students? Check out all the details here: 3 Things English Writing Activity .

#2: Journaling for English Learners

When I teach ESL writing classes, I always have students keep a journal. It can either be with pen and paper or online. It’s a fun way for students to work on writing fluency and have some freedom to write about topics they want to write about, not just the ones that I assign.

If you want to see how I set up this ESL writing exercise, check out the following: Journaling for ESL Students . It makes a nice free write activity.

#3: Postcards ESOL Writing Exercise

If you’re looking for a simple, fun ESL writing activity, then you may want to consider having your students write some postcards. Ideally, you could get your hands of a stack of blank, unused postcards. But, if not, students can design their own and then trade with someone else who can fill in the back.

Learn more about this fun writing activity here: ESL Postcard Writing Activity .

#4: A to Z Alphabet Game

Remember that writing is more than a 5-paragraph essay. It’s any time a student is writing something, even one word. With that in mind, you may want to try out this ESL writing game for beginners.

The way it works is that you name a topic. Jobs or animals for example. Then, students have to think of one word for each letter. I give my students a certain amount of time and the team with the most words is the winner.

Do you want to give this writing activity for beginners a try? Check it out here: A-Z ESL Writing Activity .

#5: Conjunctions and Transitions

Words like but, so, and, however, etc. are key in English writing because they join ideas, sentences and paragraphs together. This makes writing easier to understand and helps it to flow better. Even beginners can learn about using things like and or but.

Here are some of the ideas for teaching these words: ESL Conjunction and Transition Activities .

ESL Listening Activities for Teenagers and Adults: Practical Ideas for English Listening for the...

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#6: Whiteboard Games for ESL Writing Practice 

I don’t know why, but students really love to write on the whiteboard. There are a ton of relay type ESL writing activities that you can do. Here are some of the best ones:

ESL Whiteboard Activities .

#7: Dictogloss ESOL Writing Exercise

If you want to challenge your students with some serious listening and writing, then consider this dictogloss ESL activity. The way it works is that you find a passage or write one at an appropriate level for your students.

Then, put the student into pairs and read out the passage at a slightly faster pace than normal. Students have to take notes and then attempt to recreate what they heard by writing. Read the passage again and students add to what they have. Finally, they can compare their version with the original one.

Do you want to give it a try? Read this first: Dictogloss ESL Writing and Listening Activity .

#8: How to Teach English Writing to Beginners

Back when I did the CELTA course, my tutor told me that writing doesn’t have to be a 5 paragraph essay. It can actually be any time the students are writing something in English. With this in mind, here are some of the best activities for absolute beginners to English writing:

Teaching ESL Writing to Beginners .

#9: Fill out an Application Form

One very practical writing activity that we can do with our students is getting them to fill out an application form. If they plan on living in an English speaking country, they’ll certainly have to do this. And, there’s often some very specific vocabulary and expected answers that you can help them with.

More details here: ESL Writing Application Form .

#10: Sentence Structure Activities

Try out these activities to give students some ESL writing practice opportunities.

In speaking, our students can sometimes get away without having great sentence structure. This is because people often speak in sentence fragments and rarely in full sentences.

However, in writing, sentence structure is key and vital to helping our students get their ideas across on paper. Here are some of the best activities to help our students practice this:

ESL Sentence Structure Games and Activities .


ESL writing games and activities

#11: Is that Sentence Correct?

A simple reading and writing activity is this one that focuses on error correction. The way it works is that you make some sentences, some of which have errors and some that do not. Students have to decide which ones are incorrect and them correct them. It’s ideal for review at the end of class or the beginning of the next one.

Learn more about this writing activity here: ESL Error Correction Activity .

#12: Proof-Reading and Editing

A key part of writing well is proof-reading and editing. Everyone does it, even professional writers! Instead of the students relying on me to correct their errors for them, I like to teach them do to edit their own work. It’s a key skill in the writing process but often overlooked by many English teachers.

Check out this activity for helping students with this writing skill: ESL Proofreading and Editing .

49 ESL Conversation Games & Activities: For Teachers of Teenagers and Adults Who Want to Have Better...

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Spending some time working on self-editing skills, instead of relying on the teacher-editing model is a nice way to improve student autonomy in English writing classes.

#13: Focus on Fluency Activity

Many ESL writing textbooks (and teachers too) focus on accuracy in English writing at the expense of fluency. However, both are needed if students are to become proficient in English essay writing. After all, no employer is going to appreciate an employee who can write a simple, but perfect email in half a day! Most would expect it to happen in a few minutes. But, this nice free write activity helps students with writing more quickly.

Check out this ESOL writing exercise to help our students out with this: Fluency ESL Writing Activity .

#14: How to Teach ESL Writing on the Let’s Talk TEFL Podcast

#15: Word Association

I like to use this quick writing activity if I know that students have studied the topic of the day before. For example, jobs and weather are very common in almost all ESL textbooks and if students are at a high-beginner or intermediate level, I guarantee that they already know some of these vocabulary items.

You can find out how to do it right here: ESL Word Association Activity .

#16 : ESL Surveys

I love to use surveys in my classes. They are a super versatile activity that covers all 4 skills, including writing. It’s also easy to make a survey for just about any topic or grammar point. See why I love them so much?

If you want to know more, then you’ll want to check this out: TEFL Surveys.

101 ESL Activities: For Teachers of Kids (6-13) Who Want to Have Fun, Engaging and Interactive...

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#17: Opinion Activities and Games

Opinion essays are a classic writing activity for both English learners and students in high school or university. That’s why I like to give my students some chances to practice writing and supporting their opinions in my classes. Do you want to try out some of the best ones? You can find out all the details right here:

ESL Opinion Activities .

#18: Parts of Speech Activities for ESL

English writing is ALL about parts of speech. After all, if you don’t know where the verb, subject, object, adjectives and adverbs go, how can you have any chance of making a coherent English sentence? It’s nearly impossible!

That’s why I like to do some worksheets and practice with my students related to this. If you want to try it out too, here are some of the best ideas:

ESL Parts of Speech Activities .


Top 17 ESL writing games and activities

#19: Spelling Challenge Game

Spelling is an important, but often neglected part of writing. In my opinion, it’s worth spending some classroom time on and one way to do that is with this word challenge game. Because it’s done on the whiteboard, it’s ideal for smaller classes.

Want to find out what it’s all about? You can right here: ESL Spelling Challenge Activity.

#20: Dictation 

A nice TEFL writing activity that you might want to try out is dictation. It covers not only writing, but also listening, spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary in a big way. Is it obvious why I like it so much?

Try it out with your students today. Learn more here: ESL Dictation Writing Activity .

#21: Write an Interesting Story in English

It can be fun to get students to write their own stories in English. Check out these 6 simple steps to get started:

Writing and Interesting English Story .

#22: TEFL Writing Activities and Games

#23: Brainstorm Games and Activities

One of my favourite, simple ESL writing activities is to get students to brainstorm words or things related to a certain topic or category. It’s a nice way to get some creative juices flowing and can also be used for a quick warmer or review activity.

There are a number of engaging, student-centred activities to consider. Here are some of my favourites: Brain Storming Games.

#24: Freeze Writing Activity

Group writing activities for TEFL classes are few and far between. However, freeze is one of the best ones to consider. Students have to work collaboratively to make stories, line by line is a fun and engaging way.

Want to give it a try? Find out how: Freeze Activity .

#25: Five-Paragraph Essay Writing

For higher-level students, it can be a worthwhile activity to teach students how to write academic essays. Here’s an outline and some tips for how to do that:

Five-Paragraph Essay Template . 

