creative writing

Freewriting

So you’ve got the itch to write. You want to tell a story fabricated by your own narrative, interweaving a sense of meaning through the piece with imagery, sense of place and characterisation. It may be intimidating to know where to begin all this. You’ve opened your notebook to a fresh, untainted page, biro in hand. And nothing. Have no fear. There is a simple remedy.

A fresh, untainted page

Controversial opinion: there is no such thing as writers block. Certainly, there are periods where ideas and word don’t seem to roll together and acculumate as easily. But as per my first ground rule (in the previous creative writing post), there is no such thing as bad writing. It is important to write everyday: oil the cogs so to speak. The key is a little thing called ‘freewriting’.

Simply, this is where you just write, pen to paper, non-stop for a set amount of time. Usually I would say 10 to 15 minutes is enough to wet your appetite, but of course keep going if you feel like you are getting somewhere. This may sound intimidating, however it is a highly beneficial and method advocated in many creative writing workshops run by authors of varying forms. Choose a subject to write about: your earliest memory; what you did last week; the weather outside. Get words down on the page and if they don’t come, write ‘nothing’ until they do.

Look around the room. What strikes you?

Not only will this get rid of the scary blank new notebook feeling, it will form the basis of your sense of direction. It sets down the bare bones of something you can build up. For example, when I was writing about my experience of swimming at a young age, I mixed it with another story about a charcter getting drunk for the first time. These culminated into a story about a swimmer competing in a race as she examines her distorted relationship with her coach (which I may publish on here at some point). Think of what you want to write about. Prompts may include:

  • Your own experiences: the first time you rode a bicycle, baking as a young child, your first relationship. They say ‘write what you know’ and memories are the best way to do this (just be ready for them to change as the writing is reworked later on).
  • Evocative objects: look around the room . What strikes you? Pick it up, how does it felt, what does it smell like, how heavy is it, what would happen if you let go of it? If you are struggling to connect with anything, shoes can be extremely evocative. Where have they been, who might where them, what size are they and what does this indicate about the build of their owner?
  • Opening sentences: a strong opening to a story is crucial in order to capture the reader from the word ‘go’. Here are a few that have been extremely effective for me: ‘The key to hiding your identity is not something I will ever understand’; ‘Why did you bring me to the bloody circus?’; ‘They say the first thing you fall in love with are their eyes, but …’. Use these and come up with a few of your own.

Good luck with your writing, you never know where it will take you!

creative writing

The First Page

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.

A fresh page

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.

Read everything you can lay your hands on

Ground rules:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Writing prompts: Try to write everyday

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!)