The Write Brain Workbook

These creative writing exercises are from The Write Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer

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20 Creative Write-Brain Exercises

Liberate Your Writing from 'The Right Brain Workbook'!

Write-Brain Workbook

By Bonnie Neubauer | Updated August 5, 2018

This extravaganza of creative writing fun is in celebration of the release of the revised and expanded Write Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer. Enjoy the following array of 20 challenging writing prompts, story starters, colorful exercises, and printable PDF pages with the original formatted activities straight from this enormous writer's resource highly recommended for teachers, parents, and creative writers seeking inspiration! Ready to stretch your imagination and flex your creative writing muscles? Begin your writing fun below.

AmbidextrousDownload Writing Exercise 1: Ambidextrous (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Prompt both sides of your brain to stimulate creativity in this physically-challenging writing exercise.

INSTRUCTIONS: Use your least dominant hand to write this exercise. Even if it feels odd and uncomfortable, STICK WITH IT! The lines are spread out to help you. Start with: I remember my first...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: What was the first compliment you remember receiving about your writing? From whom? Do you remember what you had written? How did it affect your future writings?

Muse-ingsDownload Writing Exercise 2: Muse-ings (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Invite your muse over — don't have one? Create one or beckon one from the classic 9 Greek Muses, Nine Modern Muses, or a Multicultural Muse.

INSTRUCTIONS: Here's a chance to invite your muse for a visit! If you don't believe you have one, make one up! Answer the questions directly in the shapes . . . Draw if you like! Have fun!

  • What does your muse walk like?
  • What does your muse sound like?
  • What does your muse do for fun?
  • What does your muse wear?
  • What does your muse smile like?
  • Where does your muse live?
  • What does your muse like to eat?
  • What does your muse smell like?

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Write a thank you note from your muse to you. Read it out loud so you can take in every word!

One Sill a BullDownload Writing Exercise 3: One Sill a Bull (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Kick-start your creative 'riding' by lassoing in on one-syllable words. See how long it takes you to corral your creative ideas!

INSTRUCTIONS: This is a fave of mine 'cause it makes you dig for words. Each word in this piece must be ONE SILL A BULL. Start with: The bull...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: In terms of creative writing, which step in the process brings out the stubborn bull in you? Getting started? Writing the middle? Finishing? Editing? Sending it into the world? Record ideas to gently treat this phase more like a calm lamb. Try one and see if it helps.

OnomatopoeiaDownload Writing Exercise 4: Onomatopoeia (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Here's a challenge: Try to say the word 'onomatopoeia' 10 times very fast! Easy? Now try to spell it out loud without looking! O-N-O-M-A-T-O-P-O-E-I-A. But wait! There's more to this creative writing exercise; see how many more items you can add to Bonnie Neubauer's list of words that imitate the sounds of the objects or actions they refer to!

INSTRUCTIONS: Onomatopoetic words imitate sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to. here is a long list. Feel free to add more of your own!

Hiss, ping, crunch, pop, sizzle, bang, swish, smash, flutter, clunk, peck, whistle, smack, whack, hush, whir, tiptoe, whoosh, thud, zap, twang, cock-a-doodle-do, squish, stomp, tap, thump, splash, purr, tinkle, gush, kerplunk, slurp, swirl, crash, whirl, clang, mumble, squeak, boom, meow, plop, cuckoo, pow, splat, quack, screech, zoom, tick tock, burp, clip clop, eek, hiccup, moo, oink, buzz

Now, using the first line of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," write your own story incorporating as many of these words as possible.

"True! Nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and I am: but why will you say that I am mad?"

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Another example of a writing practice that can be done anywhere is to simply listen to what's going on.

Write the first thing that comes to mind from these sounds:

  • Ticking:
  • Grinding teeth:
  • Popped balloon:
  • Rain on metal:

Revenge of the JournalDownload Writing Exercise 5: Revenge of the Journal (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Do you keep a private diary or journal to chronicle your innermost thoughts? What if you woke up one day and found that your diary wrote back to you! By flipping pages and perspectives, this 'Revenge of the Journal' writing exercise gives your good listening, long-suffering journal a voice and the chance to finally respond to you!

INSTRUCTIONS: You are the journal or diary of an 18-year-old girl. She's been writing in you daily about dieting, school, her ex-best-friend, and upcoming dance and one particular boy. You're tired of her complaints and her whining. So while she is asleep one night, you write back.

Dear _______,

It has been . . .

