Tired hands, quiet minds. By Big Cartel.

10 Writing Exercises to Stretch Your Creative Mind

Whether you’re here to improve your writing or you need a creative break, we’ve curated a list of writing prompts just for you.

We’ve even used these ideas ourselves, stretching ourselves as we try to think outside the box, collaborate on new ideas, and get out of any ruts. Some of our writing exercises are just that - a little brain workout. Others have more obvious applications to social media, product development, and marketing. This helps develop a strong and consistent tone, which is a cheap and (relatively) easy way to stand out from the crowd.

Before you begin, be sure to make this enjoyable and stress-free: set a time limit, whether 10 minutes or 30, so you don’t overdo it. Don’t feel any pressure to share this writing with anyone else. If you feel good about it, go for it, but it’s not required. And it’s cliché because it’s true: There are no wrong answers. It might be awkward at first, but these ideas will help you get used to the sound of your own voice.

#1. Get emotional: What have you read this week that resonated with you emotionally? It could be a tweet or a line from a song or book. It could’ve made you cry, or laugh, or transported you to another time in your life. Pick something that really cut through and caused you to have some feelings. Write a paragraph about why it was meaningful, noting anything about its style, medium, context, and where you were that contributed to your connection with it.

#2. The keys to success: Think about a part of your routine (when you first wake up? before you go to bed?) that is really working for you. Write instructions for your best friend so they can replicate this magic.

#3. Your favorite spot: Describe a significant place, allowing the details to reveal why it matters. Try describing the place from a hawk’s point of view or from the height a turtle.

#4. What’s in a name: Its name is “Turn Toward Tomorrow.” What is it? Think about what goes into a name, what meaning it conveys, and how a few words can set the tone for a new brand or project.

#5. Describing in detail: What has the oldest tree in your neighborhood seen? Start small and work your way out, going as far back in time as you can imagine. This can help you find creative ways to describe something that, at first glance, might seem unexciting.

#6. Quick and concise: Set a timer for two minutes. Write about anything until the timer goes off. Don’t pause to correct grammar, typos, or errors. When the timer goes off, check your word count. Edit what you’ve written down to half as many words. You can correct errors now, but keep the feel of the original version.

#7. Managing editor: Take a look at the writing on someone else’s site and make five suggestions for improvement. Look at descriptions, names, navigation titles, or an about page to name a few. Your ideas can be broad (a change in tone or more brevity) or specific (grammatical errors or sentence tweaks).

#8. Copy for clicks: A call to action is the word or short phrase on a button that encourages people to click. It gives them an idea why they should click and what they’ll get from doing so. For each of the examples below, suggest at least five ideas for a call to action. Think of both general and specific use cases, and come up with professional and relaxed options.

  • Linking to an interview
  • Linking to a job posting
  • Linking to a new product
  • Linking to a blog post
  • Linking to a social media account

#9. Get in their heads: Grab a piece of paper and pen or pencil. Using a free writing approach (try not to edit, just write as soon as ideas come to you), write down all the reasons that lead someone to your website. What emotions drive them? Why’d they choose you? How can you help them? Set a timer for five minutes and write down everything that comes to mind. When the timer rings, you can type up your notes, but don’t make any edits.

#10. Tech specs: You need to sell your laptop quickly. Write copy for a Craigslist ad. What are the most important things a serious buyer would want to know? What conditions would you want to include?

After you’ve stretched yourself, try applying your writing skills to selling your work or go for another cup of creativity from Death to Stock’s emergency stash.