#26: More Ideas for TEFL Writing

#27: fill in the blank sentences games.

A nice option for beginners in English writing is to use fill in the blanks. This adds a bit of structure to it and makes it much easier for students! Have a look at some of my favourite options:

Fill In The Blank Sentences Games .

#28: Round Robin Story

Try out this simple story writing activity that can be used for speaking & listening, or writing. Learn more:

Round Robin Story .

#29: Five Senses

Try out this simple activity that involves a lot of adjectives. It can be done with speaking or writing.

#30: Story Starters ESOL Writing Exercise

Provide students with a sentence or a short paragraph to serve as a story starter. Students then continue the story, adding their own ideas and developing the plot. This game encourages creativity, storytelling, and writing fluency. Try out one of my favourite ESOL writing exercises!

#31: Picture Prompts

Show students a captivating image or provide them with a set of pictures. Ask them to choose one or a combination of pictures and write a story, description, or dialogue based on the visuals. Pictures can stimulate imagination and inspire students to write.

#32: Sentence Relay

Divide the class into teams. Give each team a writing prompt or topic. The first student from each team writes a sentence based on the prompt, then passes the paper to the next student, who adds another sentence. The relay continues, and students build a coherent piece of writing. The team with the most creative and well-structured writing wins.

#33: ESL Writing Olympics

Create a series of writing challenges that test different writing skills, such as grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, or creative writing. Set a time limit for each challenge, and award points to students based on their performance. Students can compete individually or in teams, making it a lively and competitive writing activity.

ESL Writing FAQs

There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching English writing. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

What is ESL Writing?

ESL technically refers to English as a Second Language but the more common usage is anyone who is a non-native speaker of English, whether or not it’s their second, third or fourth language. ESL writing focus specifically on writing skills.

How can ESL Students Improve Writing?

There are a number of ways that ESL students can improve their writing skills:

  • Practice, both in class and outside of class is key.
  • Give students a reason to write.
  • Use peer correction.
  • Offer self-editing checklists.
  • Give students some freedom to choose what to write about.
  • Use a variety of writing activities and games.
  • Give students a chance to revise their work based on feedback.
  • Strive to make English writing fun and engaging
  • Make it relevant to real-life.
  • Ensure that your ESL writing classes target the level of the students.

How Can ESL Beginners Learn to Write?

Remember that ESL beginners will not be able to write a 5-paragraph academic essay. Instead, you may want to focus on things like filling in the blanks on a worksheet or writing very simple sentences with a subject, verb, and object.

Why is Writing Difficult for ESL Students?

Writing can be a little bit difficult for ESL students because it not only involves vocabulary and grammar, but things like punctuation, capital letters as well as style and other writing conventions. What does make it easier is that it doesn’t happen in real time like with speaking.

What types of writing assignments are suitable for English learners?

Start with simple assignments like journal writing, personal narratives, and gradually progress to more complex assignments such as essays and reports.

How can I make writing more engaging for English learners?

Make it engaging by using interesting prompts, creative assignments, and real-life scenarios that connect to their experiences and interests.

Should I focus on grammar and vocabulary in writing instruction?

Yes, grammar and vocabulary are essential components of writing. Students should learn to use them correctly to convey their ideas effectively.

What’s the role of peer review in teaching writing to English learners?

Peer review helps students develop critical reading and editing skills, and it allows them to receive feedback from peers before finalizing their work.

How can I help English learners overcome writer’s block?

Encourage them to start with a simple outline, use writing prompts, and create a supportive, low-pressure writing environment in the classroom.

What strategies can I use to assess English learners’ writing effectively?

Use rubrics and clear criteria for assessing content, organization, grammar, and vocabulary. Offer specific feedback to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Did you Like these ESOL Writing Exercises?

ESL Writing Activities, Games & Teaching Tips: Practical Ideas for the Classroom (ESL Activities for...

  • 72 Pages - 12/09/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book you can easily find on Amazon: ESL Writing Activities, Games & Teaching Tips . It’s the first and only ESL activity book dedicated exclusively to teaching writing and it’s a must-have if you’re teaching these kinds of classes.

You can easily get these ESL writing activities in both digital and print formats. Consider keeping a copy on the bookshelf in your office and using it as a handy reference guide. Or, bring the digital version with you on your phone or tablet to your favourite coffee shop for some serious lesson planning for your English writing classes.

It really is that easy to have ESL writing classes! Check out the book on Amazon, but only if you want to get yourself a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome in your life:


Do you Have an ESL Writing Grading Rubric?

If you’re looking for a bit of guidance on how to evaluate your students’ writing, then you’re in the right place. We strongly recommend using a simple rubric that’ll save you a ton of time. Plus, students will understand why they got the grade that they did. All the details can be found here:

ESL Writing Grading Rubric .

ESL Writing Lesson Plans

If you’re looking for some ready-made writing lesson plans that can help your students improve their skills in a big way, you’ll want to check out our top recommendations:

One Stop English

ESL Library


Writing practice for English learners

ESL Writing Worksheets

The good news for English teachers is that there are a ton of English writing worksheets to help you out with just about anything! Why reinvent the wheel if another English teacher has already done the hard work, right? Here are some of the best ESL writing worksheets:

Busy Teacher

ESL Writing Assignments

If you’re not sure about writing assignment options for your ESL/EFL students, here are some of the best ideas that you’ll want to check out:

Tips for Teaching Writing to English Learners

Teaching writing to ESL learners requires a combination of strategies to develop their skills and confidence. Here are some tips to enhance your ESL writing lessons:

Provide Clear Instructions

Begin each writing task by clearly explaining the objectives, requirements, and expectations to the students. Break down the task into smaller steps to make it more manageable.

Model Writing

Show students examples of well-written texts in the target genre or format. Analyze the structure, language features, and organization. Model the thought process and decision-making involved in writing.

Teach the Writing Process

Introduce students to the writing process, which includes prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Emphasize the importance of brainstorming, organizing ideas, and revising for clarity and coherence.

Develop Vocabulary and Language Skills

Help students expand their vocabulary and language skills by providing word banks, relevant phrases, and sentence starters. Teach them how to use transition words and cohesive devices to enhance the flow of their writing.

Focus on Grammar and Sentence Structure in TEFL Writing Games and Activities

Address common grammar errors and sentence structure issues that students may encounter. Incorporate targeted grammar exercises and provide feedback on their writing to improve accuracy.

Encourage Pre-writing Activities

Engage students in pre-writing activities, such as brainstorming, mind mapping, or outlining, to generate ideas and organize their thoughts before starting to write. This helps students structure their writing more effectively.

Provide Writing Prompts

Offer a variety of engaging and relevant writing prompts to spark students’ creativity and interest. Ensure the prompts are aligned with their language proficiency level and encourage critical thinking and personal expression. Here are some ideas:

Peer Feedback and Revision

Incorporate peer feedback sessions where students exchange their writing with classmates for constructive feedback. Encourage students to revise their work based on the suggestions provided, promoting collaboration and revision skills.

Offer Individualized Support

Provide one-on-one guidance and support to students who may require additional assistance. Offer personalized feedback and suggestions for improvement based on their individual writing challenges.

Celebrate Progress

Recognize and celebrate students’ progress in writing. Highlight their strengths and areas of improvement, and provide specific feedback on their achievements. Encourage a growth mindset and foster a positive writing environment.

Encourage Frequent Writing Practice

Assign regular writing assignments to give students ample opportunities to practice their writing skills. Provide a variety of writing tasks, such as descriptive essays, opinion pieces, narratives, or reflective journal entries.

