How To Become More Creative With Your Writing
Creative Writing is Simple. Just tell the damn Story.
Dorothy Parker famously said:
“I hate writing. I enjoy having written.”
Don’t we all? We love the end result, the feeling of accomplishment and creative fulfillment.
That said, Being a creative writer can be tough work. Many people believe that writing creatively is easy, but it is a lot harder than many are apt to admit. It involves long hours, deep thought, research, and a flourishing imagination.
But the good news is that once it becomes a habit it becomes easier. The more you write, the easier it gets, just like any other habit.
For example, When I first began writing, it could take me 6 to 8 hours to write a short post. Today, I can start and finish a post in half of that time because I keep it up and running as a habit. My notes become stories, my stories become paragraphs, my thinking wanders over the page, and then I pour content into the computer.
And here are some simple ways to get your creative juices flowing.
Begin with an End in Mind
Knowing where you’re trying to go before you start is crucial for accomplishing your objective. Aristotle, the great philosopher called this teleology, which is the study of matters with their end or purpose in mind.
The same applies to writing as well. Every piece of writing, whether an individual blog or a book should have an end objective in mind. This end objective will be your unique selling proposition and you need to have a clearly-defined big picture perspective of how you’re going to achieve that objective over time. An end objective channelizes your creative ideas into a definitive result(read a completed story) and prevents loss of focus.
Each post in some way or the other should be tied to the bigger story and how the readers can benefit something from your expertise, be it learning something from your business acumen or even plain feel-good humor which a reader can associate with your writing style.
Just always remain focused on where you’re trying to end up. Even when the path is hazy, you’ve got to remember where you’re trying to go.
Research New Topics
Have you ever wondered how to make a specific recipe? Or how to drive a road roller? Research it!
A writer researches the things that interest them, or that their characters are interested in, in order to write a whole person. Specificity is the key to believability. Use it to your advantage.
Research is the bedrock of nearly all good writing, even poetry. We have to know the world beyond our own known world. We have to be able to make a leap into a life or time or geography that is not immediately ours. Often we will want to write out of gender, race, time. This requires deep research.
Yes, Google helps, but the world is so much deeper than Google. A search engine can’t hold a candle to all the libraries in the world where the books actually exist, live, breathe, and argue with one another. So go down to the library. Check out the catalogs. Go to the map division. Unlock the boxes of photographs.
If you want to know a life different from your own, you better try to meet it at least halfway. Get out in the street. Talk to people. Show interest. Learn how to listen. You must find the divine detail: and the more specific the detail, the better.
Please remember that mishandling your research is also your potential downfall. A writer stewing in his own juices will be soon be forgotten by the even unforgiving reader.
Expand Your Vocabulary
You hold the key to a better vocabulary. Some of the ways in which you can do it can be as follows.
Read, read, and read.
The more you read — especially novels and literary works, but also magazines and newspapers — the more words you’ll be exposed to. As you read and uncover new words, use a combination of attempting to derive meaning from the context of the sentence as well as from looking up the definition in a dictionary.
Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy.
Use whatever versions you prefer — in print, software, or online. When you uncover a new word, look it up in the dictionary to get both its pronunciation and its meaning(s). Next, go to the thesaurus and find similar words and phrases — and their opposites (synonyms and antonyms, respectively) — and learn the nuances among the words.
Use a journal.
It’s a good idea to keep a running list of the new words you discover so that you can refer back to the list and slowly build them into your everyday vocabulary. Plus, keeping a journal of all your new words can provide positive reinforcement for learning even more words — especially when you can see how many new words you’ve already learned.
Go back to your roots.
One of the most powerful tools for learning new words — and for deciphering the meaning of other new words — is studying Latin and Greek roots. Latin and Greek elements (prefixes, roots, and suffixes) are a significant part of the English language and a great tool for learning new words.
Play some games.
Word games that challenge you and help you discover new meanings and new words are a great and fun tool in your quest for expanding your vocabulary. Examples include crossword puzzles, anagrams, word jumble, Scrabble, and Boggle. (Find some word-game Websites at the end of this article.)
Engage in conversations.
Simply talking with other people can help you learn, discover new words. As with reading, once you hear a new word, remember to jot it down so that you can study it later — and then slowly add the new word to your vocabulary.
Finally, remember that you must practice putting your new words into your writing and speaking or risk not retaining them in your brain.
Start with a Question
Yes, start with a question within your mind and then go ahead and collect your thoughts to answer it. This always works.
Much of life and blog posts are paradoxes, not answers. Starting with the answer first can be terrifying (and worse, inaccurate or incomplete). We revisit the same ideas over and over again not because we’ve conclusively decided, but because each topic is worth thousands of conversations. We need the reminders, we meditate on the ideas, and we each have our own flavor and take on the issue.
The question is a crucial first step in the creative process. It gives impetus to the article, focuses and orients readers.
Some writers also start with questions(literally) to give that shock effect. Some writers make provocative statements in their introductions. And often it works great. Anyway, try to find your own trick and use it in the most effective way.
Here is a vivid example of a blog starting with a question:
“What is the charm of necklaces? Why would anyone put something extra around their neck and then invest it with special significance? A necklace doesn’t afford warmth in cold weather, like a scarf, or protection in combat, like chain mail; it only decorates. We might say, it borrows meaning from what it surrounds and sets off, the head with its supremely important material contents, and the face, that register of the soul…” (Emily R. Grosholz, “On Necklaces.” Prairie Schooner, Summer 2007)
So you just need to pose one question related to your topic and then provide your answer.
The point to be noted here is the initiation of “conversation streams” both into your mind and within your reader’s mind. The more the conversation, the more the creativity. Simple as that!!!
And Finally, Your Last Line is Important…….
Your last line makes or breaks your story. Pay special attention to it.
Nothing in life ever really begins in one single place, and nothing ever truly ends. But stories have at least to pretend to finish.
Don’t tie it up too neatly. Don’t try too much. Often the story can end several paragraphs before, so find the place to use your red pencil. Print out several versions of the last sentence and sit with them. Read each version over and over. Go with the one that you feel to be true and a little bit mysterious.
Don’t tack on the story’s meaning. Don’t moralize at the end. Don’t preach that final hallelujah. Have faith that your reader has already gone with you on a long journey. They know where they have been. They know what they have learned. They know already that life is dark. You don’t have to flood it with last-minute light.
Find some last-line grace. This is the true gift of writing. It is not yours anymore. It belongs in the elsewhere. It is the place you have created.
Your last line is the first line that everybody remembers long after your story has been read.
As Ben Franklin has rightly said.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”