Lori Wade is a content writer and a career specialist for college students. She shares experience on writing, education, and self-development in her publications, such as this article about creative writing exercises. You can contact Lori on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
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Even if we aren’t professional writers, we still write every day. Answering emails, chatting with our friends online, keeping a journal – all this is based on writing. This doesn’t mean all our writing is good though. Writing skills can improve with practice – but only when you focus your attention on what needs to be improved. For example, you’ll be able to formulate your thoughts better if you pay attention to how you’re doing it now and try to improve this in the process of writing.
Moreover, when it comes to mastering a foreign language, simply paying attention to how you write might not be enough. Sure, you can check every grammar rule to polish your message before you hit «send» but it will hardly be exciting.
However, there is a way to strengthen your language skills and have fun in the process. You can do so by doing various writing exercises. Each one of them is designed to help you improve a certain area of your writing as well as your English skills.
1. Idiom Soup.
While knowledge of idioms isn’t crucial for all learners (especially beginners), it does help you communicate more easily with others. However, remembering idioms isn’t easy – to some of us, they might sound completely irrelevant and therefore hard to memorize.
Moreover, there are cliches too – they are idioms that have been used too many times and as a result have lost their special meaning. Cliches can make your writing look much worse – however, you should still memorize them in order to avoid them.
The Idiom Soup exercise can help you do so. All you need to do is write a story, either long or short (it’s totally up to you), using as many cliches and idioms as you can. While this might sound simple, you should still find enough idioms and cliches to make your story complete. Moreover, this way it’ll be easier for you to memorize them, building your vocabulary and making it much easier to communicate with native speakers.
2. Frankenstein Character.
For this exercise, you’ll need to go outside – take a walk, sit in a cafe, etc. Pay attention to the people around you and try to memorize some of their features and attributes – how they look, the way they talk, their gestures, etc. Write them down if this makes it easier for you.
Then try to create a character that will have features and habits of some of these people. Think about how this character would look and behave, then write a story about them – or a monologue they could say.
Doing so will help you to create more realistic and stronger characters. At the same time, it could develop your vocabulary a lot, as you’ll have to write about things you have observed.
3. Devil’s Advocate.
It’s one of the most challenging exercises for many as it requires you to choose one strong belief and try to write a text advocating the opposite point of view. For example, if you believe that college education isn’t necessary for everyone, you should write about why it is absolutely crucial for everyone to graduate from a college.
Of course, most likely, it won’t be easy as it will require you not only to demonstrate your writing and English skills but also write about something you are strongly opposed to. However, it will help you express a point of view better and could make you more empathetic as well. And who knows, maybe you’ll develop a more tolerant point of view after that?
4. Emotion Map.
Not all of us find it easy to express our emotions both in communication and in writing. However, learning how to do so is very important even if you don’t intend to write a novel. This will help you understand yourself better and communicate better with the others.
The Emotion Map exercise is all about describing your emotions. The tricky part is that you need to do so without using obvious language, repeating the most basic phrases used for this purpose, or using cliches.
To make it easier for you, create a map or a list of emotions you want to describe – and then move on to writing. Describe your psychological and physical sensations and try using as many adjectives as you can.
5. Vocabulary Story.
Mastering a foreign language usually means adding a lot of words to your active vocabulary, which definitely isn’t easy. This exercise, however, can change that, making sure that you not only remember the words but also practice using them.
Make a list of 10-20 words you need to remember as soon as possible. Make sure you know what they mean – or find out their meanings and write down the explanation for every word. Then try writing a story that includes all these words. Ensure that your story does make sense too.
This will help you practice using these words in context, which eases the memorization process a lot. Also, the whole writing them down thing helps to activate different parts of your brain, therefore, making you remember the words better.
6. Break The Rules.
There are plenty of rules and laws in our society that have existed for so long that we already take them for granted. Why don’t you pick one of these rules and try writing a short story about a reality where there is no such rule?
Besides the fact that this exercise improves your writing and English skills, it also helps develop creative thinking. If you have ever considered becoming a fiction writer (or any kind of creative writer), this will be especially useful for you.
Though each one of these exercises is useful, we still do not recommend doing them all at once. Try doing one at a time but don’t forget to be consistent in this. Finding some time for these exercises every week will benefit you much more than doing all of them in one go and then never returning to them.
This might take some time and struggle but once you get used to practicing these exercises, you will have fewer troubles with writing in English. Soon you’ll be able to handle writing anything, from a persuasive essay to an article.
Maybe you also know some exercises or tips that can help you improve your English as well as your writing skills? If you do, please share them with us in the comment section below, or don’t hesitate to contact us here! Thank you.