Use Authentic Materials for ESL Writing Activities

Integrate authentic materials like newspaper articles, short stories, or blog posts to expose students to real-life writing and develop their understanding of different writing styles and genres.

Have your say about these ESL Writing Activities and Exercises

What do you think about these writing ESL activities? Did you try out one of them from this or have another that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.  We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers, like yourself find this useful resource for teaching English writing.

Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Jackie is the author of more than 60 books for English teachers and English learners, including Business English Vocabulary Builder and 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

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73 ESL Writing Activities to Spark Your Students’ Creativity and Imagination

From a student’s point of view, writing assignments are something to dread.

But from an ESL teacher’s point of view, they should be a challenge worth accepting.

The challenge for you is to motivate your students enough to actually be excited about writing.

Sounds impossible? It’s actually quite simple.

The key is a strong pre-writing activity that boosts their confidence and adds to their vocabulary at the same time.

So, how do you get your students’ writing off to a great start?

In this post, we’ll look at some different ESL writing activities that will transform your students from hesitant writers to confident wordsmiths in their own right.

Writing Assignments Based on Stories

Writing activities prompted by music, writing practice exercises based on images or pictures, writing assignments based on food, writing activities based on mysteries, exercises to practice writing emails, activities to practice writing advertisements, assignments to practice writing reports, creative writing activity: class newsletter/newspaper.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

People of all ages love a well-told story, and using stories to teach ESL is a sure winner.

A story for a pre-writing activity could be in the form of:

  • A  movie . It could be a biography, sci-fi film, thriller, action-packed adventure, fairy tale or even a cartoon.
  • A  story read aloud from a book. If you’re using this, read in a way that brings the characters’ voices to life (including the narrator’s), hold the book up to show any pictures within or scan them and project onto a screen as you read. You can also search YouTube videos of famous authors or celebrities reading a book aloud, and show these in class.
  • A  story from the news . It could be from the TV, radio, newspaper or an online news site .
  • A story read by your students. In this case, you could let them read a story silently or with a partner, and take as long as they like to think about the important parts.

No matter what you choose, it’ll be a great lead-in to the ESL writing exercises below.

1. Re-tell the story as is, or summarize it. (This works best for beginners, who are still getting their feet wet in the waters of English comprehension.)

2. After watching “Finding Nemo” : Tell the story from the point of view of the whale, the dentist’s daughter or Bruce the shark.

3. Explain to Marlin how he should take care of Nemo better.

4. Make up a story about a farm animal/zoo animal/jungle animal. What if a baby ___ was lost? What if a child was lost in the city? What if you found a lost child?

5. After the story of “Goldilocks” : Tell the story from the baby bear’s point of view.

6. What if the baby bear and Goldilocks became best buds? What would happen?

7. After discussing “The Gingerbread Man” : Tell the story from the fox’s or gingerbread man’s point of view.

8. What did the old woman do wrong that made the gingerbread man run away?

9. How do you make a gingerbread man? What other shapes could be made instead?

10. After “Little Red Riding Hood” : Write the story in the first person—from the point of view of either Red Riding Hood or the wolf.

11. What should Red Riding Hood have done when she met the wolf?

12. After watching a “Lord of the Rings” movie: What would you do if you had the One Ring? Write about a magical quest you and several friends would have if you could.

13. After watching a “Pirates of the Caribbean”  movie: What if you were a pirate? What adventures would you have if you were a pirate?

14. After watching “Titanic” : Write about what you discover when you dive onto the wreck. Or imagine you were on the ship when it sank, and talk about how you escaped.

15. Whose fault was it that so many people drowned on the Titanic? What should they have done?

16. After watching a “Star Wars”  movie: Imagine you’re a space explorer and write about what happens when you meet some characters from “Star Wars.”

17. After watching a “Terminator”  movie: Imagine your teacher is a robot that has come back from the future. Or imagine you have come back from the future—what would it be like?

18. After watching a “Harry Potter” movie: Make up some magic spells and explain how you’d use them.

Everybody loves music! Watch your students’ faces light up as soon as they realize that they’re about to be treated to some songs rather than chalk-and-talk. Music stirs the emotions, after all, and can get your students excited about writing.

Here are some ideas for music you can incorporate into ESL writing activities:

  • Classical music. There are some pieces of well-known classical music that specifically tell a story , and many of these are available on YouTube.
  • “Fantasia 2000,” particularly “Rhapsody in Blue.” This wonderful, wordless animated story can kick off so much great writing!
  • Movie music. The music that goes with a movie tells watchers how they should be feeling, and could be a good jumping-off point for some writing.
  • Popular songs and music. Self-explanatory. Check out the most popular or trending artists on YouTube or Spotify for ideas.
  • Kids’ songs . There’s something about singing a catchy little tune that makes the words stick in your mind more than just saying them. These can lead to some interesting writing, too.

19. After Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” : Tell the story from Peter’s point of view.

20. After Saint-Saëns’ “The Carnival of the Animals” : Imagine walking through the scenes with the animals and interacting with them. Write a story from the point of view of one of the animals.

21. Describe the animals in “The Carnival of the Animals.”

22. After Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” : Re-tell this classic Shakespeare story, adding a twist.

23. After watching and listening to “Rhapsody in Blue” : Tell all/part of the story.

24. If you were the main character in “Rhapsody in Blue,” what would you do?

25. Listen to a piece of classical/instrumental music and tell the story that it might be a background to. Imagine that it’s the background music for a movie.

26. Tell the story (real or made up) behind some popular songs like Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.”

27. Describe meeting someone special like in the aforementioned Taylor Swift song.

28. What happens in your wildest dreams?

29. What if you were a famous pop star or musician? What would it be like? What would you do?

30. Give instructions on how to find your favorite song on the Internet, both music and lyrics.

31. If you play an instrument, or have a relative who plays one, write about some of the basics of how to play. (This could also work as a speaking and listening activity, and then the whole class could write about it.)

32. What is your favorite genre of music, and why? (Be sure to explain what “genre” means !)

33. Do you think young children should be allowed to freely watch music videos?

Some pictures you can use for ESL writing activities include:

  • Pictures from social media. If you use social media at all, you doubtless have a barrage of amazing photos and videos on your feed, all of which make for excellent writing prompts.
  • Pictures from Google Images . A quick Google search on any (classroom-safe) image will turn up plenty.
  • Cartoons . If you have young students, they’ll definitely enjoy this one.
  • Pictures selected by your students. Not sure what to choose? Have your students pick their own pictures to write about. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how vibrant their writing can be when they’re writing about subjects they actually care about.

Regardless of the picture you (or your students) choose, here are some writing prompts you can consider.

34. Tell a story—real or imagined—of what is happening in the picture.

35. Write about what happens next from the pictured moment.

36. Write about what was happening just before the pictured incident.

37. What if that was you in the picture?

38. What if you were the person who took the picture?

39. What if you knew the people in the picture? What would you say to them?

40. Describe all of the elements in the picture. This is great for vocabulary practice.

41. Describe how someone in the picture might be feeling.

42. Explain how to get into  a pictured predicament (for example, in the picture here , how did he get into the boat without the crocodile eating him?) as well as how to get out of it.

43. Express an opinion about the rights and wrongs of the pictured situation. For example, for the same picture above: Should crocodiles be hunted and killed? What should happen if a crocodile kills someone?

Many of your students likely enjoy thinking and talking about food. So why wouldn’t they be motivated to write about it?