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Write a one-sentence journal entry in observation of your writing process:

If you like this, keep a separate process journal in which you record daily thoughts about your writing process. (Thanks to Rachel Simon for this idea.)

Run-OnDownload Writing Exercise 6: Run-On (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

'Run-On' encourages you to write a continous sentence, going on and on and on and on . . . through all 26 letters of the alphabet inventing zany characters, funny story lines, and witty writing as you go

INSTRUCTIONS: Write one sentence consisting of 26 words where each word begins with consecutive letters of the alphabet. Start with the letter R (example: Robert said that Ulysses vibrated Williams' xylophone yesterday zealously as Becky called David's eloquent father George Harrison Isaacson jokingly kidding losing many nice opportunities quickly.)

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: In 26 words or less, write a writing goal. In 26 words or less, how would you feel one year from now if you attained this goal? Why deprive yourself of this feeling? Get started on that goal!

Scribble OneDownload Writing Exercise 7: Scribble One (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Stimulate creative thinking through the use of word tiles and cryptograms in your writing. Square up your creative writing skills! Incorporate each letter tile within your story as instructed and score two points each time you use a tile as the first letter of a word.

INSTRUCTIONS: This exercise uses letter tiles like a familiar word game. When you get to a letter and use it as the FIRST LETTER of a word, you get two points. Try for 50 points!

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: A good way to flex your writing muscle is to play word games/puzzles. Decode this cryptogram (letter replacement code) quote from Mary Gordon:


*Cryptogram answer: A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror.

Sideways GlanceDownload Writing Exercise 8: Sideways Glance (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Experience how writing in a different physical direction can change how you see. A new perspective will infuse your imagination with more creativity, passion, and honesty. What might you discover, uncover, or recover looking at your writing — and life — in a different way?

INSTRUCTIONS: Sometimes writing in a different direction changes how you write. Try it!

Start with: I couldn't help starting . . .

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Stretch your peripheral vision by looking as far to the right and left as you can without moving your head. Describe what might be right beyond what you see.

Stretching our eyes, minds, legs, and hearts is very helpful to developing writing muscle!

States of MindDownload Writing Exercise 9: States of Mind (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Where are you traveling to with your creative writing these days? Are there places your personal truth fears to tread? Have you heard that fear is all in your mind? See what's driving you as you cross-country through the 'States of Mind' writing exercise. Have pen, will travel. What's your writing destination?

INSTRUCTIONS: Use the shape if you choose. Finish the story.

Start with: I was in a California state of mind yet stuck on a farm in Iowa . . .

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: State a fear that keeps you from writing your personal truth.

Let go of the fear a little bit every time you write. Don't jump off the high wire without a net. Take it nice and easy by simply letting go of a little more every time you write.

Tooth FairyDownload Writing Exercise 10: Tooth Fairy (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy? Well, you should. She collects old, fallen-out teeth and leaves money for them! Considering how daunting it is to go to the dentist, you'd think more kids would give the Tooth Fairy a break. This 'Tooth Fairy' writing exercise lets you play the part of the disgruntled fairy, who renders a very nice out-of-pocket service to the unconscious. When's the last time your dentist paid you for pulling your teeth after a nitrous oxide dream?

INSTRUCTIONS: You are a disgruntled Tooth Fairy. You can't understand why Santa and even the Easter Bunny get more attention than you. You just visited twins who expected $20 per tooth.

Start with: I cant' believe . . .

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Characters often live beyond one piece of writing. Write something that will happen in the future to one of the characters in this story as a result of this writing.

Do this with a character that has stuck with you from another writing.

It's All in Your HeadDownload Writing Exercise 11: It's All In Your Head (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

When you need to generate a new story and all you have is pen and paper — no computer, no smartphone, no dictionary, no almanac, no nothing, you gotta learn how to use your head!

INSTRUCTIONS: Congratulations on your new job writing for an upstart supermarket tabloid. Unfortunately, you have a limited budget for travel and resources. This means your responsibility is to write feature articles based on headlines provided by your boss. All you have in your office is a desk, a chair, a pen, paper, and a wastebasket. There’s no computer, no smartphone, no dictionary, no almanac, no nothing. When you ask your boss how you’re supposed to do research, he replies, “Everything you need is already in your head. Write from there.” He then takes off for parts unknown to gather more headlines for you. Choose from the provided headlines for today’s feature story. Then take your boss’s advice and “write from your head.”

