Paused for thought

Paused for thought

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Creative writing top tips

I went to a creative writing group years ago, before a successful if not short alternative career then motherhood took over my time and energy. One particular lesson that I took away and still follows me in everything I do now is to try try try. Try new things. Try old things long forgotten. Try the same things but from a different perspective. Get out your camera for example, take a photo of a flower: straight on; looking down; looking up. Apply that rule to all and before long your brain will start whirring. The writing, in my case, will come. Not all of it will be good but it will be there, slotting together slowly but decisively. 

The thing is, and the thing that we weren't told in that group, is that it takes longer for your confidence to catch up. Will other people like this? Will my future self like this? How can I make this better? Before long in a written piece there will be more words on the floor than on the paper. So I thought I would spend some time now that I am writing again looking back over some of the notes I took when I was in that group, primarily to boost my own creativity but along the way I thought it might be helpful to share my top 5 tips:

1. Try, try, try.
Keep going. Don’t stop, don’t spend time worrying, spend time writing. Write about different things. Write from different perspectives. Pick up a postcard and write a story centred on the picture. Write a back story for a family in an advertisement in a magazine. Write the biography of an inanimate object. Keep challenging and keep going. If something doesn’t work, try again, or try it differently. Write in a different room or space. I used to love taking my notebook to the park, quite aside from writing I’m sure I have made some of my best life decisions when in the great outdoors, opening up my mind and feeling positive.

2. Read widely.
Read everything. Newspapers, blog sites, autobiographies, factual literature, fiction across many genres. Notice the structure. Notice what makes you want to turn the page and find out more, or what makes you want to put the book or article down and loses your attention. Make a mental or physical note of this.

3. Keep writing.
Write daily. Emails, blog posts, postcards, annotated shopping lists. Keep a pen and paper handy or use a mobile device, whatever suits you best, just don’t stop.

4. Use a thesaurus.
Someone in the group thought that was cheating but I completely disagree. It’s a fabulous resource to think through alternative words and perhaps even an opportunity to broaden your vocabulary.

5. Edit once your first draft is complete.
If possible take a break between the first draft and running through it to edit it. Even a tea break will help you draw breath and freshen your mind. Resist the temptation to edit after every paragraph. Concentrate on getting the ideas down first, then refine and amend later.

Do you have any top tips to add? I'd love to hear them!

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