How you integrate food into your ESL writing assignments depends on your classroom arrangements and the amount of time you’re willing to put into preparation.

In any case, here are some ideas:

  • Start with the preparation and sharing of food before writing about it.
  • Look at pictures of food, and talk about them before moving on to writing.
  • Have students research food-related topics on the internet.
  • Start with a story about food.

Here are the specific food writing prompts:

44. After the story of “The Gingerbread Man”: Think about food that develops a life of its own, and what would happen with it. (This can also open up a discussion about cultural foods.) For example, make up a similar story about another piece of food (e.g., spaghetti or rice that comes alive). What if you felt something moving in your mouth after you bit into your burger?

45. Write a story (real or imagined) about being very hungry and/or finding/buying/stealing food to meet a desperate need.

46. Write a story about trying a new, unfamiliar kind of food—maybe in a (relevant) cross-cultural setting.

47. Write a story about finding and eating a food that has magical properties. (Maybe read or watch some or all of “Alice in Wonderland”  first.)

48. Describe interesting/disgusting/unusual/delicious/colorful foods, especially after a class tasting lesson. (Prepare students first with suitable taste vocabulary .)

49. Describe a food that’s unfamiliar to most students in the class. (This is particularly helpful for classes where there are students belonging to minority groups who hesitate to speak up.)

50. Describe an imaginary magical food.

51. Give instructions for preparing a particular recipe.

52. After a class activity or demonstration involving food: Write down what you have learned.

53. Give instructions for producing food—growing vegetables, keeping animals, etc.

54. Give instructions for buying the best food—what to look for, looking at labels, checking prices and the like.

55. Write about your opinion on food and health in First World and Third World countries. (Explain what makes a country “First,” “Second” or “Third World” first.)

56. Write about your opinion on the cost of food.

57. Write about your opinion on GMOs or genetically engineered foods .

There’s nothing quite like a good “whodunnit,” and students will always enjoy a good puzzle. You can base various pre-writing activities around the two games below to get the class warmed up for ESL writing practice.

  • Conundrum. This is an example of a game that can be played as a speaking and listening activity, and can lead into some good writing. The game starts with a simple statement or description of a situation like the ones described in situation puzzles . Students ask questions and receive yes/no answers until they work out the explanation for the situation.

After Conundrum, here are some of the activities your students can do:

58. Write a story about the sequence of events involved in a situation brought up in the game.

59. Devise and describe your own situation puzzle.

  • Putting their hands inside a cloth bag (or just feeling the outside) to guess what an object is.
  • Smelling substances in opaque jars with perforated lids, and trying to guess what they are.
  • Tasting mystery foods on plastic spoons (with blindfolds).
  • Looking at pictures of mysterious objects from obscure angles.
  • Listening to and guessing the origins of sound effects. (You can record your own, or use some from the Internet .)

(Important: Make sure that whatever you’re using for your guessing game is safe for your students, especially if they involve having to touch, taste or smell the object.)

After a guessing game, your students can:

60. Write about a possible mystery object and a magical quality it could possess.

61. Describe what you thought you saw, heard, felt, tasted or smelled.

For both games, here are some writing prompts you can do:

62. Give instructions for playing one of the games.

63. Give instructions for the perfect crime.

64. Give your opinion about a recent crime and the punishment for it.

Emailing can often be a scary task for your students, especially if they’re using a new, strange language like English. You can utilize an email writing activity to help your students build confidence and get more comfortable writing in English.

Email can also teach your students things like proper language (formal or informal), structure and format. Email-related writing activities for ESL students can offer ample opportunities to teach all of these three aspects.

Since emails involve two parties (the sender and the receiver), you’ll need to pair your students up for this activity. Here’s how to prepare for it:

  • Create one set of worksheets explaining details relevant to the sender. For example, it could contain information about a sender’s upcoming birthday party that they want to invite the receiver to.
  • Create another set of worksheets with the receiver’s details. The worksheets could contain questions about food dishes or gifts, or it could say that the receiver can’t make it for one reason or other.

Once the above has been done, give one set of worksheets to the “senders” and the other to the “receivers.” Then, here’s what your students will do:

65. Based on the senders’ worksheets, write an email inviting the receiver and explaining the key aspects of the event featured in the worksheet.

66. Based on the receivers’ worksheets, write an email explaining why you can or cannot make it to the party, and/or what other information you need about the event.

Advertisements are everywhere, and you can bet that your students have a few favorite ads of their own. Advertisement-related writing activities work across age groups and can be adapted to most students and their needs.

This great ESL writing assignment can help your students put the adjectives they’ve learned into good use, as well as showcase their creative writing and persuasion skills.

You can find advertisements everywhere, including:

  • YouTube videos
  • Newspapers and magazines

You can also bring an object (or handful of objects) to class that your students can write ads about.

67. After your students carefully examine the object(s) you brought into class: Write all the adjectives you can think of about it.

68. For a more challenging writing exercise: Write an ad about the object. How would you persuade someone who knows nothing about the object whatsoever to buy it? (Your students may or may not use the adjectives they wrote down earlier. Encourage them to be creative!)

Your students have likely already done some kind of report during the course of their studies. Also, writing reports is a skill that’ll be useful to them once they enter college or the corporate world (if they aren’t in it already). If you feel that they need a little more practice in this area, use this ESL writing assignment.

First, discuss how research and structure matter to reports—and perhaps show them a few samples. Then, give them a few questions to base their reports on, like:

69. What can you say about (insert topic here) in terms of (insert specific angle here)? (For example, “What can you say about the government’s efforts to improve the local park in terms of its impact on the general public?” Of course, you should adapt this question to the level of your students.)

70. After talking about a YouTube video on bears eating salmon : What would happen to the bears if the salmon ran out? 

This ESL writing activity is a bit more intensive and will allow your students to employ many different aspects of their ESL knowledge. Crafting a class newsletter will build collaboration, communication, listening, speaking and, of course, writing skills. If they’re not sure how to build a newsletter or newspaper from scratch, they can always swipe from premade templates like this one .

The newsletter/newspaper can follow a specific theme, or the articles can consist of a hodgepodge of random topics based on questions like:

71. What is the most interesting thing that happened in school this year? It can be the funniest/scariest/most heartwarming incident. Write a feature article about it. (Make sure to explain what a “feature article” is .)

72. Write a report highlighting the key events in some recent local festivals or concerts.

73. Going off of the last exercise, write an ad inviting the reader to buy a product or attend an event.

Once all of the articles are done, you can start putting them together. Make sure to walk your students through these newspaper layout tips . And when the newsletter/newspaper is finally published and circulated out there for the world to see, remember to congratulate your students for a job well done!

No matter what writing assignments you choose, make sure to keep the excitement level high so that your students are enthusiastic for your next writing session.

Whether they write by hand or type on a computer, remember to encourage them as much as you can by focusing on the good points rather than just running all over their mistakes with a red pen.

Lastly, find ways for them to share their efforts—whether online, on the classroom wall, bound together in a book to be passed around, etc.

They can also read aloud to each other, share with their parents and siblings and even share with other classes!

For more ESL assignment ideas, check out this post: 

Great ESL homework ideas can be difficult to come up with. So check out these 13 great ideas for ESL homework assignments that your students will love. Not only are they…

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writing skills activities for college students

Writing practice worksheets terms of use, finish the story writing worksheets.

