A Creative Writing Exercise

While in Psych 443, a course on the psychology of creativity at the University of Michigan, I participated in an exercise that explored creative writing and the importance of gestating on creative works. Personally, I found the exercise to be fascinating and fulfilling. It was a low-stakes, but highly rewarding, opportunity to flex my creative muscles, and for the sake of the creative-types across the Feeding Curiosity community I’m going to share the exercise. Below I will outline the steps, feel free to follow along and participate yourself. If you’d like, post the results in the comment section below.  

What you’ll need:

A pen or pencil. 


Some time (at most, 30 minutes). 

We wrote by hand, and I’d recommend it, but feel free to type. 


  1. Read the prompt but don’t begin writing. 

    1. Prompt: A character finds something he or she has no intention of returning. 

    2. The prompt came from NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction

  2. Think it over.

    1. It may be helpful to write down, by hand, the following: What’s the problem? Outline a problem that needs to be solved. Life and storytelling are about conflict; in what way can your conflict be addressed? 

  3. Incubation

    1. Step away. Take 10-20 minutes and don’t actively work on your problem/story. The best task to do during this time is a physical but not too demanding task - something you can go on autopilot for (e.g. a shower, prepare a meal, go for a drive, etc.)

  4. Set a timer for 3 minutes and begin!

    1. Don’t stress about it. Trust the process and let it flow. 

Now that you’ve finished writing, sit back and read what you’ve read. Again, feel free to post what you’ve written. You’d be surprised how much other people can benefit from your writing, but they’ll never have the opportunity if you don’t share it. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t take my own advice, so I’ve gone ahead and included my results below. Let me know what you think and I hope you enjoyed the exercise.



“Sibel’s husband had been married once before, about six years ago. Her name didn’t matter to Sibel but she was still haunted by her ghost. When she met Aaron he was in his mid-thirties - a pleasant, well-off, widower with an honest desire to reform a loving relationship. After years of late nights, dinners on the coast, and soft-lit mornings, Aaron proposed. The only reason Sibel denied his request was because he used the same ring from his previous marriage, but soon after he corrected his mistake and they wed in Greece. 

What Sibel saw now, on the floor below an open journal, was the same ring she had seen once before, and hoped not to see again. She stared at its brilliant glow - caught in the morning sunlight - and considered its meaning. Then, slowly, softly, and after much time, Sibel picked up the shimmering ring and placed it in her blouse pocket. While the weight of the ring was heavy in her blouse, her chest felt light.”