How to Do Writing Group Exercises

Writing exerciseDoing writing exercises at your writing club meetings has many benefits. Members may develop a new idea for a story, have the opportunity to work on an idea that’s been cooking for awhile, or they simply renew their spark for writing.

If you want to do writing exercises at your meetings, I recommend three resources.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction, by Brian Kiteley. This book contains 201 writing exercises segmented into 20 categories. Some of the exercises are concrete in nature, directing the writer to create a scene with specific characters. Other exercises aim for the development of abstract pieces that focus on topics such as emotions or colors. The other gives a recommended word count for each exercise.

Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers From Start to Finish, by James Scott Bell. Chapter three of this book is titled “How to Explode With Plot Ideas.” The author gives general guidance on finding plot ideas, and then goes into detail with “The Top Twenty Ways to Get Plot Ideas.” The ideas are fun and creative and sure to generate some interesting stories.

Writers Digest. ( This website publishes a new writing prompt every week. They tend to give a specific character and scenario and then an instruction on what to write. These prompts lend themselves to as much variety as the two sources above. They are probably less likely to lead to unique story ideas, but are useful for exercising creativity. Still, they’re a helpful resource if you’re in a hurry to put together a writing exercise. I usually choose three or four of the prompts and give each group member the choice of which one to use.

During the meeting, you can introduce the prompts and any specific instructions you have. It will help your group members if you either project the prompts on the screen or pass out copies of them. Spend about 20 minutes writing, or until it seems that a majority of the people have finished writing.

Then you can ask if anyone wants to share their piece. They might be shy about it at first, but if you make writing exercise a part of every meeting, pretty soon everyone will get used to sharing, although they don’t have to share, of course. Remember to only give positive feedback since these pieces are only possible beginnings of stories and not at the level of a first draft.

Writing exercises can be fun, serious, a little or a lot silly, and an encouragement to your group members that they are writers, they can write, and there are stories within them.