10 ten-minute writing exercises to sharpen your skills (even as a non-writer)

Writers Personal Development
14 min read
In this Article

Does the fear of writing hold you back from publishing blog posts or sending out newsletters?

Maybe you’ve caught yourself saying things like, “I’m not a writer.”

I’ll let you in on a secret:

You don’t need to be a professional writer to create content your audience loves reading.

You also don’t need to dedicate hours of your day improving your writing. With a few quick writing exercises, you can improve your writing in only 10 minutes every day (even if you don’t consider yourself a writer).

And as you become better and more confident, writing marketing content to promote your offerings will feel effortless and natural.

Let’s jump into the best exercises to improve your writing skills in under ten minutes per day!

writing exercises

1. Freewrite/brain dump

This writing exercise helps you: Write long-form content, like blog posts and email newsletter sequences, more effectively.

Picture this: it’s time to write something. Maybe it’s a blog post or your landing page. You open up a document, your fingers are hovering above the keyboard and…you freeze.

The problem isn’t that you can’t think of what to write, the problem is that all your ideas are whizzing around your head at 100 miles per hour and you don’t know what to write first.

If you struggle with getting your thoughts out of your head and onto your paper, try freewriting (also known as brain dumping). During freewriting, write everything you can think of about the topic at hand. No stopping and no erasing (no matter how incoherent you may think it sounds!).

Business coach and ConvertKit creator Niels Janszen says years ago he wouldn’t have believed you if you told him he’d be writing blog posts for his business on a weekly basis. When I asked what he did to improve his writing, he says he does freewriting exercises:

Niels Janszen“No restrictions, no retyping or critical thinking. Simply getting into the flow of writing about it. In case I get stuck or don't feel inspired, I just hop to the next topic on my list and start writing there.”

— Niels Janszen

You don’t need any fancy writing tools to start freewriting; a good old pen and paper, your favorite word processor, or apps like 750 Words and Daily Page are plenty to get started. You can set a timer and aim to write for the entire duration or set a specific number of words and type until you reach that number.

After getting your thoughts out of your head onto the paper, you’ll feel much lighter and you’ll have a document packed with ideas and potential phrases for your content.

Pro tip: Keep your freewriting exercises stored somewhere so you can come back to them. You never know when you can snag a sentence or two from your writing to use in other pieces of content.

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2. Use prompts

This writing exercise helps you: Overcome writer’s block so you can start—and finish—the copy that’s been making a home in the back of your mind.

As a creator, you have an endless list of copy to write:

  • Social media captions for multiple platforms
  • Blog posts
  • Email newsletter
  • Landing and sales pages
  • Email pitches

And so much more.

When writer’s block sneaks up, you need a speedy way to combat it. Freewriting, as we talked about above, is an easy exercise to get all your thoughts out. But what about days when you’re reaching into your mind and can’t quite grasp anything to pull out and place on the paper?

That’s when you need to try writing prompts.

Writing prompts help you start. Think about it this way: before embarking on a marathon, you’d warm up your muscles. You can do the same with writing. If your writing muscles feel stiff, warm them up through some writing prompts.

You can find writing prompts on:

Each prompt—usually a sentence or two—can give you ideas and direct your writing.

3. Roll-a-story

This writing exercise helps you: Develop stories to engage your audience and keep them interested in your offerings.

Storytelling is an incredibly effective business technique to draw your audience in and nudge them towards converting to leads or sales.

Human beings are wired to respond to storytelling. According to Harvard Business, when we read stories, three hormones are released:

  1. Cortisol: Helps us form memories and remember the stories we’re hearing
  2. Dopamine: Keeps us engaged throughout the story we’re listening to
  3. Oxytocin: Enhances our empathy so we feel connected to the story/storyteller

You can use stories to foster deeper connections with your audience and make your product more memorable. But if you haven’t written a story since the third grade, you might not know how to start.

Luckily, if you have some dice, you can engage in an easy writing exercise: roll-a-story.

writing exercises
Roll-a-story legends are a quick way to come up with story ideas. Image via RoomBop.

