I have always loved creative writing–the rush of creativity, playing with language and metaphors, and the finished product. I read it, I write it, and I have learned a couple things in the process. Creative writing can be a real challenge for most people, especially if they are not already creatively inclined. But I DO believe that if you have a genuine interest and desire to get better at creative writing, then these 5 tips will help you immensely! So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
1: Write every single day, no matter how busy you are
This is a classic step to becoming a better writer, but needs mentioned nevertheless. Writing every day can be compared to practicing an instrument. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes. I taught myself guitar a few years ago, and as of today I lead worship at my youth group and can play pretty much any song you give me. How did I do it? I found a method that worked best for me to learn–by mastering one song at a time. This same principle can be applied to mastering creative writing, or at least becoming confident in your skill.
Here are some methods that have worked well for me to build my own creative writing skills. Try each one out, or come up with your own! Anything that gets you writing every day.
1. Hundred-Word Stories: These are exactly what they sound like, and are a real challenge to master! The goal is to create a story that is exactly 100 words–no more, no less. Plot, character, and climax all in one. It’s difficult! Now, don’t think you have to squeeze a novel into 100 words, but try to have a main character (you don’t even need to name your MC if you don’t want to), and some event/person that affects them in some way. You can make it funny, serious, romantic, or anything else that inspires you.
2. Poems: This is my personal favorite type of creative writing. I write poems almost every day, especially during the school year when I’m bored in class (I’m convinced that boredom is the best way to get the creative juices flowing)! Poems are wonderful because they are perfect for portraying any type of feeling, in any way. It’s the best way to learn how to play with words and expand vocabulary without feeling stressful. Now, writing poems can become stressful if you put too much pressure on yourself to get it perfect. Don’t feel like you have to make your poem rhyme every time, or have it be a certain number of stanzas. The best poems are the ones that flow, and don’t sound like they have been doctored to a formula. Below are two examples of poems I have written. Both rhyme, but one is very short and sweet, and just a little bit humorous. The other does not have a strict rhyme scheme, but does have set stanzas.
Ode to Chapstick
Will I find it hard and cold?
Cast away from utter bliss?
A soft array of sustenance
Waits to give my lips a kiss
I’m sorry I don’t have
That same fire in my soul
But when your eyes looked into mine
Back to your own red crackling coal
I saw your mind resolve and harden
Then your hands move down to follow
As you tried to give me your own flame
Fear not allowing you to swallow
I pushed your hands away
Oh! how did that sun ray bounce
Reflecting in the mirror behind us
And resting by the clock announced
Its bleak and raw departure
Now we were both left inside the dark
That grew ever colder and colder
As the night howl blew in dreary gloom
Just one pane from shaking shoulders
You looked at me in deadened sadness
Anger brought heat, but you had none
All that was left was the drop of tears
Pooling across that sea-glass floor
Both of these poems are final drafts. I can assure you that they did not sound like this when I first wrote them! But re-reading your poetry can help immensely in getting across exactly what you want to say. It is definitely one of those things that gets easier and more fun as you go along!
3. Small exercises: If you don’t want to go into complicated projects every day, or you feel you are just too busy to invest, pick an exercise or two just to keep your brain moving! Pick a word and write an acronym for it, or journal about something funny that happened at work that day. Describe someone. Describe a feeling. A voice. The possibilities are endless!
Remember–it doesn’t have to be extraordinarily complicated or a masterpiece every time as long as you are writing something daily. Just figure out what works for you and stick with it!
2: Practice different types of creative writing
If you know anything about children, you will know that no two children are exactly alike, even twins! Each has different interests. Some enjoy games, others crafts, and others prefer just to people-watch from the safety of the stroller. And as they grow, they continue to define what they enjoy doing, and, in effect, pursue that interest. This concept also applies to creative writing. There are many different types of creative writing–short stories, poetry, novels, essays, songs, drama, and many, many more! It can be difficult to determine your “niche” right away. But one of the best ways to do this is by trying out the different styles!