  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Snow Day
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Fair
  • Beginning Finish the Story - Summer Camp
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Birthday Party
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Halloween Costume
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The 4th of July
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - The Beach Trip
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - The Great Find
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - Which Way?
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - Finding Muffin
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - The Zoo
  • Advanced Finish the Story - The Troublemaker

Question Response Writing Worksheets

  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Color
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Day
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Number
  • Beginning Question Response - In Your Family
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Sport
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Clothes
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Music
  • Beginning Question Response - How You Relax
  • Beginning Question Response - Lunch Time
  • Beginning Question Response - With Your Friends
  • Beginning Question Response - Collecting Stamps
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Birthplace
  • Beginning Question Response - Starting Your Day
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Food
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Movie
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Song
  • Intermediate Question Response - TV Programs
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Time
  • Intermediate Question Response - Which Country?
  • Intermediate Question Response - The Wisest Person
  • Intermediate Question Response - Someone You Admire
  • Advanced Question Response - A Great Accomplishment
  • Advanced Question Response - The Most Exciting Thing
  • Advanced Question Response - Oldest Memory
  • Advanced Question Response - The Most Productive Day of the Week
  • Advanced Question Response - An Interesting Person
  • Advanced Question Response - What Have You Built?
  • Advanced Question Response - What You Like to Read

Practical Writing Worksheets

  • Beginning Practical - Grocery List
  • Beginning Practical - TO Do List
  • Beginning Practical - At the Beach
  • Beginning Practical - The Newspaper
  • Intermediate Practical - Absent From Work
  • Intermediate Practical - Your Invitation
  • Intermediate Practical - Paycheck
  • Intermediate Practical - The New House
  • Advanced Practical - Soccer Game Meeting
  • Advanced Practical - Note About Dinner
  • Advanced Practical - A Problem
  • Advanced Practical - A Letter to Your Landlord
  • Advanced Practical - A Product

Argumentative Writing Worksheets

  • Intermediate Argumentative - Cat, Star, or Book?
  • Intermediate Argumentative - Soccer or Basketball?
  • Intermediate Argumentative - Giving and Receiving
  • Intermediate Argumentative - Does Practice Make Perfect?
  • Advanced Argumentative - Five Dollars or a Lottery Ticket?
  • Advanced Argumentative - The Most Important Word
  • Advanced Argumentative - An Apple
  • Advanced Argumentative - Too Many Cooks

Writing Worksheets

  • Beginning Writing Worksheet
  • Intermediate Writing Worksheet
  • Advanced Writing Worksheet

Using Precise Language

  • Using Precise Language - An Introduction
  • Using Precise Language Practice Quiz

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FSU | Writing Resources

Writing Resources

The English Department

  • College Composition

Critical Reading Activities

  • Active Reading
  • Appealing to an Audience 
  • Finding the Commonalities
  • Sofa to 5k: Active Reading
  • The Verbal Shove-Off: Active Reading
  • How to Eat a Poem  

Active Reading: Marking Up the Text and Dialogic Journals

Purpose: Helping students learn to actively read texts, how to take notes on readings, and gain an understanding of their preferred styles for notetaking and the possible benefits of each.

Description: This exercise asks students to try two active reading strategies using the sources they might use for their research papers. Then, they discuss in order to articulate their preferred note taking style and the benefits of each.

Suggested Time: 50 minutes

Have students bring in at least two articles they plan on using for their research. Give students the two handouts below. Give students 20 minutes to try each technique, using one article for each technique. Give 5 minutes for independent writing in which students explain which method they prefer and why. Then, have a class discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of each method.

Active Reading – Mark up the Text

  • Underline key ideas – for example, topic sentences.
  • Box or circle words or phrases you want to remember.
  • Place a checkmark or a star next to an important idea.
  • Place a double check mark or double star next to an especially significant idea.
  • Put a question mark near any unfamiliar reference or a word you need to look up.
  • Number the writer’s key supporting points or examples.
  • Use different color highlighters.
  • Don’t be afraid to write your thoughts in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper (like the dialogic journal).

Questions to Ask (and Answer) when Reading a Text

  • What issue is the writer focusing on?
  • Does the writer take a clear stand on this issue?
  • What is the writer’s thesis (if there is one)?
  • What is the writer’s purpose for writing?
  • Who is the audience for this writing?
  • What is the writer’s tone?  Why do you think he/she writes with this tone?
  • Does the writer seem to assume readers will agree with his/her position?
  • What evidence does the writer use to support the essay’s thesis/central argument?  Does the writer include enough evidence?
  • Does the writer consider, address and/or refute opposing arguments?
  • Do you understand the vocabulary?  If not, look the words up.
  • Do you understand the writer’s references/citations?  If not, look them up.
  • Do you agree with the points the writer makes?  Why/why not?
  • What connections can you make between this article and others you have read?

Dialogic Journals (also called Double Entry Journal)

Before reading, answer these questions:

  • Why are you reading this piece?
  • What do you hope to learn as you read it?

Fold a page in your daybook in half (long ways) and follow these steps to complete your dialogue journal:

  • Write the title and author of the article at the top of the page.
  • In the first column, “write down anything from the reading that catches your attention, seems significant, bores you silly, confuses you, or otherwise causes you to take note (or stop taking note).” 1  Make sure to also write down the page number from which you have taken the quote.
  • In the second column, explain what made you write the quote in the first column and/or respond to, question or critique the quote.

Note: You will ping-pong between the two columns.  When you find a quote you want to write down, you will write that quote in column one and then respond to it in column two. Then you will go back to reading, notice a new quote you want to write down in column one and respond in column two.  And so on…

For this assignment, I want you to choose at least two quotes per page.

When you have finished reading, answer these questions:

  • How is this reading useful or not useful for my purpose (in this case, for your inquiry project)?
  • If it is useful, what is useful about it, and what in the reading illustrates that use?


1  Adler-Kassner, Linda. Considering Literacy. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. Print.  (Quote taken from page 10)


Appealing to an Audience: How Publications Set a Tone with Content, Structure and Design  

Purpose: Understanding how journals and newspapers set a particular tone for their audiences. Description: This exercise asks students to analyze various features of publications. Homework assignment that turns into a discussion the next class period. Often used when students are preparing for a feature article or remediation project.

Suggested Time: 20-50 minutes (depending on discussion time)

Give students the following homework assignment:

Publication Analysis (2-3 typed, double-spaced pages)

For this short assignment, you will identify what specific publication you are going to write your feature article for, and analyze the publication in four areas:

  • Content – skim through several issues of the publication, primarily paying attention to the feature articles (i.e. usually the major articles that are listed on the front cover). What subjects/topics do their authors write about? Make a list of the most common subjects you see.
  • Style – pay attention to the type of vocabulary used, the tone employed, the length of the articles, paragraphs, and sentences, the persona/ethos that the writer constructs, and the overarching themes that emerge.
  • Structure/Design – what kinds of organizational structures do the writers use? What about their “hook”? Do they typically start with an interesting quote, a shocking statement, the posing of a problem, factual information, an anecdote, etc.? What kinds of design elements are present? Are there off-set quotes, images/advertisements, unique fonts, subject headings, works cited, bio of the author, etc.?
  • Audience - On the basis of the feature articles’ common types of content, style, and structure/design, what can you infer about the audience? Start with demographics like age, race/ethnicity, gender, religious/political affiliations, etc. but don’t stop there. What does this audience value? How do they perceive themselves? What kinds of weaknesses or desires do the advertisements tend to exploit or encourage? What kinds of knowledge or background experiences do the articles assume that their readers have?

Have students discuss what they found either in small groups, whole groups, or both.


