Welcome to my first creative writing segment. If you’ve read my first blog post, then you’ll know that through a series of fortune events, I accidentally took a creative writing module this semester: and I cannot recommend creative writing enough.
So the chances are, whoever you are, you have some interest in creative writing, however vaguely. For starters, you are reading this blog. If you can read, then you can write. I came into my first creative writing session having not written a story for five years. All it takes is the desire to get something down and to stick with it.
Firstly, I should make clear that there are no rules to writing. It’s a fluid, uncontainable disease. That being said, I have made a quick list of top tips I can wholly recommend if you’re starting out, getting back into writing, or fancy looking over my take on it all.
- Nothing you write is ‘bad’: Everything you write in the initial stages of storming ideas is useful. Things you don’t like can be redrafted, the important thing is to just get your ideas down on paper and let them take their own shape. You’ll be surprised at how much detail works itself out through your pen onto the paper. Characters fall out, setting, dialogue, storylines. Of course, this won’t happen all the time. The key is to keep going, doing writing exercises, redrafting, getting inside the character’s mind (I will be posting writing prompts and exercises at a later date, keep your eyes peeled).
- Try to write everyday, or as much as you can: The only way to improve at something is to practise. Luckily for us, writing is completely free and accessible. Try to write in the morning before breakfast, on your lunchbreak or just before bed. Whenever you have time to spare. Although I would recommend using pen and paper over typing on the computer at first, do what feels best.
- Pay attention: Keep your eyes open. Watch the world working around you. Listen to interesting conversations (whilst being mindful of people’s privacy!). Often the best source of inspiration is things that happen to us. Seeing how people and dialogue play out in real life leads to real characters. Notice people’s oddities, what makes them stand out, the first thing you notice about them. For example, when you’re doing your shop at the local supermarket, did you hear the beautiful, strong voice from the next aisle over talking on the phone about her holiday to the Alps and how she climbed the mountains last summer; only for you to find an old woman when you went over? Take your earphones out and listen to the world passing you by.
- Read as much as you can: Read whatever you can lay your hands on: newspaper artiles, columns, poems, short stories, novels, essays. Find what you love. Absorb the array of different styles. See how different authors handle their characters, setting, themes. Jot down phrases you like, words that grab your attention, good openings or endings.
- No creative writing notebook is neat, a scruffy notebook with ideas is better than an empty one waiting for publishable work to be neatly written out.
Feel the writing itch yet? Grab yourself a notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the less intimidating the better. Open the first page and see what comes out. (Or keep your ears open for my next freewriting post!)