As I mentioned above, I most enjoy to write poetry, as well as short stories. This is because I am pretty impatient, and though I love the idea of writing a novel, I don’t think I’d be able to finish! It’s not that I haven’t tried (actually, I have flat-out failed many times, which is annoying because I have sooo many great novel ideas), it’s just not my niche. Do you enjoy telling stories? Maybe novel writing would be better suited for you! Or maybe you are like me and short stories are more your thing. Are you dramatic? Maybe you have a killer play in mind that you would love to see performed someday. You know yourself best, so think about what you most enjoy and choose a style or two that would match! Dive headfirst into it and learn all you can! And if it doesn’t feel right to you, well, there are plenty of other writing styles to choose from! The important thing is to familiarize yourself with the different styles so you have at least a basic understanding of it, and then develop what you enjoy best.
3: Wean yourself off of prompts
Now that you have found your niche, you want to start writing right away! And one of the most popular learning tools of today are writing prompts. They are popular all over the internet, and you can find them for almost any writing style. Now, if you are just beginning as a writer, then these can be a wonderful resource for you. But if you have already dabbled in creative writing and have a grasp on the techniques, then I would encourage you not to use writing prompts.
Writing prompts are sort of like “fast food” for the writer. They are creative, inspiring, and get your brain moving without you even thinking about it. But like fast food, we can get so used to it that coming up with our own ideas seems like a chore. We can get “fat and slow” in our creative writing. I have seen people that literally cannot write anything without having an idea given to them. They are still crawling when they could get up and run! Again, if you are just starting out, then prompts might be the best way for you to learn. But don’t dwindle on them too long, and if you feel able, don’t use them at all! The more you come up with your own ideas, the more your writing will flourish and grow into a style that is all your own. That is when you will be a true writer.
4: Read (a lot!)
Have you ever heard the saying “the best writers are first readers”? Let me tell you that this is a completely true statement. Thomas Jefferson once said “I cannot live without books,” and he was an incredible author, writing our very own Declaration of Independence! All throughout history, it is evident that all the best writers were indeed avid readers. There are two main reasons for this:
First, without reading, it is very hard to develop maturity of language and vocabulary. Your writing doesn’t have to include all sorts of obscure and outdated words, but it does give you freedom to have exactly the right word you need! Words are absolutely beautiful; don’t limit yourself with them! It’s like you have a toolbag, and the more words you know, the more tools you have to work with. A professional carpenter certainly can create a more sophisticated house than a man armed only with a hammer and nails!
Second, reading develops a maturity of understanding. When you read a book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, you are reading both the story the author illustrates and a small part of the author’s heart itself. It is impossible for an author to keep his own thoughts and feelings out of a creative writing piece, for that is the very fuel that feeds the fire. When you tap into this, it adds a tiny piece of that author’s heart to your own, and that in turn has the power to influence your own writing. Reading gives you the ability to experience every crisis and joy that the world has ever known, and it takes away the naivety that all young writers have. It gives wisdom without age, and matures your writing like no other practice will! So pick up a book today. You won’t regret it 🙂 If you want some starting suggestions, check out some of my favorites here!
5: Get feedback
We have already gone over some great ways to develop your creative writing skill, and the final step now is to get feedback on what you have written! Even with daily practice, there’s nothing like having a professional eye to judge your work. I have often gone to my English teacher to ask for advice, or shown my paintings and drawings to my art teacher to get a second opinion on a piece. This has been immensely helpful in learning new ways to look at my work! Asking for help humbles you, and you are always better for it. Find someone close to you, a teacher or an old college professor, and show them what you have been working on! Don’t be shy about it! If you don’t feel comfortable showing your writing to someone in person, there are tons of websites on the internet that are made specially for giving feedback to other writers such as Wattpad or Figment.
And that’s it! I hope that you have learned something from this post, and I wish you luck on your creative journey! Please feel free to share what you have written with me, I would love to read it! Also, pin the photo below to save this article 🙂
If you liked this, be sure to check out How to Find Creative Inspiration When it’s Nowhere to be Found for more tips on your creative journey!