7 Tips for Creative Writing
If you want to write a story, but aren't sure what to write about or where to start, a good place to begin is by writing down every idea that comes to your mind. At this stage in the writing process, you aren't trying to think of only the good ideas; write down everything that you can think of! Make a list, writing everything until you can't think of anything more.
Now, take some of those ideas and expand on them. Branch out through your mind and write down everything you can think of pertaining to each idea. You can do this for as long as possible, but the idea here is that you're putting down the basis for your story.
With poetry, the process is the same, but the execution is different. WIth a story, ideally you will want several in-depth ideas that flow along with several different themes. Poetry is much more simplistic in nature, often staying within one theme, and few core ideas to support that theme.
When you are finished writing out your ideas on the sheet of paper, find the one idea that you like best. This may seem like the first step, but often times the idea that you've thought of the most supporting points will be the idea you can continue to write for a long time.
2. The First Line.
The first lines to any piece of work are quite possibly the most vital to anyone who wishes to be published. The start to a story will either grab the reader's attention or turn them away; a daunting prospect! But you have your ideas, and you have scenes in your head. If you're writing a poem, perhaps you have a few short lines that you're ready to write down. You put your fingers to your keyboard, your pen to the paper...
...Your mind outputs a busy signal. You had a great line just three seconds ago, where did it go?
Instead of trying to remember that amazing first sentence, try instead to simply write anything else. You can always go back and add more as you think of it. If you're one of many people that doesn't like to plan ahead, you may find that the line you had initially thought of doesn't work with what you've written. This is okay; the draft you're writing is not the draft you're publishing. It's going to change.
Starting to write, even if you don't like where it's going, is better than simply staring at a blank page waiting for the words to come to you. Sometimes, you need a little creative push to get the words out. Dive in, be fearless, and most of all, have fun!
3. Dealing with Writer's Block
Alternate title: What to do when you run out of ideas.
Walk away. Put down the pen, step away from the computer. Breathe. Chances are, you've just exhausted your mind of those creative juices and need some time to recharge. Go have a shower, eat some grapes, and take some time for yourself for a while. When you come back to your writing place, you may find that you're able to continue writing just as before.
So what happens if you just can't think of where to go in your writing? Or, even worse, you don't like anything that you've written and lost that creative spark that kept you going? That's alright too. Sometimes, you just don't see the potential in a piece any more, and you dislike looking at it because it just feels 'blah'. This can happen in as few as 500 words, or as late as 42,000. Keep all your drafts somewhere you can look them up again. Even though you don't want to write it anymore, there are lots of ideas buried in your words, and they can be a great starting point for your new work.
Another good way to dealing with writer's block is to meditate on your work. Step away from your writing, and do anything else for a day or two. While you're taking this break, keep your writing in mind. Think about your characters, your situations, and try and branch out into new ideas.
And remember: It's okay to erase whole paragraphs.
4. Think about your ending
It's a question every aspiring writer has to ask themselves, but the answer is not always apparent. How in the world do you end your story? Some writers can write several thousand words before they realize they don't know how to end their novel or short story, while others know how it's going to end well before they begin writing.
When you start writing, think ahead. What is the end goal of your characters in your story? How are you going to resolve your conflicts? In poetry, how are you going to tie together the theme of your piece to evoke a thoughtful response? The answers to these questions are going to vary from project to project, but it's important to remember that your story or poem has to end at some point.
A strong ending is vital to a good story. Does it tie together everything that the story has been alluding to? Have you closed off all your loose ends? Does your story end with a note of finality, or is it floating off into the horizon, loose and untamed? When you're writing the ending to your story, make sure that you do not leave your reader questioning. Everything should have fallen into place well before you write that final sentence. Your closing line should reflect the victories - or the losses - of your subject, and create a feeling of conclusion.
Choosing a writing environment changes from author to author. Some people prefer to write in a cafe, while others are more suited to writing at home. A good working environment is crucial to focus, as writing in a busy, distracting environment will detract from the task at hand.
If you feel comfortable, you can even put on some music in the background. Music with little to no lyrics are best, as lyrics may sometimes distract you from your thoughts. Video game soundtracks are a great choice, because they are designed to be background noise during a game, while also being pleasant to listen to.
Lighting is equally important. Poor lighting conditions will make it hard to concentrate, strain your eyes, and over all make your writing session an unpleasant experience. Put yourself in a well lit room so that you do not strain yourself more than you need. If lighting in your favourite spot is dim, or it makes writing difficult, consider bringing a booklight or other unobtrusive lightsource to aid you.
Above all else, you should be comfortable wherever you choose to write.
What is your preferred writing location?
6. Get Involved with Writing Communities
You don't have to write alone! There are millions of people worldwide who are interested in writing. Look around your community and join clubs dedicated to sharing ideas and information! Many of them are free, and full of people that are willing to bounce ideas back and forth. You can also go online and join dedicated writing forums if you prefer. This is a great way to get your creative juices flowing, as well as meeting people with similar interests as you.
If you want to really push yourself to the limit and unlease all of your creative potential, look for writing contests around your area or online. Local newspapers, libraries, and community centers will sometimes want writing submissions that adhere to a certain theme, or you could go online and look for writing competitions. Participating will challenge you to go above and beyond your comfort zone, and if you win, you have a chance to win various prizes, even going to far as to get your work published. Talk about exposure!
Take advantage of any and all resources available to you in your area; you can learn a lot from other people, and it will make you a better writer as a result!
7. Dedication to your goals
The average novel is anywhere from 80,000 to 110,000 words. That is a huge amount of words to write, and also maintain a cohesive story with compelling characters, themes, challenges, and victories, all the while ensuring everything makes sense at the end of it all and you resolve all of your conflicts. It's a daunting amount of work, so how do you cope with it?
Set goals for yourself. Strive to meet a number of words per day so you don't exhaust yourself. At 1,000 words per day for an 80,000 word novel, you'd hit your goal in 80 days. That's not to say that it will be publisher ready in 80 days; after all, you still have to edit, revise, and then edit your revisions, but in 80 days you would theoretically have a working draft in order. That's a huge first step!
Sometimes you get ahead of your goals. You write 3,000 words in a day and you're feeling pretty good! You're ahead of the game, you can take a break, right? While taking a break is good for your mental health, don't forget about your project! Even if you aren't writing to progress yoru story, you can revise and edit parts that don't make a lot of sense, or even add little comments to keep your train of thought on track.
Writing is a passion for many. As with all passions, they are a lot of work, but worth it in the end!