Finding the Commonalities: Investing Organizational Structures and Formatting of Academic Articles  

Purpose: Helping students develop knowledge about organizational structures and formatting common to academic articles, so that  can use  this information to help them read difficult texts

Description: This exercise asks students to identify and present on the features and types of academic texts. This exercise works for particularly well for research-based classes, but can work in other composition courses as well.

Suggested Time: 2-3 class periods and outside of class work time

In groups of two or three, students choose one of the types of essays or essay features from the list at the bottom of the page and create a short presentation for the class.  (The list is by no means complete but is applicable to most of the texts students encounter in scholarly databases.)

For the article types, students should explain

  • the purpose of the article (i.e. what does a review article actually do?)
  •  the  kind of information in each section (i.e. what does the results section do?)
  •  how each section is connected to the others (i.e. how is the lit review connected to the argument?)
  •  and how knowing this information helps readers understand the text  (i.e. how can you read differently knowing the purpose of a lit review?)

For the features common to multiple article types, students should focus on

  •  the purpose of those features (i.e. what do notes do?)
  • the kind of information in the features (i.e. what kind of information would you find in notes?)
  • how the features are connected to the content of the article (i.e what is the relationship between the subject heading and the actual text?)
  • how knowing about these features helps readers understand the article (i.e. how might you read differently knowing about subject headings?)

Each group creates a PowerPoint or similar artifact that can be distributed to the rest of the class.  After the presentations, discuss what the students learned and then, during the next class period, apply this knowledge to a course reading.

List of Article Types and Features

  • IMRAD Articles (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion)
  • Review Essays (Introduction, Methods, Article Discussion, and Implications)
  • Humanities Essays (Introduction, Lit Review, Body/Argument, and Conclusion)
  • Book Reviews (Introduction, Summary, Critique, and Implications)
  • Subject Headings
  • Signposts / Forecasting Moves
  • Notes/Endnotes/Footnotes
  • Works Cited Pages

Sofa to 5k: Active Reading   

Purpose:  This exercise demonstrates the relationship between active-reading and efficient-reading. Students should learn that attentive reading habits can increase their retention and comprehension. It is well-suited for the beginning of the semester, or in conjunction with a research-based assignment.

Description: This exercise prompts students to reconsider quick and non-interactive reading by comparing the processes. It should demonstrate that retaining information is more difficult and time-consuming from a passively read passage.

Suggested Time: 40 minutes

  • Ask students to read an excerpt of your choice projected on the board.
  • Remove the projection and ask them to write short answers to a series of questions referencing specific content, as in phrasing or numerical details.
  • Discuss their answers, and draw extra attention to their (in)ability to quote exactly from memory.
  • Project the excerpt again and ask them to double-check their answers.
  • ...Did it require them to essentially read the entire passage again?...
  • Provide a second excerpt on a printed hand-out and ask them to read the material with a pencil in hand. Encourage them to mark the passages they think are important, especially the author’s thesis or relevant / convincing facts. Ask them to anticipate as they are reading which details you may have chosen for questions.
  • Project a new set of questions for the second excerpt, and ask them to write their short answers on the same sheet of paper as the first excerpt.
  • Discuss their answers. How did engaging with the text affect their ability to find the specific answers? How well did they understand the second text? Did they need to completely re-read to find the answers?
  • Start a discussion about which process seemed "better" to them, or more useful for writing with research.
  • Be sure to question which factors might prohibit them from physically writing in their books (they want to sell them back?), and address possible solutions (post-its).

The Verbal Shove-Off: Active Reading 

Purpose:  This exercise compels students to engage with authors in an exaggerated take on the “talking back to the text” reading strategy; and serves as a nice precursor to an opinion-editorial.  Students should be motivated by the outlandish or absurdly biased (poorly researched) essays to challenge the author with questions in the margins of their essays. Comments like, “say what?!, seriously?, really?, says who?,” are what we want.

Description: While this exercise aims to generate a conversation between the student and the author, it  invites students to scrutinize the resources used within the text. It prompts students to challenge claims in a colloquial manner, and then provides the opportunity to discuss varied viewpoints and draft a counterargument. This is aggro active-reading, or active reading with a purpose.

Suggested Time: 60 minutes

  • First, you need to find an “article” which presents opinion as fact, and refers to questionable sources like Wikipedia. Here is one, for example:  Interest Convergence, FSU, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida .
  • If you’re in a computer-classroom have your students respond in a document as they read the article. If not, and preferably, provide copies.
  • You’ll also want to offer a brief introduction to the topic.
  • Ask the students to decide—as they are reading—if they “agree” or “disagree” with the statements being made—considering a decision, means thinking.
  • Liken it to the way a lawyer collects a defense.
  • When they are done reacting to the piece, facilitate a discussion of the essay.
  • What points did the author make well? Where did they fail? Do you agree? Etc.
  • Ask them to write a response.
  • Resume discussion for another 10-minutes.
  • Last question, did having your paper written out help you articulate your thoughts?

How to Eat a Poem 

Purpose: When reading poetry, students so often feel pressure to find the “deeper” or “underlying” meaning. This exercise is meant to demonstrate that they can read poetry and get meaning from it, and that they don’t need to feel pressure about it.

Description: This exercise provides one way for students to “eat” a poem, meaning to digest a meaning from a poem for themselves. Basically, you’ll choose a contemporary poem and explain how to read a poem, then have students read according to that protocol.

Suggested Time: 35-50 Minutes

Step 1: Prepare for Lesson

  • For this lesson, you’ll need to pick out a poem to read to the class. I recommend picking out something contemporary that easily connects with students. Examples of this could be Tony Hoagland’s “Poor Britney Spears,” Kim Addonizio’s “First Poem for You,” Matthew Dickman’s “V,” Dorriane Laux’s “Facts about the Moon,” or Sherman Alexie’s “Heroes.” Obviously these are just examples -- there are tons more out there. The point is not to pick something too archaic or hard to understand; rather, choose poetry that is contemporary and digestible.
  • Make copies of the poem so that each student has one to read in class. Make sure that students have writing utensils ready.

Step 2: Dispell the Myth of the “Underlying Meaning”

  • To start this exercise you’ll need to give a brief talk or have them read something that dispels a myth that has been instilled in many young adults, the myth that poetry has some “hidden meaning.” Here’s an example of what I tell my students:

People often offer me this complaint when I talk to them about poetry: ‘I don’t understand poetry. Why do poets hide meaning? I wish they would just say what they mean!” Perhaps you’ve thought this (I did when I was in college).

But thinking that poets are trying to “hide” their meaning is misleading, and hiding meaning is not what poetry is about. If the best poets could hide their meaning the most, then the “best” poetry would be unreadable to anybody else. Instead, poetry is more exact in meaning than prose or plain speech.

Let me explain: if I say “I love you,” you have some vague idea of what I mean. But I’ve said that phrase to my parents, sister, brother, ex-girlfriends, former classes I taught, pet bird, favorite book, etc. The phrase has little meaning on its own. Sometimes it means “I want to get in your pants;” others it means “I commit my life to you,” or “you birthed me, that was pretty cool,” “I grew up with you and we are linked that way forever,” “you were the best classroom I‘ve taught,” “you whistle the Mardi Gras Mambo, that’s pretty cool.”

What I’ve just done is made my language more specific to its audience and to the rhetorical situation. Poetry is that magnified times 10 -- it is the most specific form of expression. Sure, there are many kinds of poetry, some easier and some harder to understand. Sometimes you will be able to verbalize a meaning, and sometimes you won’t, and that’s ok. Sometimes, maybe, you’ll feel like you know what the poem means, but won’t be able to describe it. But what makes poetry hard to understand is that you are zooming in to unpack the specific meaning of each word when you read it.

