Creative Writing Exercises

, , | Colin Dawson

Let’s be honest . . .

A lot of training content is somewhat blah! It sounds boring.  It lacks a human voice.

It feels like anyone in any department could have written it.

How can you add a touch of personality? Start by nurturing a sense of play.

When trainers are having fun, they’ll connect with their readers more naturally.  Learners will sense the fun in their writing.

But, you say, training is a serious business, we are charged with getting people to learn.

People aren’t computers, who we teach by writing code for them to follow.  Teaching people new skills is not achieved by writing code for them, we are wired differently.

Exercise 1:

Settle for the first word that comes up in your mind?

That’s usually a word commonly used.

To add some more spice, some personality, try a slightly unusual or a more precise word; or play with sensory words;

This exercise works best for a single sentence, so here goes:

  1. Choose a headline that describes your Modlette or a section of a Modlette.
  2. Use different words to rephrase your chosen line in as many ways you can . . . aim for at least a dozen variations.

You can consult a thesaurus if you wish.

Here’s an example . . . I’ve written several headline options for this article:

  • Draft Training Content?  Here’s How to Add a Splash of Fun and Personality
  • Ho-Hum Training Content?  Try these Ideas to Add Sparkle
  • Boring Writing?  Ignite Your Creativity with These Ideas
  • Wishy-Washy Writing?  Here’s How to Make Your Words Dazzle and Dance

Okay you can take it from here.  Turn your boring headlines into razzle-dazzle.  I’d love to see some of your changes. 

Exercise 2:  Hotwire your words

This exercise works especially well if you feel stuck in a wordy rut as it helps break through habitual word patterns.

We all follow habitual word patterns:  Shoppers stroll, Supervisors scowl, Managers insist. 

How can we break through these patterns?

Songwriter Jeff Tweedy suggests a 4-step creative exercise:

  1. Write a list of 10 verbs related to one topic (e.g.  productivity)
  2. List 10 nouns related to a completely different topic (e.g. managing football)
  3. Link each verb with one of the nouns
  4. Write a paragraph or a poem using the verb-noun combination

The aim of this exercise is not to produce a beautiful text instantly.  As Tweedy suggests, this exercise can jump-start your brain, so “language and words have your full attention again”.

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