How to Boost Your Creativity — Even If You’re Not a Natural Writer
Few individuals are born with a natural affinity for writing creative, sparkling prose. The rest of us work hard at it. Here’s an online editing tool that can help boost your creativity so your readers think you’re a natural-born talent.
The ProWritingAid editing tool is best known for helping writers find grammar errors and improve the clarity and style of their writing, but it also has some excellent features that can help boost creativity. When you are searching for the right editing tool for you, look for one that offers a comprehensive package of features like stylistic checks, contextual thesaurus, word clouds, and a word explorer.
Let’s check out a few of the tools ProWritingAid offers to see how they’ll boost your creativity.
A robust word explorer lets you make semantic leaps like a gazelle. Inspire yourself to build new ideas around the words you’re already using in your writing.
Choose a key word from your document and enter it into the word explorer. You’ll find alliterations, synonyms, rhymes, collocations, anagrams, phrases containing your word, clichés that use it, famous quotes that include it, and much more.
Let’s look at a fun example.
Imagine you’re writing a story about a quirky young mother who has always dreamed of opening a soup shop and she has finally saved the money to do it. But what should she call it? First you might explore words that alliterate with soup: saucy soups, satisfying soups, super soups. Hmm, some good ideas there but you don’t think you’ve quite hit the nail on the head.
You check synonyms for soups: gruel, chowder, broth. “Cruel gruel” leaps to mind, but again, it’s not quite right. A look at the clichés section shows some great ideas, and it’s here that you find your winner:
Take My Broth Away.
It’s good. Right?
You can also use the word explorer to add depth and layers to your written work.
Perhaps you are writing a nonfiction book about personal growth. You enter “mindfulness” into the Word Explorer and get a list of wonderful collocations like: path, effort, practice, energy, habit, application, goal, awareness, foundation, discipline, essence, meditation, diligence, cultivation, perseverance.
Or maybe you’re writing a novel is set in an Italian vineyard. Create an inspiration board with stunning images of Tuscany and overlay them with words like: vintner, grapes, sommeliers, Chianti, tastings, flagons, quaff, swirl, reek, uncork, intoxicant, casks, goblet, varietal, rosé, tannins, decant, cellars, barrels, Pinot Grigio, and Lambrusco. One glance at your board and you are immediately transported to the vineyards of your story.
The Word Explorer lets you use your own words to inspire and extend your ideas.
What exactly is a contextual thesaurus? Quite simply, it differs from a traditional thesaurus in that it takes the context of the word’s use into consideration.
Consider the sentence:
“I listen to the wind whisper in the trees as my steps wind through the deserted orchard.”
You have “wind” as in a gust of air or a breeze and “wind” as in zigzagging or weaving. Rather than confuse your readers so they need to reread your sentence to make sure they have the correct meaning, you could rephrase to:
“I listen to the breeze whisper in the trees as my steps weave through the deserted orchard.”
The contextual thesaurus gives you a list of optional synonyms for the words in your sentence from which to choose. And when it makes suggestions, the algorithm has already figured out from the surrounding words which meaning of “wind” you’re using, so it will suggest the correct set of replacements every time. Pretty neat, right?
You can also use this nifty tool to help you brainstorm new ideas. Our example sentence entered into the contextual thesaurus report brings up the following list for deserted:
Do any of these synonyms spark your imagination? Doesn’t forsaken bring up a more forceful image than deserted?
But the beauty of the contextual thesaurus is that you can activate it by simply double-clicking on any word in your content. You don’t need to run the report every time.
If you want a different way to look at your writing that will spark your creativity, create a word cloud from your content. A word cloud is an image made up of the words used in your writing, and the size of each word shows its frequency or importance.
Word clouds are a great way to see what ideas and words you’ve stressed in your work. Let’s look at an example from the reaping scene in the first chapter of The Hunger Games:
Look at the variety of words Suzanne Collins used. Each word packs a punch and makes readers see, hear, feel, and envision the scene at hand.
On the other hand, a word cloud of the first few chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland gives the reader a sense of whimsy with words like “wonder,” “golden,” and “rabbit.”
Another excellent use for word clouds is to spark the seed of an idea from one of the latest word clouds created in ProWritingAid’s public gallery.
Here’s one titled “Mengo Hill” that immediately gives you a sense of the story and inspires ideas of a dark atmosphere and dangerous times:
Did a shiver run down your spine as you read through the words and wondered why the larger ones are more relevant? Where does your imagination go? What characters come to life in your mind?
You can enhance your creativity with the right tools. Hopefully, you can see how these three boost your creativity no matter how much — or how little — you think you were given at birth.
And these tools are wonderful inspirational motivators when you’re working on your own personal growth. You can find enlightenment and stimulation from looking at your key words in new and different ways.
Not all online editing tools have these wonderful options. Do your homework and find the right editing tool that offers these and many more opportunities to boost your creativity and infuse your writing with clarity and inspiration.