Step 3: Instruct Students on How to Read a Poem, They Read Chosen Poem

  • Read the poem first with your pen down. Read at a moderate pace -- slow enough to enjoy the language, but fast enough to follow the meaning of the sentences.
  • As you read the first time, try to play a video in your head of the images in the poem. Reading a poem should be like experiencing your own personal movie. This may not work for the entire poem, but do it as much as possible.
  • Reread the poem, this time with a pen in your hand. Underline your favorite images, and make a short note about why you connect with them. Put a star next to any parts you don’t understand.
  • Also, on this second read think about the tone of the poem as you read. Is the poem traumatic? Hilarious? Is the speaker yelling at you? whispering? Try to see if you can hear those things in your head.
  • Finally, let the poem affect you and write down how it makes you feel. Allow yourself to be moved, or to take something from the poem, or even to get angry with the poem. This requires letting your guard down and believing that a poem can do this. People have different “readings” of poems/literature - some will find the same poem offensive as another might find beautiful.

Step 4: Class Discussion of the Poem

  •  Have a conversation about the poem with the students. Make sure to have the conversation on the student’s terms -- this means you should start by asking them what the poem meant to them, what images or lines they particularly enjoyed, or what video they saw in their heads while reading.
  • As you discuss with them, be sure to ask abou the poem’s rhetorical situaton, the audience of the poem, etc.
  • Also, be sure to ask them about the process of reading -- did it work for them? Did it not? Why or why not?
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22 Writing Activities To Help Kids Hone Their Writing Skills

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Written by Maria Kampen

Prodigy English is here! Get your students playing — and learning — today.

Fun writing activities

Creative writing activities, academic writing activities, at-home writing activities, daily writing activities, simple writing prompts for kids.

  • How writing activities can bring reluctant writers out of their shells

Try some other educational activities

When kids start writing, they’re unlocking a whole new world of imagination to explore. It’s a great way for them to be creative, express themselves and practice key reading and writing skills. 

But as most kids — and adults — will tell you, writing is hard! It can be intimidating to put pen to paper for the first time, and sometimes the challenge of a blank page seems like too much to overcome. 

Writing shouldn’t be scary for kids. These 22 fun writing activities can help them:

  • Use their imagination
  • Think up new stories and ideas
  • Share their writing with friends and family

Use them in your classroom or at home to get kids excited about writing!

Three students complete fun writing activities at school.

Writing is supposed to be fun! Use these activities to help kids stretch their imagination and record their thoughts on paper in a fun, low-stress environment.

1. Try online ELA games like Prodigy English

Great for: Grades 1 to 6

Online games are a great way to engage students in the learning process — and Prodigy English is bringing the power of game-based learning to language and reading skill practice!

As students build and create, they’re always practicing key reading and language skills that help them write clearly and effectively. Every correct answer gives players more energy to gather resources, complete daily tasks and earn Wishcoins.

Plus, you can send questions about the topics you want them to practice and collect insights about their learning.

2. Poetry scavenger hunt

Great for: Middle and high school students

Words are all around us, so encourage your students to take inspiration from the real-life writing they see every day. Have students collect printed words and phrases from the world around them, including:

  • Magazine ads
  • Graphic novels
  • Newspaper headlines
  • Social media captions

Students can collect and arrange their words on a piece of paper to make a unique piece of poetry. Encourage them to find a key idea and expand on it in creative ways, then have students share their work with the class. 

3. Create your own comic strip

Great for: Grades 4 to 10

Students learn in all sorts of ways. For visual learners, creating a comic strip to accompany their story can help them express themselves in a visual medium. 

Give students a set number of panels and challenge them to come up with a quick story — just a few sentences. Then, they can illustrate their scene in the style of comic books. 

Remind students the point isn’t to be the best artist — it’s to write a story that’s short and exciting. 

4. Create your own Madlib

Great for: Elementary and middle school students

Give students vocabulary practice and help them write a silly story at the same time!

Fill a sheet with the outline of the story, then remove key words like:

For younger students, add a word bank to get them started. As students fill in words, they’ll craft a unique story filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Young student sits at a table with pencil and paper during creative writing activities.

Once students start getting in the habit of writing, these creative writing activities can pull new ideas out of their heads and encourage them to experiment with different genres. 

5. Acrostics

Great for: Grades 3 to 8

Acrostic poems are a great way to introduce your students to poetry! Start with a meaningful word or name and use it as a theme for the poem. 

Writing the word vertically, students can go down the letters and write a short word or phrase that starts with each letter. Acrostic poems help students write within a structure and theme, so it’s easier for them to get started. 

6. A letter to your future self

Great for: Middle school and high school

Where do your students see themselves in a year? Five years? Ten years?

A letter to their future selves is a great way for students to explore their own story, and brainstorm what they want to achieve. Not only can students practice their letter-writing skills, they can use their imaginations to develop a growth mindset . 

For extra nostalgia, store the letters for students and mail them out once the right amount of time has passed. 

7. Write a “Choose your own adventure” story

Great for: Grades 5 and up

Whether it’s a fairy tale, detective story or drama, chances are you’ve had a student tell you they don’t know how their story is supposed to end. 

A “Choose-your-own-adventure” story lets students brainstorm different storylines and endings. Once they’re done, encourage them to share their stories with the class so their peers can go on the adventure too.

8. Write a fake advertisement

Great for: Grades 6 and up

Good writing doesn’t just happen in books — it’s all around us!

Whether students are writing advertisements on their own or as part of a project-based learning assignment , this activity helps them build key media literacy skills and practice their snappy storytelling. 

Have students make up a new product and advertisement, or encourage them to re-imagine an ad for something they love. It’s also a great way to bring media literacy and interdisciplinary learning to your classroom. 

9. Make a story map

Great for: Grades 2 to 8

Not every student is going to be comfortable putting pen to paper right away. Story maps can help students brainstorm details like plot, characters and setting in a way that makes sense for visual learners. 

Have students use charts to set out the beginning, middle and end of their stories. Mind maps can also help them plot out details about their characters or setting. 

Encourage students to present their story map as a finished product or use it to start writing!

Students works with a textbook, pencil and paper in the classroom.

Writing isn’t all fairy tales and short stories — it’s also an important part of learning in middle school, high school and college. Use these academic writing activities to help students understand proper essay structure, grammar and more. 

10. Story chains

Great for: Grades 4 to 8

Stories are better when they’re enjoyed with friends and classmates. And story chains encourage every student to get involved!

Put students in small groups of three to six. Give each student a blank piece of paper and have them write the beginning of a story. Then, pass it to the next student in the group so they can write what happens next. 

For extra educational value, have students work together to summarize a story from your lesson or an important historical event. 

11. Persuasive essays

Sometimes writing is about more than just telling a story. It’s about convincing your readers of your point of view. 

Have older students practice their debate skills with persuasive essays. Start with a prompt, then let students make their case. Some of our favorite prompts for this writing assignment include:

  • Is it more important to be right or to not hurt someone else’s feelings?
  • What important historical figure do you think belongs on the ten-dollar bill and why?
  • Do you think you’re born with your personality traits, or do you gain them as you grow up?

Most importantly, make sure students back up their opinions with solid facts and arguments that convince readers to care. 

12. Solve a real-world problem

Great for: Grade 6 and up

Climate change, litter, bullying, bad cafeteria food — no matter what students pick, there are lots of real-world problems for them to solve. 