With roll-a-story, writers use a die and a legend to create a guide for their story creation including characters, settings, and problems. You can search for “roll a story” on Google to come up with different legends.

Plus, as you write more stories—and put yourself in the shoes of more characters—you’ll develop empathy, a skill every creator needs to truly understand their audience.

4. Write a beginner’s guide on something you’re passionate about

This writing exercise helps you: Simplify complex ideas into digestible pieces of information.

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where you have no clue what the other person is talking about? They’re using lingo you’ve never heard and you’re trying to think of something to say, but you have no idea, so eventually, you just tune them out.

As a creator, your job is to excite your audience about your offers, not intimidate and confuse them. To prevent your audience from tuning you out, make sure your copy explains your offerings in a way that’s easy to understand.

To practice writing simple copy, spend ten minutes a day crafting a beginner’s guide breaking down a topic you’re intimately familiar with. Write your guide for someone who has no experience with the topic at hand.

If writing an entire guide seems intimidating, write something smaller, like mock social media posts.

Fashion blogger and ConvertKit creator, Maria Juvakka, says:

Maria Juvakka“If you are not ready to write [longform copy] just yet, then social media [posts] are a great starting point. Social Media posts are short, therefore, you learn how to get your point across with minimal character and word targets.”

— Maria Juvakka

Have a friend or family member review your guide so they can tell you if, by the end of reading it, they understand the concept you’re trying to explain.

Bonus: If your guides relate to your niche, they can serve as starting points for actual books or ebooks. While you might not have your sights set on becoming an author, you can package up your guides as ebooks for an additional stream of passive income.

5. Write with random words

This writing exercise helps you: Expand your vocabulary for colorful and precise writing.

For this creative writing exercise, use this random word generator and generate 10-15 words. Begin freewriting and include all the words from the generator. The more you do this writing drill, the more new words you’ll learn.

Gregg Hinthorn, editor and content creator, gives writing tips to nearly half a million TikTok followers. He notes that when you have better words, you have better communication:

gregg hinthorn“Words have precise meanings. Knowing those meanings allows the writer to more accurately convey a thought.”

— Gregg Hinthorn

While learning new words improves your writing, Gregg also cautions to be selective about the words you use as to not alienate your audience through words they might not know:

“At times, I'll think of an uncommon word. Then I'll ask myself, “What is at the heart of this word?” I may end up [using] a common word that speaks to the audience and does not alienate. The goal is to know your audience so you know the words that move. That illuminate. Emote.”

— Gregg Hinthorn

6. Write letters to different people

This writing exercise helps you: Write engaging and delightful email newsletters.

Your subscribers’ inboxes are bursting with emails. If you want to make sure your newsletter stands out, make it personable.

Rather than treat your subscribers like a number on your list, treat them like you would your BFF. And what better way to practice writing to your BFF than to draft up an actual letter to your closest pals?

For this quick writing exercise, pick someone who you’re close to like:

  • Your past self
  • A close friend
  • A relative

And write a letter to them (no need to mail it).

Writing letters to people you’re comfortable and close with helps you get familiar with personable writing so it can shine through in your email newsletters. When your audience enjoys your content, you’ll have an easier time promoting your offerings and making a living through your email list.

Pro tip: Keep all the letters you write. You can come back to them and use phrases for newsletter content.

7. Write about your day

This writing exercise helps you: Be direct and extract key ideas.

Your readers are busy and they need you to get straight to the point. When writing blog posts, newsletters, and other marketing copy, learning to prune down your writing to contain only the key points is a valuable skill.

Brevity and clarity are your friends. Not only will it make your writing more enjoyable to read, but it also makes your readers more likely to read your content (and make it to your call-to-action).

To practice pruning your prose, write about your day. A lot of things happen during the day, but not everything that happens is worth sharing.

For this writing exercise, only write down what’s important. And after you write about your day, go back and see if there are any other points you can eliminate.

8. Rewrite email subject lines

This writing exercise helps you: Craft highly clickable subject lines.

Want to stay out of the spam folder? Write better subject lines. Since 69% of people mark emails as spam solely on the subject line, a great one will not only get more opens, it’ll also keep you in your subscriber’s inbox!

