9 Creative English Writing Exercises

Think about all the different things we write: Social media posts, school assignments, work reports, text messages, emails and so on.

There’s no getting away from writing! That’s why learning to write in English is just as important as learning to speak.

In the age of the internet, it may seem strange to focus on writing when everyone can write however they want online. But not all the writing you do will be online or in informal English.

That just makes it even more important to learn how to write properly. In order to break the rules, you first need to learn them!

What’s more, writing in English helps you improve many other language skills. So here are nine fun English writing exercises to help you practice!


1. Vocabulary story

Do you have a list of English words you’re learning? If you do, great! If you don’t, grab one from here or here.

Now, write a story using as many of the words on the list as you can. Aim to include 10-20 words in your story, depending on how much time you have for this exercise.

Have some fun with it and try to get the finished story to make sense!

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When your story is finished, you can share it with friends or on a blog. Encourage readers to point out any mistakes you made.

What you’ll learn:

This exercise will help you better understand and remember vocabulary words for a number of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Using words in a sentence helps you learn how to use them correctly.
  • Remembering words is easier in context (with some other words around them). In fact, the sillier your story, the more easily you’ll remember the words!
  • Writing things down activates a certain part of your brain that helps you remember vocabulary words better.

2. Picture story

Grab the closest magazine to you and choose a random picture. If you don’t have a magazine, you can use this random image generator.

Describe the photo in as much detail as you can. Don’t just write what you see! Imagine that you are in the picture. Think about what you would smell, feel or even taste.

What you’ll learn:

You’ll learn more about adjectives, feelings and perceptions (how we see and experience the world).

Further, we use descriptions in our daily life all the time: “I’m tired;” “Her dress is so stylish;” “This mocha tastes amazing!” Descriptions like these are used often in both written and conversational English!

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3. Structured summary

Think about the last book you read or the last movie you watched. Summarize it (say what happened briefly) using this formula:

[Somebody] wanted … but … so …

Confused? Here’s what it looks like in action:

Bruce Wayne wanted to save Gotham but supervillains were trying to destroy it, so he trained hard and became Batman.

Recognize that story? That’s a summary of the movie “Batman Begins.”

To use the formula in the same way, just fill in the blanks of the formula like this:

  • Somebody: Who is the main character of the story? This character’s name can replace “[Somebody]” in the sentence above.
  • Wanted: What is the character’s motivation? In other words, what does he or she want? This should come after the word “wanted.”
  • But: What stands in the way of the character and what he or she wants? Put whatever it is after “but.”
  • So: What does the character do to overcome this obstacle? Follow “so” with whatever they do.

You can also add another part:

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  • Then: What happens after the character overcomes the obstacle? How is everything resolved?

Here’s another example:

Little Red Riding Hood wanted to visit her grandmother but when she got there she found a wolf instead, so she yelled for help and a passerby came to her rescue. Then everybody lived happily ever after!

What you’ll learn:

You might find it difficult to explain an entire story or book in just one sentence, and this exercise will help you do that—you will learn to explain a complex idea in a simple sentence. This skill will be useful whenever you need to summarize or explain something concisely (in a simple and short way).

You can also improve your reading comprehension with this summarization method. Every time you read a book or a story in English, you should summarize it to yourself to make sure you understood it. If you can’t write a good summary, you might want to re-read the book or story more carefully.

4. Devil’s advocate

Is there something you feel strongly about?

For example, maybe you believe every person should learn a second language. Take this belief, and instead write about it from the opposite point of view. In this example, you would write about why everyone should not learn another language.

In English, this is called “playing devil’s advocate.” That’s when you take a side you don’t actually believe in, just to see an issue from a different point of view.

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What you’ll learn:

This exercise teaches the life skill of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels, even if you don’t feel the same way. This skill is important to have, and writing can help you develop it.

It’s also a great way to learn how to express opinions in English. You may also need to use words you don’t normally use to express this opinion, since you’re speaking from a different perspective. You might even learn something new about yourself and your beliefs!

5. Idiom soup

An idiom is a saying that doesn’t actually mean what it says. For example, “it’s raining cats and dogs” doesn’t mean animals are really falling from the sky—it just means it’s raining very hard. English has a lot of idioms.

A cliché is an extremely overused saying or phrase that’s not original anymore. Clichés are like idioms that have been used so often they’ve stopped being special, like saying “only time will tell” or “easy as pie.”

Your goal here is to write a story that uses as many clichés and idioms as you can!

If you need some reference materials, you can find a list of clichés here, and a list of idioms here.

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What you’ll learn:

Sometimes, learning English feels like you “bit off more than you can chew” (took on a task that’s too big). A great way to build confidence is to know phrases and sayings that you can use in many situations.

Practicing using clichés and idioms will build your vocabulary and ensure that you’ll know exactly what they mean when you hear them spoken by a native English speaker.