  1. Woman Born with Bird Wings Takes Flight
  2. Medical Students Dissecting Corpse Find Watermelon Growing in Stomach
  3. Boy with Static Electricity Disease Sparks Major Fire
  4. Methane from World’s Largest Cow Single-Handedly Increasing Global Warming
  5. Flute-Playing Mermaid Spotted in Midtown Manhattan Practicing Scales

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Years ago people would go to the doctor, describe their symptoms, and get the diagnosis “It’s all in your head.” When it comes to aches and pains associated with writing, it’s often all in your neck, back, or shoulders. A chiropractor taught me a great exercise to help relieve these symptoms and improve posture. It’s called Wall Angels because it is a standing variation of making snow angels. Here’s how to do it: Stand fl at against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Gently press your lower back against the wall. Place the back of your elbows, forearms, and wrists against the wall. Bring your arms up and down slowly in an arc while making sure to keep your elbows in contact with the wall. Repeat ten times. It really works!

Comfort FoodsDownload Writing Exercise 12: Comfort Foods (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

As you practice writing, you'll naturally strengthen your mechanical aptitude including your spelling skills. This writing exercise will comfort you with some unforgettable spelling tips!

ice cream
macaroni and cheese
mashed potatoes
Cream of Wheat
chicken noodle soup

Use all of these foods in a piece that begins: He always looked uncomfortable...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: No need to feel uncomfortable if you're not a good speller. To learn that alright and alot are not words, remember: It’s all right to use your dictionary (or spellchecker) a lot. For easy referral, list correct versions of some of your spelling challenges on a sheet in your writing area.

Dribbling BananasDownload Writing Exercise 13: Dribbling Bananas (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Engage in brainstorming creativity by combining action verbs and plural nouns into unusual combinations!

A. List eight action verbs from sports, all ending in -ing:

B. List eight everyday plural nouns:

C. Now draw arrows connecting these verbs and nouns in unusual combinations. You’ll end up with things like dribbling bananas, squatting shoes, shooting lima beans, etc. Pick one (or more) of these combinations, and use the images in a story that begins: The alarm went off ...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Have you written "morning pages” as per Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way? It’s a great way to clear your mind so nothing stands between you and your creativity for the rest of the day. Put a pen and three sheets of paper by the alarm clock. As soon as the alarm goes off, write until all three pages are filled. Observe the differences you feel during the rest of the day.

Emoti- Cans and Can'tsDownload Writing Exercise 14: Emoti- Cans and Cant's (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Does the subconscious mind understand negatives? Explore the possibilities in this visually engaging "emotion" and "icon" writing challenge!

INSTRUCTIONS: Look at the ten emoticons on the page. To the side of each one, write the situation that prompted the expression. For example, Number 1 might be: Just ruined the surprise for a surprise birthday party. Number 2 could be: Going as one of the Blues Brothers for Halloween.

Pick a face/scenario combo that resonates with you. You are this person behind the face in this situation.

Write starting with: I can't...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Although it's not universally accepted, many people believe that the subconscious mind does not understand negatives. Hypnotists take the safe route and always speak in positives. When it comes to self-talk, especially about your writing and writing talent, it's also best to err on the side of caution. Be an EMOTI-CAN and talk positively to yourself by using words like can, not can't.

A Forkful of SpoonerismsDownload Writing Exercise 15: A Forkful of Spoonerisms (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

W.A. Spooner was an English clergyman noted for accidentally transposing sounds within words and phrases.

INSTRUCTIONS: W.A. Spooner was an English clergyman noted for accidentally transposing sounds within words and phrases. An example of a Spoonerism is saying crooks and nannies when you intended to say nooks and crannies.

Your challenge is to use a pair of Spoonerisms as bookends for a timed writing. In the above example, you would start with The nooks and crannies …, write to fill the page, and conclude your piece with the words … the crooks and nannies.

Pick a pair of Spoonerism bookends:

  • The cozy little nook — the nosey little cook.
  • I was lighting a fire — I was fighting a liar.
  • Because of a pack of lies — because of a lack of pies.
  • It’s pouring with rain — it’s roaring with pain.
  • Save the whales — wave the sails.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: If you were to mix four spoonfuls, forkfuls, or other measurable ingredients together to create a recipe for creative juices, what would yours include? Here’s mine: a forkful of inspiration; a pinch of perspiration; a dollop of laughter; a heaping tablespoon of royalties. Make sure you take a sip or a gulp of your creative juices every day to keep your momentum going.

