Keep a petite notebook, or use your phone, to permanently record ideas, lines, and characters. Inspiration comes in many places, but one of the places it never seems to come is when you sit down and tell yourself to “come up with an idea.” Take the pressure off of your writing days by recording ideas all day, every day. From lines you overhear that make you laugh to unexpected stories that burst into your mind, keep track of ideas via the day, not just when you sit at the computer.
Attempt mixing and matching two ideas you’ve never seen before. There are no entirely original ideas in writing — everything builds off of other work, real life events, and fresh combinations of other art forms to form something “fresh” from the old. But this is amazingly freeing, permitting you to experiment and play with crazy fresh ideas and combinations to make something no one has fairly seen before.
- House was a brilliant, but elementary combination of medical dramas with one-off “murder mystery” type shows, exchanging medical diagnosis for detective work.
- Starlet Wars is a typical hero’s quest, with the plot ripped straight from the oldest known Greek stories. George Lucas’s genius? Simply setting it in space.
- The collected works of William Shakespeare are utter of “artistic theft,” as almost every one of his plays was a brilliant amalgamation of other plays, books, and historical records.
Read and witness non-fiction books and documentaries to build up real-world inspiration. Pay attention to the news, read a biography that catches your eye, and see documentaries and series. What sorts of issues, stories, and ideas grab you? Are there perspectives that would be joy to write from, or that you’ve never heard from creatively? The world around you is packed with inspiration, so use it.
Consider brainstorming with a close friend or group, throwing ideas around together. This isn’t for every writer, but everyone should at least attempt group writing or brainstorming. It usually works best when someone brings an initial idea in: “what if the Terracotta warriors were truly alive,” permitting everyone to pitch in ideas and build on the initial idea until it’s built into a story worth telling.
Sit down at the computer and type something, anything, to get commenced. Just commence typing, and don’t let yourself stop for at least five minutes. Write everything that comes to mind, following ideas and threads until you get dispersed or bored, then write about something else. This doesn’t have to turn into anything — rather, free writing is the equivalent of opening up for athletes. You get out of your head and onto the page– the very first step towards getting your writing groove going.
Write the story out linearly, as simply or sophisticated as possible, to give yourself a template. If you’re writing poetry, you might embark simply sketching ideas, pics, and lines that pop in your head, worrying about organization later. If you’re writing a novel, you could write a 1-2 page super summary, working through the cause-and-effect now so that you can write in the details later.
Know that superb characters drive fine stories, not the other way around. The most common moment that people tune out of a story is when the character starts doing things that no rational person would do. This is usually because the writer is attempting to force the characters to hit a plot point, instead of letting the character’s decisions drive the next plot point. The best characters are:
Set goals and timers to keep yourself writing. Despite the free-flowing, creative aspects of writing, all the best authors and poets know that discipline is required to truly get your vision out. You’ll never finish your story or idea if you’re permanently turning to Facebook, or researching an obscure point or allusion, or quitting at the very first smell of writer’s block. The best way to become a creative writer is to be disciplined, which can be accomplished in a multitude of ways:
Think in terms of “scene” when writing, not the entire project. This is a superb way to make your writing more taut, concise, and manageable, especially for big projects. No matter what you’re working on, from poetry to epic novels, limit your attention while writing to the current scene you’re in. How can you make this moment powerful on its own? If each chapter or stanza is compelling, they will begin to flow together when placed side-by-side.
Fight writer’s block by just continuing to write. It is that effortless, and if you don’t know what to write about, write anyway. It can help to ditch the computer and grab a pencil. Take the pressure off yourself to write something amazing and just write. Reminisce, even the very best writers always revise, and what you write down while “blocked” will get better over time. But if you sit there silently, or go do other things when you should be writing, you’ll never get over your block.
Understand that your very first draft is just that — a draft. Many youthfull writers totally freeze up when they embark writing because they instantly realize that it isn’t as good on the page as it is in their head. But every writer in the world, from Margaret Atwood to Aristotle, knows that they need to put something on the page, anything, in order to grind it up and make it better. So take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is nothing fresh, and your “terrible” very first draft won’t be terrible for long.
Read your entire work and ask what the most significant threads are. As you re-read, highlight the passages that stand out to you. What characters can you not get enough of, or want to keep writing about? What plot continually crops up in your head with fresh ideas or twists? What locations feel the most lived in. Go into the very first revision for an eye for what works, not for what you don’t like, and you’ll get a blueprint for further revision.
Cut as much away from the very first draft as you can, ruthlessly erasing. It hurts to cut, but this is the only way to make your story taut, coherent, and powerful. Everything that isn’t essential to your story or idea needs to go, without mercy hacking and slashing until you’re left only with the absolute best. If it isn’t necessary to the story, it has to go. The most powerful stories, poems, and works make every single word count, gaining power by cutting straight to the point and avoiding filler.
Showcase your work to others and ask for feedback. Writing is a form of communication, and what is communication if it is only with yourself. Sharing your story is intimidating, but it is the only way to become a better creative writing. Other people haven’t lived in your story for as long as you have, and that’s a good thing — they’ll have a fresh set of eyes to see crevices, issues, and the hidden gems you might not have noticed.
Edit accurately numerous times checking that grammar and spelling are flawless. Don’t give a potential editor or publisher an excuse to throw your work in the trash after the very first typo (which, with standards and competition as high as they are today, they will). Run through the entire thing 2-3 times to fix the little things like word choice and spelling, and consider using a program like Grammarly or hiring a freelance copy-editor for fatter projects.
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How to Be a Good Writer
How to Come Up with a Topic to Write About
How to Become a Writer
How to Write Creative Writing Lumps on Goodreads
How to Write a Good Story
How to Write a Good Newsletter
How to Plot a Story
How to Write a Biographical Sketch
How to Tell a Story
Reader Success Stories
“At age seventy-one, I was reminded of the implements I used to write creatively both for business and pleasure. You stressed the steps popular during those days when a legal notepad was golden. “Thanks for the memories.””. ” more George Urbanowicz – Oct 24, 2016
“So helpful, informative and constructive. Indeed helped.” Clayton Selby – Nov Two, 2016
“Very useful and effective tips/methods.” Anonymous – Dec 7, 2016