What is Creative Writing? Well, think of it this way... our brains are constantly absorbing a vast amount of data, and when this data is processed and then expressed as useful information, it is done so in a manner which is specific to an individual - and often creative. So, we all write creatively – every day... every time that someone writes an email, sends a text, jots down a shopping list, scrawls out a post-it reminder... yes – this is Creative Writing.
Different forms of Writing There are of course many different writing forms: short stories, novellas, poetry, articles, etc., and each of these have their own features. Ultimately, there is no hard-and-fast rule though... no-one can say that a piece of writing is not valid – only that it does not conform to a standard.
Getting Started It might be the case that you have always wanted to write a story, but are not sure where to begin. Well, just try to write something - anything. Describe a scene, consider some characters – or set down a dialogue between two people. In your mind, try to picture a scenario. It might perhaps be something that you remember from your day – a conversation in a bus, a snapshot view of a shop you were in, or maybe an interesting looking building.
Once you begin to write down the situation that you picture in your mind, then you can begin to develop a plot by asking questions – such as: Why is this scene occurring...? Who is involved? For example, you may have pictured a lottery ticket lying on the paving stones on a busy precinct. Perhaps you might ask what it is doing there... Did it fall out of someone's pocket? Is it still valid? What would happen if someone found it? Would they take it back into the shop? Would they hand it in, or try to cash it? What would happen next?
Often, the best way to get this type of plot construction working, is to let a character 'guide' you through the adventure. You will probably be surprised at where the character goes, and what the character says, but run with it. You will soon find that the story will start to pull itself together.
Establishing good habits for Writing It is good practice to write something every day, even it is just one paragraph. But what if you find that you have fallen out of the habit, or can’t motivate yourself to write anything at all?
Perhaps you could try following one of these suggestions:
Rewrite one of your old stories from another character’s point-of-view.
Edit someone else’s story – ask yourself whether or not the author has been too verbose, whether the phrases make sense, whether there could be better use of alliteration, rhythm, etc.
Join a local Writer’s Circle for a term, and attempt the exercises set by the tutor. Aim to be involved in any discussions.
What about Writer's Block? Once you have started writing regularly, you may be aware of the phenomenon known as 'Writer's Block' - don't panic! This is completely natural. Many creative people have a deep-seated fear that their ideas will eventually dry up.
However, there are several options to overcome this problem:
Use a ‘random word selection’ process to generate ideas – this might involve (for example) flicking through a business telephone directory or a newspaper, and selecting an advert as a starting-point for a scenario.
Set yourself a personal challenge – attempt to write a story / article for a competition with a suggested title (regardless of whether you enter it or not) in a single day.
Keep a diary for a week, jotting down the specific details of each day's events – review the diary the following week – this may provide you with an interesting situation as a starting point for a piece of fiction.
And don't forget – "... there's a story around every corner."