Reading and writing every day is the best way to sharpen your craft. What if you (like many people) don’t have time to sit down and write lengthy paragraphs on a daily basis? Or what if you need a little help with what to write? These quick and easy writing prompts and exercises are concise enough to do every day, but will give you that kick of imagination and inspiration you need for your next big writing project.
1.) Give It Life
Pick an inanimate object that you can see. It can be anything—a lamp, a knife, a picture frame, a highchair, a shoe, or a pencil. Now write a few lines from its perspective. What is its personality like? How does its everyday view affect it? What are its worries, its joys, its dreams? This could take a humorous spin, or become surprisingly introspective.
2.) Map It Out
If you are currently starting out a fictional project, think of your main character’s house. If you are beginning a memoir or are not working on anything specific, think of a house you grew up in or a place that was special to you (perhaps it was grandma’s house or your treehouse or the library). Draw a rough sketch of the place, and then label everything you can. Be specific, and think about what it says about the character (or you). If this was a special place to you as a child, how did that change the way you saw the furniture? What are the meanings behind these ordinary furnishings? What do they say about the person who lives there or goes there?
Pick out a stranger you have seen or met recently—the cable repairman, the woman behind you in line at the café, a child who passes you on the sidewalk. Describe them as specifically as you can using all five senses. Who are they to their loved ones? What have they been through that made them the way they are?
4.) The Other Side of the Story
Think of a story you know well. This could be a fairy tale, a movie, or a book you recently read. Pick someone other than the protagonist and write a paragraph from their perspective. How do they see the events? Can you flip it around the make the antagonist’s actions seem right? Or could the hapless sidekick really be the hero of the story? While this is one of the more challenging writing prompts on our list, it can be a really fun way to switch things up.
5.) Letter List
This is super quick but will broaden your vocabulary to think of words you rarely use. Pick a letter, set a timer for three minutes, and write as many words as you can that start with that letter. Don’t think, just write. Keep writing until the timer goes off. We can too often get stuck in a rut of leaning on the same words over and over, but this will bring out some unexpected options. Keep the list and challenge yourself to include some in your next project.
With these writing prompts in your proverbial toolbox you will see how fun and easy it can be to train your craft. No matter what you are writing, it is good practice to uncork that inhibition to put words on paper. Be imaginative, lose the fear, and let the words flow.