The 5 Ws Quick Creative Writing Exercise

OwlExercise helps us in many situations. When we are down we can take a walk to help us get some perspective and to feel better about a situation that is bothering us. Writing exercise is equally as good for us as physical exercise and it is an easy way to practice and improve your skills.

Writing exercises can also help you when you are bogged down in your writing, feeling stuck or even if you feel you are suffering from writer’s block. 

Sometimes a quick burst of creative writing exercise is all it takes to shake your imagination up, stimulate a sluggish mind and get you focused on your writing

Being a writer isn’t so easy. We have to become self-motivating and become totally self-reliant, but on the other hand, these are also what’s so great about writing.



Motivating yourself and becoming self-reliant are one way to find personal and financial freedom and such freedom can change your life.

Yet, sometimes we writers make things difficult for ourselves. Instead of concentrating our efforts on writing the story, we worry too much about who will read our story.


It can be hard to focus on your writing when all you can think about is whether people will like it.

Yet, if we don’t sit down, concentrate and write there won’t be a story for people to like, or dislike anyway. The problem is that our mental editor has clicked in.

Our mental editor quite literally stops us writing by continually interrupting our thoughts, criticising us and weighing up the risks involved in our ventures . Luckily, there is a remedy and it’s easy and quick.


We need to bypass our mental editor and the best way to do that is to write as fast as you can before it arrives on the scene to stop you.

Don’t get bogged down in thinking about whether you can write fast or not. You can write fast and you will pick up speed over time as your confidence increases, but to do it you need to go back to basics.

The truth is, starting a story is pretty basic stuff and there is a really quick creative writing exercise to help you do this.


What can be more basic than the simple who, what, why, when and where formula?

This common sense plan has proved over and over again that it is not only one of the fastest ways to begin a story but is also an easy creative writing exercise to use when you only have a small chunk of time available.

If you want this formula to work for you, then the best way to approach it is to answer the questions quickly. So, leave the thinking, analysing, and worrying until later – for now, let’s just start writing. Here’s an example to show you how easy it is to start.

WHO? John Smith – (I know it’s a boring name, but you don’t want to waste time thinking up names now, you can think of something good later, or else wait for a name to drop in your head when you are busy doing something else.)

WHAT? John Smith didn’t come home from work one day.

WHY?  He has been leading a double life and his second life has just been activated.

WHEN? It happened just as his wife had gathered all his friends and family together for a party to celebrate his 40th birthday.

WHERE?  John Smith is now on a small island – on the coast of Scotland.

If you want to continue the fun add a HOW!

HOW?  His contacts collected him from work, transported him by helicopter, have supplied him with concealed weapons and given him orders to infiltrate a small sleeper cell of terrorists who are planning an attack from the sea…

I did this creative writing exercise in 5 minutes. I literally threw down the first things that came to my mind. I’m not saying this is a great idea or story, but ideas grow, expand and improve.

The most important thing is that this exercise got me writing. If I wanted to, I could change and develop this idea into something else entirely.

Here is one more example just to show you how random these exercises can be:

WHO? Sally – an eco activist/policewoman

WHAT? Having affair with a married politician so she can blackmail and manipulate him.

WHEN?  Now

WHERE?  In contemporary Ireland

HOW? Recording his every move, generally spying on him in order to destroy him.


Start your quick creative writing exercise right now.  First get a timer and set it for five minutes – then sit down, get comfortable, and prepare to write.

As soon as you start writing turn your timer on. You are going to finish this exercise before that timer goes off



I have tried this creative writing exercise with many students in the past. It has never failed to get them writing; the pressure of the race against the timer frees the mind from extraneous thoughts and helps to get the ideas up and out on the page. I use the exercise myself all the time to find new ideas.

This quick creative writing exercise is my personal favourite because I can do it anywhere and any time I have a spare few minutes.

I find it’s a fantastic exercise for the creative mind and it’s also a great way to pass those little chunks of time that would otherwise be wasted.

If you find this creative work as stimulating as I do then try some more creative writing exercises,

Perhaps you may prefer something less defined, or less structured if so you can try these abstract creative writing exercises

As you can probably tell by now I love working on creative writing exercises and I really hope you do too.

All the information and exercises on this site are free and all I ask is you like or share – if you like!

Of course do let me know how the exercise worked for you. I would love to hear from you in the comments and I always reply.

Bye for now and take care.


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3 Responses to The 5 Ws Quick Creative Writing Exercise

  1. Strawberry.montage August 26, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Thank you so much for these! I was stuck on my book and this helped me get through it. Your just awesome for sharing this!

    • Grace August 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Glad to hear it – best wishes.


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