Creative Voices: An overview

From 2018–2019, our study of writers’ inner voices provided the basis for a series of workshops with creative writing groups in and around County Durham. The events were facilitated by John Foxwell and David Napthine (Writer in Residence, Hearing the Voice) and culminated in a full-day workshop on ‘Creative Voices’, which took place in Newcastle upon Tyne in May 2019. The aim of the workshop was to demonstrate how our research into inner voices could be connected with the practice of writing.

Here we present the exercises we created for the Creative Voices workshop, alongside our research into the way writers experience the presence, agency and voices of the characters they create and how these might be accounted for. We also consider what’s going on when we ‘think’ outside of writing, and the kinds of inner voices which we are both producing and listening to all the time in everyday life.

Perhaps the most important thing we found in our research – and something that’s worth bearing in mind as you explore the materials on this part of the site – is that all writers are different. There was a great deal of variation in pretty much every area we asked about, from whether or not writers ‘heard’ and/or ‘saw’ their characters, to whether or not they controlled them, to whether or not the character ‘hung around’ after the story was finished. Since the exercises are based on what these writers told us, they are also quite varied – so there are some you might find useful, and some just might not strike a chord with you.

The information and resources in this section of the site are all available to download in a single booklet: ‘Creative Voices: Resources for writers’.


Our creative writing exercises cover four distinct themes: inner speech, dialogue, enactive imagination, and agency. Each exercise can be completed alone, with a partner, or as an activity at a creative writing group. We recommend that you work through the exercises in numerical order – click on the buttons below to find out more.

1. Inner speech
2. Dialogue
3. Imagination and the senses
4. Agency
5. Additional exercises
6. Further resources