For this writing exercise, head into your inbox; it’s a goldmine of inspiration. Rewrite and improve subject lines from your favorite brands. If you want help, use CoSchedule’s Subject Line Tester to grade your subject line and offer improvements.

writing exercises
CoSchedule’s Subject Line Tester helps you learn how to write email subject lines. Image via CoSchedule.

Don’t forget when you use ConvertKit, you can A/B test two subject lines, helping you figure out the most click-worthy one for every newsletter you send.

9. Practice turning product features into benefits

This writing exercise helps you: Write copy that converts.

There’s a quote in the business-writing world: “Features tell, benefits sell.”

Product features are a yawn and they don’t evoke emotion in the same way the benefits do. To liven up your writing—and write wildly convincing copy—turn product features into customer benefits.

For this writing exercise, take a look around and pick a product. Start listing out all the features. Then, turn each feature into a benefit.

When working out the benefits, ask yourself, “why would someone care about this?

Let’s do a quick example about an exercise bike to get you started:

writing exercises

Although both columns talk about the same idea, the benefit column is much more enjoyable to read (and it will convert better, too).

Transformational coach, Denise Morrison, uses benefits over features to sell her ebook:

writing exercises
Image via Denise Morrison.

Notice she doesn’t say, “you’ll get a 30 paged ebook”. Instead, she mentions how through her ebook, you’ll learn actionable steps for immediate confidence!

10. Rewrite and edit past work

This writing exercise helps you: Polish your writing and understand your weaknesses as a budding writer.

Every professional writer will tell you their first draft is anything but memorable; the real magic happens through editing. Editor and content creator Gregg Hinthorn notes that the difference between an amateur and a professional writer is the editing process:

“The professional [writer] knows that every time you edit, it is like a rock under a stream of water. The more edits, the smoother and rounder the rock gets.”

— Gregg Hinthorn

@hinthornHow to tell if you’re a writing professional. ##TikTokPartner ##LearnOnTikTok♬ original sound – Gregg Hinthorn

Not sure what to look for beyond basic spelling and grammar? Freelance editor Kieran Tie has great editing tips in this Twitter thread like:

  • Use implicit analogies in moderation
  • Replace negative phrases with positive ones
  • Read your work aloud for any off-sounding sentences
  • Remove phrases like “for example” and “in other words”
  • Replace adverbs with descriptive verbs
writing exercises
@kieran_tie provides helpful editing tips on Twitter. Image via Kieran Tie.

As you edit more of your work, you’ll notice your strengths and weaknesses. Take note and find the appropriate writing exercise to help you improve your weaker areas.

How to make the most of your writing exercises

The above writing drills will put you on a path to become a confident writer. You can maximize your writing exercises by:

  • Embracing the waste paper basket: Not every piece you write will be Pulitzer Prize-worthy, and that’s ok. In an interview with the National Center for Writing, Margaret Atwood—author of The Handmaid’s Tale—said: “[D]on’t be afraid to throw things out, and by the way, when you’re writing, nobody’s seeing it except you…If you then decide that this isn’t where you want to go, that this isn’t what you want to put out there, there’s the waste paper basket. You have complete freedom while you are writing.” Take the pressure off by realizing your writing doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • Realizing that writer’s block happens to everyone: Although it’s frustrating, writer’s block is normal. Rather than feel discouraged, try freewriting or just give yourself a break and come back when you’re ready to write.
  • Keeping the good stuff: Your writing exercises might have nuggets you can use in real-life copy. Save your best work because you never know when it’ll come in handy.

Becoming a better writer

The best way to become a better writer is to make writing a daily habit. At only ten minutes every day, these writing exercises are quick, enjoyable, and practical.

Put these short writing exercises to good use and start your email newsletter using ConvertKit! Sign up for your free account today!

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Dana Nicole

Dana is a freelance writer who works closely with B2B SaaS brands to create content people enjoy reading. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sipping on a warm cup of tea and reading a good book (the scarier, the better). See what she’s up to at www.dananicoledesigns.com

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