ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

9 Productive Writing Exercises

Updated on September 11, 2015

Produce Something While Fighting Writer's Blocks

Like most writers, you'd probably like to write every day. Some writers have a hard time deciding what to write on days when they just can't seem to write what they are supposed to be writing. Some use exercises or prompts to get their thoughts flowing and to kick-start their writing. Some writers uses them to clear writer's block.

None of those exercises are a waste of time because they get the words on pages and, as many realize, writing begets more writing, usually including what one ought to be writing. However, some still feel as if such exercises are a waste of time, at least on some level.

To silence that inner voice telling me I'm wasting my time I came up with a series of exercises and prompts that have a high potential to produce salable or at least shareable material. If I find myself feeling guilty about doing exercises instead of creating something I can do something with afterward, I complete one of the writing exercises below. As you can see, they have resulted in a few articles, including some I've posted on this website.

A Sub-Viral Tutorial Written Using the "How To" Prompt

This tutorial is a product of using the How To prompt. It's been pinned almost a quarter million times on Pinterest!
This tutorial is a product of using the How To prompt. It's been pinned almost a quarter million times on Pinterest! | Source

How To

Think of something you do well. Maybe you make the perfect eggs over easy, eat ice-cream cones without dripping, or excel at fixing cars with improvised tools. For every thing you know how to do exceptionally well (or at least reasonably well) there's at least someone who hasn't a clue who would like to know how to do it half as well.

1. Explain what the thing you do well is and why you do it well.

2. Tell the reader, step-by-step how to do it.

3. Explain how it should look/smell/taste/sound/feel and/or function when the task has been successfully completed.

When you have completed this, you will have a rough draft of a How To or DIY article.

Satire Produced by the "How Not To" Writing Prompt

This humor piece came from an hour spent doing the How Not To exercise.
This humor piece came from an hour spent doing the How Not To exercise. | Source

How Not To


Think of something you do very well and lots of other people seem to suck at. Maybe you are great at dying hair but you've seen way too many people walking around with bad dye jobs or perhaps you excel at operating the office copying machine and you've noticed everyone else just asks you to do the copying. For every thing you know how to do exceptionally well (or at least reasonably well) there's at least someone who does it so badly it's almost beyond your comprehension. Now think of what action would be the opposite of what you do well. Perhaps you could write about how to give a terrible dye job or how to avoid having to use the copying machine by demonstrating your incompetence. Any complete opposite of expertise will make a good topic.

1. Briefly explain your expertise.

2. Using examples, either generic or specific, explain how you've noticed other people having such terrible problems with the task they almost seem to be trying to fail.

3. Write down what you imagine the possible motivation behind each of the ways people screw up this task could be.

4. Tell the reader to do the exact opposite of what you know is needed for the task to succeed.

By the time you have finished you should be able to confidently tell people how to screw up anything you know how to do well.

An Informational Article Created Using the "Let Me Tell You About" Exercise

An article about a craft and floral industry product
An article about a craft and floral industry product | Source

Let Me Tell You About

Results in an informational article

Think of a person, animal, place, or thing you know a lot about, something that requires virtually no research for you to knowledgably discuss. Perhaps you know a lot about elbow macaroni, electric trains, or elephants. Almost any subject will do.

1. Explain how you know about your subject.

2. Describe its physical appearance.

3. Describe its behavioral characteristics.

4. Make note of where your subject lives or can be found.

5. Explain how your subject relates to your readers specifically or to humanity in general.

6. Provide at least three interesting facts about your subject.

When you have finished this exercise, you will have at least the bare bones of an article.

A Tribute Written with the "What It's Like To..." Prompt

When I started this piece as a writing exercise, I had no idea how cathartic it would be.
When I started this piece as a writing exercise, I had no idea how cathartic it would be. | Source

What It's Like To...

Results in some non-fiction

Think of an activity you have participated in, the more unusual, the better but ordinary activities will work, too. It could be anything from going fly fishing, to buying a puppy, to streaking across campus, to joining the armed services.

1. Explain how or why you found yourself performing the activity.

2. Write about the feelings you experienced just before doing it.

3. Write about what happened around you and what you did, including what you were feeling.

4. Write about what happened afterward and/or how you felt about the activity being over.

5. Tell your readers whether or not you'd do it again if you could and explain why.

By the time you've finished you should have a rough draft of a non-fiction story about something that happened in your life.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction
The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction
If you are an out-of-the-box thinker this book may well be what you need.

It Happened to Me

Non-fiction story-telling

Think of a traumatic or otherwise life-changing experience you survived or lived through. It could be as minor a happening as enduring a long car ride with rude relatives or as horrible as seeing a loved one murdered.

1. Write about what was happening or what you were doing moments before the incident.

2. Explain how you knew it was happening or that it had happened. If it occurred in your presence, this would be a recounting of the event itself and how it made you feel, if it didn't, this can be a recounting of how you found out and how it made you feel.

3. Explain how you reacted and what you did next.

4. Tell your readers how you felt then and how you feel about it now.

When you're done you will have a non-fiction story of dealing with loss, trauma, or some other hardship. At the very least, it will likely be therapeutic for you on some level.

If only he had...
If only he had... | Source

If Only I Had

Seed for fiction

Everyone has memories of things they wish they'd handled differently. Our lives seem to be full of what ifs we'll never get to answer. Choose one situation you really wish you had a second chance at and write the story of what would have happened if you had only done that thing you wish you had.

Something worse can always happen.
Something worse can always happen. | Source

Something Worse Can Always Happen

Fiction seed

Think about a time when you got off way easier than you deserved. Maybe you were mowing the lawn in flip-flops and the lawnmower sucked one of them in and shredded it. Obviously, things could have gone a lot worse. Imagine what would have happened if things had gone worse. Now write the story of what you think would have happened if you'd been just a little less lucky.

An Editoral Written Using the "You're Probably Mistaken" Prompt


You're Probably Mistaken

Editorial seeds

If you are anything like I am, you are sure to have noticed something a lot of people seem to have incorrect information about. Tell your readers what those people erroneously think to be true and explain why they are wrong. Examples will make your editorial stronger.

I've Got a Feeling

Editorial seeds

Almost everyone has something he or she notices other people doing that he or she feels strongly about. Explain what it is and explain why you feel that it is right or wrong. Examples with sources will make your argument stronger.

© 2012 Kylyssa Shay


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)