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Creative Nonfiction Writing Exercises

creative nonfictionwriting exercises

Nonfiction and creativity seem to be two very different subject matters on the surface of things. From a writing perspective, however, facts aren’t turned into information unless there is a creative approach taken so that a reader can learn from what has been written. These creative nonfiction writing exercises will help you turn those facts into the hero of your narrative.

#1. Use writing prompts.

Writing prompts are a great way to give some initial fuel to your creativity. This happens because prompts help you to start writing almost immediately by giving you a foundational idea. Then you keep expanding upon that cornerstone based on the subject matter you’re writing about so that you’re writing freely and creatively. As you keep writing, you’ll also find that your confidence starts rising. This works because instead of worrying about structures or formats, you’re focused on fact presentation.

#2. Turn your subject materials into a lesson.

Think about your favorite teacher or professor back in school. What did they do which made it fun to go to their classes? There is a good chance that they made the materials being discussed in that class become fun and conveyed in a way that was easy to understand. They had a lesson plan that they executed well. You can do the same thing by writing your facts as if you were going to teach them to a class of your own. Find the problem, get the solution, and then explain that solution in a clear, precise way.

#3. Create explanations in 250 words or less.

The issue that every nonfiction writer encounters at some point in their career is the issue of over-explanation. If you open up a nonfiction book, you’ll almost always encounter 2,500 words of explanation for a situation when 250 words would have easily sufficed. This happens because writers are seeking to establish their credentials and sometimes their opinions in addition to the facts being presented. So for this creative nonfiction writing exercise, put in a limit of 250 words. You must explain everything in that amount of time. There may be hard decisions to make, but with enough practice, you’ll still communicate the correct perspective.

#4. Outline the steps.

If you were trying to change the oil in your car for the first time ever, it would be useful to have a step-by-step guide to take you through the process. Nonfiction writing in this format can be creative and engaging as well, but only if the writing outlines the different steps the reader must consider. Break down your subject material into specific steps that can be taken to replicate a result. Then practice writing out those steps in a way that any reader could understand. As a final step, try to follow your instructions to duplicate results.

#5. Follow your desires.

Why did you become a nonfiction writer in the first place? How would you describe the passion behind what you do? The best writing in this genre comes from those who are passionate about the subjects they discuss because their love of it rubs off on each and every reader. Put your passions into writing and embrace the dreams you’ve followed to reach this point in your life. When you can tap into that energy, your nonfiction writing will become a reflection of it.

[bctt tweet=”The best writing in #nonfiction comes from those who are passionate about their subject. #writetip” username=””]

#6. It’s all about the adventure.

Whenever nonfiction writing is composed, there is a journey that is being followed. It may not be an adventure for the writer, but it most certainly is for the reader. What makes for an exciting adventure are the small details that can only be experienced by being there in those moments. This means sometimes how the content is relayed to the reader is more important than the overall facts being communicated.

#7. Keep it simple.

This writing exercise may be the most important one of all. Writers tend to overcomplicate their narrative simply because they feel it is boring or dull. Instead of jazzing up the text with words almost everyone would need a companion dictionary to understand, practice writing nonfiction in a way that makes sense to young adolescents – say 8-10 years old. You’re potentially writing for someone who has no knowledge about the subject matter of your content. Look for areas where assumptions of facts have been put into the narrative and then add some additional materials.

Creative nonfiction writing exercises are designed to breathe life into a narrative so it becomes interesting and engaging. Just because you’re writing about real life doesn’t mean it has to be content that lectures or is boring. Use these exercises for inspiration and your nonfiction writing will make a better impact.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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