Challenge students with a writing assignment that addresses a problem they see in their world. How would they fix it? Whether it’s a short paragraph or a longer essay, encourage them to find something they’re passionate about. After all, that’s where good writing comes from!

13. Vocabulary challenge

Great for: Elementary school students

Vocabulary challenges combine vocabulary strategies with student writing to make your next language arts lesson plan even more engaging. 

Give students a new word (or two or three). Once you’re done practicing it and they know what it means, challenge them to use it in a story as creatively as possible. 

14. Teach citations

Great for: Grades 1 to 12

Footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies are the least exciting part of writing, but they’re essential skills. As students write more complex research papers, they need to know how to give credit where credit is due. Thankfully, there are lots of online resources to help!

The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers teachers and students resources for all stages of the writing process, including citations. To practice, students can write an annotated bibliography as part of a project-based learning assignment or the first step in writing a longer research paper. 

Young girls works with her father on writing activities on their couch.

Writing isn’t just something happening in the classroom. These at-home writing ideas can help you support your child as they experiment with prose and poetry.

15. Write letters to a pen pal

Great for: Grades 3 and up

Everyone likes getting mail! Got a friend with kids in a different part of the country, or far-away family members? A pen pal can be a great way for kids to build friendships and practice their writing skills at the same time. 

16. Bring a home object to life

“It’s as big as a mountain!”

“That’s the fluffiest thing I’ve ever felt!”

The ways kids describe things can crack us up sometimes. Full of wonder and hyperbole, it’s the perfect spark for creative writing, too.

Encourage kids to practice their figurative language skills with a description of something in your home. Let them pack as much alliteration and exaggeration into the description as they can, then do a dramatic reading out loud.  

17. Write reading reactions

If you want to boost reading comprehension and writing skills at the same time, this is the perfect activity. After your child is done reading, encourage them to write a few sentences about what they just read. 

Did they like it? What do they think happens next? Which character was their favorite and why? Learning how to express opinions in writing is a valuable skill. 

18. Document family stories

Great for: Grades 4 and up

Every family has a unique story, including yours. Make memories with your child when you share stories about important family events or your childhood. 

Kids can even interview grandparents, aunts and uncles to record their memories. When you’re done, store them in a shared space so everyone can go back and reminisce.

A person sits at a desk with a notebook, paper, pen and coffee cup.

Writing is a muscle, and you have to flex it every day to get stronger. Use these daily writing activities to make writing part of your everyday routine. 

19. Journaling

Great for: Everyone

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta write it out. 

Whether you’re trying to make sense of life or just need a place to organize your thoughts, journaling is a great way to unwind, practice mindfulness and build social emotional skills . 

All kids need to get started is a notebook and a pen. Let them know you’re not going to read it, but they’re welcome to come to you if there’s something they want to talk about. 

20. Blog about your interests

Great for: High school and up

Everyone’s passionate about something. Whatever your students love, encourage them to share it with the world! Blogging is an accessible and fun way to express themselves, nerd out about the things that bring them joy and share their opinions with the world. 

Sites like WordPress and Wix offer free website builders to help students get started. This is a great way for kids to build computer skills and digital literacy .

21. Free writing

Write, write, write and don’t stop. That’s the premise behind free writing, a writing practice that can help unlock creativity, discover new ideas and take the pressure out of a blank page. 

Give students a five-minute timer and challenge them to write continuously, without worrying about formatting, spelling or grammar. They can write about whatever they want, but there’s only one rule: don’t stop. 

22. Answer daily writing prompts

Make time to exercise your brain with daily writing prompts! At the start of the day or as a quick brain break , set aside time for students to respond to a quick daily writing prompt. 

Students should have a dedicated journal or binder to make it a seamless part of your lessons. Whether or not you choose to read their writing is up to you, but it’s important to build good daily habits. 

Teacher and child sit in the classroom and work on writing activities together.

A blank page can be a scary sight for a student who doesn’t know what to write about. 

Use writing prompts to:

  • Kickstart a student’s imagination
  • Start your lesson with a fun writing activity
  • Give students a topic to debate in writing

Some of our favorite simple writing prompts include:

  • Write a story about a wooden door, a can of soda and a blue shoe. 
  • If you met a monster looking for new friends, what would you do?
  • What’s your favorite season? What makes it the best?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  • Describe your dream birthday cake. 
  • Write a story about being cold without using the word “cold.”
  • If you could decorate your bedroom any way you wanted, what would it look like?
  • Is it better to have lots of friends or just a few really good friends?
  • Write a story in 10 words or less.
  • Write a story about the best surprise you’ve ever received. 

For more writing prompts you can use in and out of the classroom, check out our full list of 225 writing prompts for kids .

Writing activities can bring reluctant writers out of their shells

Writing is hard and can be intimidating for a lot of students. 

But even the quietest and most reluctant students have lots of stories to tell! You just have to encourage them to get their words out. 

Writing activities help remove some of the pressure and give students:

  • A fun way to approach writing 
  • A starting point for their stories
  • Chances to share their writing with students

No two stories are the same, just like your students. Every story can start in a different way, and that’s the beauty of writing prompts.

Whether it’s writing activities or math problems, there are lots of ways to get reluctant learners excited about your lessons with educational activities. 

Here are some of our favorites:

  • 37 Quick & Easy Brain Breaks for Kids
  • 30 Virtual School Activities Students & Educators Love  
  • 27 Best Educational Games for Kids to Play Sorted by Subject  
  • 15 Geometry Activities to Engage Students Across Grade Levels
  • 36 Fun Word Games for Kids To Help with Vocabulary & Literacy
  • 15 Fun, Free & Effective Multiplication Games For Your Classroom
  • 20 Exciting Math Games for Kids to Skyrocket New Math Skills On-The-Go
  • 21 Classroom Games to Boost Teacher Effectiveness and Student Learning
  • 25 Social Emotional Learning Activities & How They Promote Student Well-Being

Which ones can you use in your next lesson?

Prodigy English is a brand-new game-based learning platform helping students build key math skills. As students explore and build a world of their very own, they’ll answer curriculum-aligned reading and language questions that help build essential skills and encourage a love of learning. 

Sign up for your free teacher account and get access to teacher tools that help you differentiate learning and track student progress as they play.

Cognitive Linguistics: Fostering English Language Proficiency in Higher Education

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  • Published: 08 May 2024

Cite this article

writing skills activities for college students

  • Changjiang Tang 1  

Theoretical linguistics, particularly within the domain of cognitive linguistic (CL) theories, serves as a comprehensive framework for understanding language interpretation and addressing fundamental questions about its nature. Within the framework of theoretical linguistics, this study focuses on linguistic theories that delve into cognitive processes. Specifically, it explores how CL theories contribute to the development of English language (EL) skills in college students. To achieve this goal, a well-structured questionnaire method was employed to gather insights from 190 college students, and the collected data were analyzed using SPSS. The study adopts a quantitative descriptive research approach with a cross-sectional research design. The chosen methodology involves a questionnaire survey method, specifically utilizing a closed-ended 5-point Likert scale for participant responses. The corpus linguistics-focused curriculum enhances college students’ writing complexity over traditional methods. This research contributes to the field of cognitive linguistics by not only emphasizing its role in EL development but also by addressing the integration of a corpus-based approach in English teaching. The study findings indicate frequent corpus-based language exploration correlates positively with students’ confidence in written and spoken English. Furthermore, the analysis results highlight the effectiveness of integrating CL techniques into EL teaching materials, showcasing improvements in students’ practical language skills and proficiency.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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