6. It was a dark and stormy night

When you read something, the first sentence is very important. A good first sentence sets up the story and makes you want to keep reading.

A classic opening line is from George Orwell’s “1984”:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

But some first lines are not as interesting as this one!

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Try to compare it to the next opening sentence by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton in his novel “Paul Clifford”:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

It’s a bad line because it’s too long, and it doesn’t even give the reader much important information.

In fact, this sentence actually inspired a competition called “The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest,” which encourages people to send in their best worst first lines.

So, try to write your own worst first line! You can look through past contest winners for some inspiration. Try to use humor and maybe even some cultural references. The sentence can be long, but make sure the grammar is perfect.

How bad is your first line? It’s hard to be worse than the original first sentence that inspired the competition!

What you’ll learn:

Use this exercise to practice your compound sentences. How much information can you include in just one sentence? You can also practice using comparisons and metaphors (when you compare two different things based on a shared characteristic).

Doing this will help you express yourself clearly and be understood better. You also have the chance to use English-language humor, which requires knowledge of English-speaking culture. Plus, it’s fun!

7. Story of my life

Think of something that you did in the past, like playing the piano or even going to school. Write about your experience doing this activity. Your writing should start in the past and end in the future.

For example, you can write:

I started playing the piano when I was five, but I stopped only two years later. Right now I can’t play anything, but I hope to start learning again in the future.

What you’ll learn:

In this exercise, you learn how to speak about personal experience and describe something about yourself. Everyone loves to talk about themselves! That’s why a large part of our daily conversations are about us. This activity is also a good way to practice using correct verb tenses.

8. How to breathe

A “how-to” is a type of writing that describes how to do something step-by-step. Most how-to’s teach the reader something new, like how to bake a chocolate cake or how to use a certain feature on your phone.

For this exercise, write a how-to for something a bit… different.

Pick something you do every day without thinking, and write a how-to about that. Write about something like tying your shoelaces, checking your email on your phone or even breathing.

Your how-to should look something like this, use clear language and be organized by steps. In fact, the how-to in that link teaches how to write a how-to!

What you’ll learn:

You may be surprised at how difficult this exercise is. Even something as simple as walking can be a disaster if you don’t organize the instructions well! (Let’s all thank our legs for knowing how to work without our brains. Otherwise, we might all be flopping around like in this “walking simulator” game.)

Writing a how-to will teach you to organize your thoughts better. It’s also a chance to practice informative writing, or writing that teaches new information. By using easy-to-understand language, you’ll also practice using many common words.

9. The silly job interview

Imagine walking into a job interview with the boss of a company. You’re very nervous and polite, but the boss is just having fun. You really want this job, but all he wants to do is make you even more nervous!

It might look a little like this. (You can also read what the actors say here.)

Write a similar dialogue for a job interview that’s going terribly wrong. The job applicant is professional and serious, while the boss is using conversational English and even English slang. What might that conversation sound like?

What you’ll learn:

Writing a silly scene like this might make you feel a little better the next time you do an interview. Then you can think, “Well, at least it wasn’t as difficult as in that dialogue I wrote!”

This is also a good way to practice writing dialogue and to focus on how people speak. You get a chance to use professional English, conversational English and even English slang. Use this as a chance to experiment!

How Writing Improves Your English Skills

It’s simple: Writing helps you learn English. This statement is backed by research—for example, this study showed that even short writing sessions can improve learning.

So how can writing help you? Here are just a few ways:

  • Writing helps you remember things better. If you read, listen, speak and write your lessons, you’ll remember them more. That’s why language classes often use all these skills together!
  • Writing helps you practice new skills. Every time you learn something new, you can strengthen that knowledge by practicing through speaking and writing.
  • Writing lets you take the time to express yourself. Have you ever had trouble finding the right words to use while speaking? Writing gives you a chance to slow down and take as long as you need to find the perfect words.
  • Writing allows you to try new things. There’s no pressure when you’re writing. No one ever has to see what you write if you don’t want them to. That gives you the freedom to try new things and experiment with new words and sentence structures. Don’t hold back!

See how awesome writing is? I bet you’re wondering now: “Where should I start?”

Well, you’ve probably already started. Do you write down your vocabulary words? Do you take grammar notes? These might not be full sentences or paragraphs, but they’re definitely a type of writing.

Typing is another important writing skill that you might already be doing. If you use a program like FluentU, you’re probably typing most of your answers in the personalized quizzes within the program.

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You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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You can improve your English writing skills even more by doing all sorts of fun exercisesAnd the best part is, by improving your writing skills, you’re actually improving many different English skills!


You’re now a budding (developing) writer, one step closer to English mastery.

Don’t forget to include English writing exercises in your studies from now on!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


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The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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