Sharpen your Creative Writing skills for FREE!
Writing is a fantastic way to express yourself, in the form of an elegant short fiction story, epic love poetry, non-fiction articles, biographies, children‘s books... the possibilities are endless. For most of us who chose to write, it is a passion and we will do it regardless of the outcome; be it fame and fortune, or a shoebox full of scribbles to enjoy yourself later. But like all things we are passionate about doing, we want to be able to do them the best we possibly can.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve your creative writing skills. Creative writing courses are great, and there is nothing wrong with getting some professional reinforcement. However, if you can’t afford to take a writing class, or you don’t have the time to take one, here are some easy ways you can make your writing better for free.
Writers are Readers
Remember, the best free school is the “School of You“, many of the best authors are self taught. Also, if you are thinking about taking online, or correspondence courses to improve your writing then it is imperative that you be an independent learner.
If you find a writing course you would like to take, research it’s required reading list. Once you know what you will be reading in the class, buy the books or check them out at your local library. If you take the course you will have to buy the books anyway, so why not give them a shot on your own. If nothing else, you will have a jumpstart on the reading.
The best writers are avid readers, in fact for many it is the love of reading that leads to a yearning to write. There are literally hundreds of books written on the subject of writing and it’s art. There are two books I can highly recommend to any writer as a starting point.
On Writing, by famed novelist Stephen King , is not only a memoir on the history of his own writing passion. It is full of great advice on breaking into the freelance fiction business, and keeping the faith while trying to do so. And, being written by King, in his charismatic style, it’s a very good read as well.
If you are thinking about writing non-fiction a must read would be On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. It breaks non-fiction writing down and explains it’s many forms, such as articles, sports writing, and biographies. This book is a useful tool to help you improve the style, function, and voice of your original writings.
Have you ever written Fan-Fiction?
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the best ways to improve any skill is repetition, and writing is no different. If you want to be a better writer, you need to write more! Try to write something everyday. Keep a journal where you can dedicate 10 to 30 minutes a day to writing about anything. You can jot down character bios, or chart out a plotline you might use. Even if you can’t think of anything to write about, then just note what happened that day, or any random thoughts you have no matter how bizarre. Not only will this sharpen those writing teeth, it will also become a wealth of ideas. You never know what kind of gold you may one day find in a simple writing exercise to keep your juices flowing.
If you are creative, and relatively dedicated to a television show, movie, or book… you too can reap the benefits of fan-fiction. For those of you who are uninitiated, fan-fiction is fiction written by fans that is based on characters made famous by other people. These stories are usually shared online with other fans, which makes for great opportunities to get feedback on your writing prowess.
While you can’t really base a career around writing fan fiction (as far as I know), it can become a good tool to get your writing gears going. You’re exercising the form, style, and voice, of your writing, you are getting lots of reader reviews, which will help you examine your own work. At the same time you aren’t taking your work too seriously, because it’s only fan-fiction. This eliminates the fear of rejection we sometimes get when we go to share our work.
Make Technology Work For You
Ever since cavemen were inventing the squiggles to describe their various grunting noises, mankind has searched for ways to improve these squiggles and make them easier to understand. The first great innovation was the idea of a unified language, uniform spelling and sentence structure. The second great innovation was spell-check.
Using a word processing program can be a very helpful tool to enhance your writing power. A word processor can catch many spelling and grammar errors before you publish you work, as well as making the editing process less painful.
The most common programs are Microsoft Works Word Processor, and Microsoft Office Word. Most computers come with a standard version of one of these programs. They are not foolproof, so it’s always good to double check your work, and have someone else read it before you release it into the wild.
One of the main advantages of paying for a college course is to hear lectures by teachers and guest writers. In the past, attending a writing class would be the only way that many burgeoning writers could get the advice and knowledge of the experienced. Luckily, we now have the ability to access an overwhelming amount of information via the Internet. Many articles, eBooks, and free courses are available online to those who search.
A great wealth of knowledge is available on the video sharing site YouTube. Here you can find how-to videos on writing to help you learn at your own pace. A little searching will bring up interviews with seasoned authors, some of whom have their own channels you can communicate to them through. Also, you can find entire writing classes that have been recorded for you to virtually attend, from community college courses, to Ivy League school lectures. All for free.
Check out these videos on creative writing from the eHow, and scottishbooktrust channels.
- Let the Words Flow - FictionPress.com
World's largest short story, fiction, and poetry archive and community where writers and readers around the globe gather to share their passion.
- Unleash Your Imagination - FanFiction.Net
World's largest fanfiction archive and forum where fanfic writers and readers around the globe gather to share their passion.
Feedback is your Friend
An online writing community can really help you develop your work so that it is worthy of an audience. Many of these communities, like FictionPress (http://www.fictionpress.com), are free to join and post your work and come with a large audience of readers. Most of the readers are very helpful, they love to read, and are more than willing to let you know what they think of your work.
If you still think you could benefit from some good, old fashioned, face to face feedback, why not start a writers group. The basic idea is like a book club, only you write instead of read. This is a great way to share short stories, poems, and more, with a small audience of other writers. These groups can be formed for free, around your own schedule, and are a good way to develop your own voice and style. If you have many friends with a similar interest in writing, it may even present the opportunity for terrific writing collaborations.