Writing Exercises


One of the methods I like to use to boost creativity in writing is the writing exercise.

There are many exercises including the writing prompt, which is a word or a phrase that spikes your juices. Creative juices.

Another one is the photo prompt. Take a photo, like the one above with all the typewriters on old desks, then you write a story about what you see.

Still another is people-watching. You watch humans in their native elements and you write about what you observe.

The one I want to promote here is what I call The Empathy Exercise. It’s similar to people-watching, because you need a little experience with real humans to make any of it work or to make any of it sound accurate.

To do The Empathy Exercise, I’ll take a subject that’s universal, like fear, and I’ll try to imagine as many different types of people and how they feel, sense, or deal with that universal subject. Sometimes I’ll take only one person (a character, for instance) and imagine all the emotions possible and how they react to them. Today, I thought I’d do nightmares. It’s fear, but more specific. What are people’s worst nightmares? How many nightmares, funny or realistic, can I imagine? How many nightmares can you imagine? To let you use this method yourself, I’ll list the categories first, then I’ll list my finished imaginings. If you want to come up with your own imagined nightmares for these categories, don’t read to the end. If you need a little more of a push to get your creative juices flowing, scroll down to see what you might do. If you want to come up with your own categories, no problem, stop here, don’t read any more, and I’ll list one more “if” statement so you don’t accidentally peek and feel like you’ve cheated. IF you want to write some creative categorical nightmares and leave them in the comments, I’d be happy to share them, as long as they’re not too ethically questionable. Here then, is the list:

Rastafarian nightmare:

Catholic nightmare:

Mechanic’s nightmare:

Chemist’s nightmare:

Horror screenplay writer’s nightmare:

Woman’s nightmare:

Man’s nightmare:

Spider’s nightmare:

Spiderman’s nightmare:

Count Dracula’s nightmare:

Metrosexual’s nightmare:

Vegan’s nightmare:

Meat-eater’s nightmare:

CEO’s nightmare:

Democrat’s nightmare:

Republican’s nightmare:

Atheist’s nightmare:

Radio DJ’s nightmare:


And these are those I thought up:

Rastafarian nightmare: all the marijuana plants died.

Catholic nightmare: the Pope’s hat really is hiding an elongated, alien skull.

Mechanic’s nightmare: all the sockets are 19/32 and only 19/32.

Chemist’s nightmare: HCl no longer balances pH.

Horror screenplay writer’s nightmare: no one cares what the monster looks like.

Woman’s nightmare: hair became snakes overnight.

Man’s nightmare: size really does matter.

Spider’s nightmare: one hundred other spiders came to live in the same web.

Spiderman’s nightmare: the two spots on his forehead he thought were acne turn out to be growths of hairy mandibles.

Count Dracula’s nightmare: his victims were all lepers.

Metrosexual’s nightmare: unshaved chests are in fashion again.

Vegan’s nightmare: carrots feel pain when they get uprooted.

Meat-eater’s nightmare: cows grow hands, learn to shoot guns, and crave human flesh.

CEO’s nightmare: getting paid (and valued) less than the janitor.

Democrat’s nightmare: to find out you’re as crazy as they say.

Republican’s nightmare: to find out you can see things from someone else’s point of view.

Atheist’s nightmare: the voices weren’t insanity but guardian angels’ survival hints.

Radio DJ’s nightmare: there isn’t anyone out there listening.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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