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Great creative writing teachers are very passionate about literature, and because of them many of their students will continue to pursue creative writing outside of school. Those teachers also impact learners because of the great creative writing activities they use to get the students' imaginations to run free.
Here are some creative writing activities and prompts that will honor your students’ imaginations. Let them free their muses to soar.
Creative Writing Activities to Explore
This terrific list of activities come from Marcus Roskilly in the UK:
- Free Writing—5 minutes to write on a “spark word” determined by the teacher. Then pair and share.
- Flying Balls—Bouncy Castle balls with an opening sentence written on each. Toss a random one to a student who continues the “ball rolling” with a further thought or another sentence on the first. The ball is then tossed to another student who does the same.
- Modelling—Show them examples of good, interesting writing. Key in on students’ interests.
- Character—Show random pictures of people from the Internet. Develop a character from the image using prompt questions provided by the teacher.
- Skills Lessons—Teach writer’s craft elements in chunks and focus on specific ones at a time. Examples are dialogue, developing setting, conflict, narrative point of view, etc.
- Music—Play low-volume atmospheric instrumental background music while students are working.
- Learning Outcome and Success Criteria—Helping them know and understand the goal or outcome they are striving for and where they are going allows them to stay focused.
Other Engaging Approaches
Here are some select creative writing activities from Caroline Swicegood:
- Life is Not Like a Box of Chocolates: Use the prompt: “Life is like a box of…” You fill in the blank and go from there.
- No-Send Letters: If you know you’ll never send a letter to someone of your choice, what would you write on it?
- Raising Voices: Teacher creates character names, ages, and occupations, and assigns one character to each student. They create a monologue for that character.
- Mixing Up Metaphors: Brainstorm overused metaphor phrases. Replace the last word of each metaphor with something creative and unexpected.
- Found Poetry: Camera scavenger hunt around the campus—locate signs, labels, notes, words and snap pictures. Compile pictures in class and compose poetry (or create a collage) using only those words.
Creative Writing Prompts
Some prompts from Buzzfeed’s 23 Of The Most Creative College Essay Prompts From 2014–2015
- “You’ve just reached your one millionth hit on your YouTube video. What is the video about?”
- “If you were to write the story of your life until now, what would you title it and why?”
- “What’s a question that has changed how you understand the world? What changed?”
- “Design your own three-and-a-half week course and describe what you would do.”
- “A good story starts with a good beginning. Get us hooked in the first 150 words.”
- “What one invention would you uninvent if you could, and why?”
Teachers who display an infectious passion for great creative writing can inspire us to great heights. They will know how to tap into students’ genius. It might take a simple interesting prompt that spurs their imagination.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Mar 30, 2018, updated September 19, 2021