When you’re free to write without the constraints of academic papers, unexpected things can happen. You might even surprise yourself with what comes flowing from your fingers! Try these creative writing exercises to tap into your expressive side while keeping your brain nimble this summer.
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Write a poem from your favorite words
Writing a poem might seem like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be. Since so much of poetry is about sound, why not start out with words you like the sounds of? Start keeping a list of your favorite words, then work them all into a short poem. You’ll find yourself drawing connections and creating a narrative as you write. Or not. The great thing about poetry is, anything goes!
Write a fake news article
Lean to be a discerning reader in the era of “fake news” by writing your own. This can be a fun and creative way to process the events happening around you. Your fake news article can be a funny parody or a serious commentary on society. Or try your best fake-out with an article that’s almost true—with the exception of a few telling details.
Describe a scene from your day in the voice of your favorite author
Ever find yourself narrating the events of your life the voice of whatever book you’re currently reading? Take it a step further by writing a scene from your life in that author’s voice, or your favorite author’s. Hardboiled crime detective? Fantasy world adventurer? Draft-dodging 1960s hippie? You can be anyone!
Need to cite your favorite novel? Learn all about how to cite a book here.
Write a short story with a friend
Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary venture. Write a story with a friend: one of you writes the first 500 words, then sends it to the other person for the next 500 words, and so on, until the story is complete. This is a great way to have conversations about writing, too. What writers have influenced each of you? When do you think a story is ready to end? Stepping into a writer’s shoes will help you gain a new appreciation for your favorite writers’ work.
Start a journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to stave off total brain atrophy, while exploring the events, feelings, and ideas that are important to you. Remember, your journal is for your eyes only, so don’t worry about what you write about or how it sounds.
Write (real) letters
Snail mail may seem quaint, but you may find that handwriting letters lets you express your thoughts in a different way than you could over email or text. Have a friend going away to camp or a summer program? Strike up an epistolary correspondence. No quill pen required.
Try flash fiction
If short is more your style, try flash fiction: stories of around 300 words or less. You can explore a scene, a character, or just a moment in time. Start by getting inspiration from these short-short stories by modern flash fiction master Lydia Davis.