Writing Tips - The Best Creative Writing

The term 'Wordsmith' is a new one. Wordsmith - I like it.

The writer at 73.   Oh, how time takes its toll on our physicality.
The writer at 73. Oh, how time takes its toll on our physicality.

Words engender feelings...feelings engender words.

The best Creative Writing appears to arise when we forget about outcome and just go with the flow. I think I can say that with some confidence. I’ve written many a story over the years. In the creation of those stories, when I’ve not felt I had to get something done, had put forward some message or persuade a reader to my way of thinking, those stories have come easily. They have readily fallen off the tips of my fingers on to type-writer or computer keyboard. Whereas when I’ve been working – and I mean working – in an endeavor to get some cathartic effect; to clear up something inside, the effort has caused me all sorts of soul-searching, feelings and angst. However, I’m not saying that this hasn’t been good for me.

Sailorboy Blue. Yours truly in his early 20s.

Yours truly at 23.   HMAS  Kimbla was my last RAN ship.
Yours truly at 23. HMAS Kimbla was my last RAN ship.

My first autobiographical novel didn't come easily. A lot of feelings prevailed.

I recall my autobiographical novel, “Sailorboy Blue.” It took me seventeen years to get around to writing it, and during the period I did so I was filled with all sorts of emotions, most of which were not pleasant. I was trying to explain to my prospective readers the way a teenager and man in his early twenties felt. At that age we are so vulnerable, so sensitized to our emotions. I guess in many respects we’re not fully grown up, and such feelings as ‘being in love,’ the trauma of separation, and all sorts of ego vulnerability, play their parts and we suffer because of it. Trying to get those feelings down on paper makes them reappear, and so it becomes a labor rather than a joy to write about them.


Where do a poet's words come from? Why so many feelings?

On the other hand, if one is coming from desiring to tell people about how we felt about something less personal, something which deeply interested us at the time yet did not unduly hurt us, the words flow both readily and painlessly. Yet those words contain every bit and maybe more depth. They flow from something greater than the ego self. A bit like poetry. You wonder where they came from.


Typical Aeradio set up in 1960s

Searchtime Expired resulted from two years as an aeradio operator in Papua-New Guinea.  In retrospect, I comprehend the emotional aspects of such work - It was full on!
Searchtime Expired resulted from two years as an aeradio operator in Papua-New Guinea. In retrospect, I comprehend the emotional aspects of such work - It was full on!

My first novel came from my life as an aeradio operator.


A couple of days ago I picked up the first book I wrote: Searchtime Expired – a novel? Well, maybe. I wrote the first draft on an old portable Olivetti typewriter back in the days when you had to leave double-space and put in two sheets of carbon paper. Over the years I’d re-written a page or three here and there. Even added a sub- plot. But I hadn’t really looked at it in a decade or more. That book never made it with a publisher. Lots of written evaluation and professional feedback; no actual rejection slips, so it couldn’t have been too bad. I had a handful of copies printed in Malaysia. Felt there was no point any longer to hanging onto those bulky foolscap and A4-size manuscripts. They were just taking up cupboard space and had become a breeding place for paper-mites.

After all these years it was as if someone else had written it.

Anyway, I picked the book up and started to read it. Lo, it was as if someone else had written that book. I found myself enjoying it. Yes, enjoying it immensely. Even though I know the story backwards, I experienced myself visualizing the scenery, sympathizing and identifying with the characters, feeling the very atmosphere I’d written about all those years ago. It took me back to those places in which I’d set the story…way…way back to the 1960s.

MacQuarie Island, where 'Sailorboy Blue' was written and the foundation of 'The Sealers' laid down.

MacQuarie Island Isthmus under snow.  My home for twelve months from Oct 1976-77.
MacQuarie Island Isthmus under snow. My home for twelve months from Oct 1976-77.

Reading 'The Sealers' also aroused in me feelings.

Over the next few days I read Searchtime Expired all the way through and felt the emotions it generated in me. I never thought this would happen. But I realized at the end that this a damn fine story…well written at that. I feel quite proud.

So today I grabbed another book, my novel: The Sealers. 53 chapters, 373 pages – one of my biggest. I find I’m also enjoying this one. It’s a fine yarn set around the shennanigans of the sealers of yester year and the brutality of Colonial Sydney in 1810.


I look at my bookshelves.

I look at my bookshelves and my eyes now fall upon a shelf of books which are all identical in size (though not thickness) and color and know that each of them is my own work. Just over a dozen books covering all manner of subjects: fiction, non-fiction, an autobiography, and I can see that much of my life is set out there. It’s something that, perhaps when I’m gone from Planet Earth, my family and perhaps my friends will find as interesting to read about as I’m now doing.


HMAS Barcoo. One of my old ships.

Small ships, the River Class Frigates were just over 300 feet long, weighed around 1450 tons and, when I was on her, carried about 100 crew. She served in World War Two but was still in service in 1955-56 when I was a 19 and 20 year old sailor.
Small ships, the River Class Frigates were just over 300 feet long, weighed around 1450 tons and, when I was on her, carried about 100 crew. She served in World War Two but was still in service in 1955-56 when I was a 19 and 20 year old sailor.

Let your own light shine!

So to all those writers and would-be writers I say as it says in the ‘Good Book’: “Do not hide you light under a bushel, but let in shine forth for the entire world to see.” If you fail to get your novel published then at least get it printed up in book form. Sure, save it to your hard disk. Sure, save it too some back-up device. But more important: make it tangible to both the touch and the eye. Have it printed. Keep it where you can see it, handle it, feel its weight. Doing so could make all the difference to your giving up on being a writer, or going on to be one of the world’s greats.

I hope you enjoyed reading The Best Creative Writing. Now get to doing it!


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