I get asked a lot of questions when I tell people I write stories. I get questions about plot, about characters, about ideas, about how to get started…
Only one person has ever attempted to ask me, ‘yeah, but how do you write like that.’
They mean how do you write creatively. How do you write in such a way that you’re telling a story that makes people read on, rather than writing an essay or a reference book or an article.
Honestly? It’s a question I avoid, but the answer feels huge.
Well, not any more.
Today, I’m going to try and answer this question.
There’s a part of me that worries about this question. I’ve always written creatively. Writing creatively comes naturally to me, and even writing essays and articles in a creative storytelling way makes everything more enjoyable and easier.
Which makes me wonder if it’s something you’re just born with.
This isn’t helped by so many bestselling authors telling the public that creative writing can’t be taught, it’s just something you’re born with.
But they’re wrong.
Humans are capable of great things. People learn new languages, skills and facts every single day. So, of course people can learn to write creatively.
The idea is bolstered by the fact that so many copywriters I know of go on and on about how copywriting is something you learn, it’s not a talent you’re born with.
Copywriting is different to creative fiction writing (as is blogging, essay writing and writing articles), but actually the foundation and basics are very similar.
But if your mind doesn’t work in a naturally story-telling fashion, how do you learn to write creatively?
My Top Tips to Writing Creatively
It’s hard to give concrete tips on how to write creatively. Everyone is different and what works for one person won’t work for another. But here are some tips, including some things which I’m certain helped me at an early age, which will hopefully help you, whatever age you are.
If you’re struggling to write creatively but really want to write that story, give these tips a go. If one doesn’t work, don’t worry, just move onto the next one.
- Read. A lot.
There’s a reason authors recommend reading a lot. If you read stories, especially from authors you really admire, you can subconsciously pick up the rhythm of their writing, sentence structure and chosen words.
- Don’t be afraid to copy at first.
This is a great way to start writing fiction. I’m not suggesting you copy out a story word for word, unless you want to, but try writing a story using your favourite author’s voice. Or rewrite a story you love. This isn’t something that’ll get published. Use this as a great exercise to find your own voice and have fun with it.
- Every great writer thinks they’re rubbish.
It’s called Imposter Syndrome. Even Neil Gaiman has talked about suffering from it. I recently read something that only bad writers think they’re amazing. Try writing creatively and if you cringe and think it’s awful, it probably isn’t actually as bad as you think it is.
Yeah, I say this a lot, but like all skills, writing fiction requires practise. The first story you write won’t get published, the first novel you write might never get finished. That’s how it goes. These beginning steps are about experimenting, having fun, finding how you want to write and practising it.
Write for you. Not for a reader or a market.
The best way to write creatively is to just get writing and see what happens. Try different things, experiment and don’t give up.
This was going to be a one off blog post, but I’m curious as to what other authors think about writing creatively.
So, I’m going to ask them! Part Two will be all about their opinions.
Get a heads up when Part Two comes out by joining the mailing list right here. You’ll also get a free 7 day email course to help you get writing that story that’s stuck in your head.
What’s Your Answer?
What do you think?
Can creative writing be taught?
What are your tips for learning how to write creatively?
Comment below or shoot me an email at Jenny (@) writeintothewoods.com and you may get featured in Part Two of this blog post.