Hodge PodgeDownload Writing Exercise 16: Hodge Podge (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Writing around odd personality quirks, overused expressions, and desired physical attributes will immerse you in a hodge-podge of creativity.

INSTRUCTIONS: Write the name of a neighbor from your childhood:

  • Write an expression that a friend overuses:
  • Write a relative’s odd personality quirk:
  • Write a physical attribute you wish you had:

This is now your name, an expression you overuse, your personality quirk, and your physical attribute. Write in the first person from this perspective. Start with: Not to burst your bubble...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: If you could put your name plus one word describing your writer-self inside a clear bubble that will travel the globe and be seen by millions, what would that one word be? (If you’re having trouble, list many words and eliminate some daily.)

Invisible InkDownload Writing Exercise 17: Invisible Ink (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Release your fears! This creative writing exercise allows you to let go of your fear a little bit every time you write.

INSTRUCTIONS: State a fear that keeps you from writing your personal truth.

Let go of the fear a little bit every time you write. Don't jump off the high wire without a net. Take it nice and easy by simply letting go of a little more every time you write.

  1. Find a blank sheet of paper and place it over the activity page.
  2. Grab a ballpoint pen. No gels, markers, or roller balls for this one.
  3. Slowly and methodically—pushing down super-duper hard—write on the top sheet (in ALL CAPS) one thing you want to accomplish with your writing this month.
  4. Throw away the top paper.
  5. Mark your calendar exactly thirty days from today to remind yourself to come back to this page. When you return in a month, follow the directions in the Take the Next Step section.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Welcome back. I hope you had a great month. Please locate a soft-lead, dark no. 2 pencil. A non-mechanical pencil is best. Hold the pencil at an angle and gently shade over the paper image area above. Your message from one month ago will magically appear.

If you haven’t yet accomplished what you intended, there’s still plenty of time. Start today. If you did accomplish it, congratulations! Now create a goal for the next month. By the way, with this exercise being the exception, it’s always best to keep your goals visible rather than invisible.

Take a LetterDownload Writing Exercise 18: Take a Letter (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

Better than Mad-Libs! Use the scattered letters on the page to craft a one-of-a-kind story!

INSTRUCTIONS: Whenever you get to one of the letters scattered on the page, use it in a word. It can be the first letter, a middle letter, or the last letter of the word. Try basing your story on something autobiographical, but feel free to embellish to your heart’s content.

Start with: About the same time every year ...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Are your computer files, handwritten drafts, and hard copies scattered all over your home or office like the letters on this page? Or are they all typed, input, filed, and cataloged? What one thing can you do today to externally show a commitment to your writing? Do it. Then notice how it’s reflected in your writing.

Time TravelerDownload Writing Exercise 19: Time Traveler (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

A creative writing exercise that will always exist in the future! Travel back in time and write short, unrelated paragraphs about your past.

INSTRUCTIONS: Here’s an opportunity to travel back in time and write short, unrelated paragraphs about four real-life events (or partially real-life events) from your past.

Pick a series of four topics about which you will write four unrelated, short paragraphs.

  • a birthday, corn, your thumb, a dog
  • toes, a cake, a compass, swimming
  • vanilla, a scar, wanting something, a prize
  • a flashlight, potatoes, a mistake, a neighbor
  • your knee, onions, missing out, stars
  • an ocean, grapes, a big purchase, sneezing
  • chewing gum, waiting, a wish, your hair
  • a female relative, cookies, a bicycle, coffee
  • a competition, a towel, a male relative, cereal
  • your stomach, tomatoes, a bathing suit, getting hurt

For all four paragraphs, start with this phrase: I wasn’t …

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: If you’re tracking your writing progress by time spent writing but find you’re procrastinating a lot … STOP. Start tracking your procrastination time instead. Getting a grip on when you procrastinate (in terms of the time of day or the phase of your creative process) is valuable information. Once you determine a pattern, you will be able to channel your time and energy in such a way that stops contributing to the procrastination and allows you to do more writing.

Truth is Stranger Than FictionDownload Writing Exercise 20: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction (PDF)

from The Write-Brain Workbook

A truth-teasing creative writing exercise that allows others separate fact from fiction!

INSTRUCTIONS: Write an autobiography of a phase of your life. Make sure everything is true except one detail, which is 100 percent made up. Read it to your friends, and see if they can pick out the lie! Start with: When I was ...

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Write down two lies you tell yourself about not being good enough.



Now take a thick black marker and cross out the lies until they are no longer part of your internal repertoire. Feel better?