A creative writer is someone who tells unique stories in a distinctive voice. For a beginner in the world of creative writing, it may be hard to convince yourself that your work is legitimately creative compared to the competition. You could be a first-time writer about to complete one of the best creative writing courses, a hobbyist working on your first novel, or a seasoned pro who’s simply trying to fight writer's block and become a better writer.

No matter your background or what types of writing you take on, you can benefit from making space to take stock of your writing skills and ask if there are new ways you can innovate.

Many writers use creative writing as a way of expressing their feelings and thoughts. Creative writing can be considered a form of art that uses words, instead of pictures, to connect with its audience. The many genres of creative writing include:

  • Poetry
  • Song lyrics
  • Short Stories
  • Novels
  • Movie scripts
  • Scripts for plays

Not all creative writing is fictional. Some forms of creative writing, like memoirs, are non-fictional and based on true stories. However, fiction or non-fiction, all types of creative writing can be written using imaginative language or a dialogue between characters.

creative writing
Inspiration for a story or a poem or a song can come from anywhere, and at any time. | Image source: Markus Winkler on Unsplash
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Skills That Make You a Creative Writer

Before we tell you about the easy tricks and tips to hone and nurture your creative writing skills, let us try to understand creative writing a bit more. Creative writing generally refers to fictional writing or storytelling. For example, a newspaper article is not an example of creative writing, as it must include facts about the person/situation it is reporting on.

With creative writing, writers are free to use their imagination. The purpose of creative writing is to produce something which is entertaining, engaging, and, sometimes, even personal. The most identifiable skills of a creative writer, that can help you get enrolled in the best creative writing programs, include:

  • Imagination: You need a great deal of this to excel as a creative writer. Readers are always looking for novelty in the stories they read – something that makes them go wow!
  • Persistence: Writing takes time and effort – be it a poem or a novel. The most successful creative writers spend hours, days, and even weeks and months perfecting their ideas and working out a presentable plot. This is followed by the editing and publishing processes. The process of becoming a great writer doesn't happen overnight.
  • Resilience: The life of a creative writer can be hard with a lot of criticism from all sorts of people. Some might think your story is not realistic, others might say your plot is a little dull. But you need to be able to handle criticism and build from it. Criticism is not a bad thing if it helps you become a better writer.
  • Writing ability: The words that you write must make grammatical and logical sense. You can't be a professional creative writer if you’re unsure where to place your commas or don’t know how to format the dialogue properly. Thus, it is important to understand the basics of writing before taking up creative writing.

Best Creative Writing Tips and Techniques

Bloggers or novelists, non-fiction authors, or a poet – no matter which type of creative writing you have chosen to pursue, there is always room for creative improvement to enhance the writing process. No 2 creative writers think alike. So, before you immerse yourself in one of the many creative writing courses online, keep these writing tips handy. They might inspire creative brilliance at a moment when you are least expecting it!

Learn from the Best in the Business

Our love for writing probably (subconsciously) stems from our love for the books we read. There is no limitation on the number and type of books that one can read in a lifetime. That said, however, it is important to read renowned authors to understand what great writing is and what great writers can do.

Depending on your writing style and the genre of creative writing you are interested in, seek out the bestselling works in the category. But it is important not to confuse the voices of these authors with your own. Your favorite books as starting points for your creative writing journey. After all, what makes a person truly creative is the ability to hone one's own unique ideas, styles, and points of view.

For example, for someone interested in writing young adult literature, consult some groundbreaking works like the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Goosebumps universe of R.L. Stine, or the coming of age novels by Judy Blume.

For writers looking to write science fiction, study the work of Isaac Asimov or Neil Gaiman. If you wish to write fantasy novels, don't miss the genre-bending works by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Furthermore, if horror stories fascinate you, study H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.

snowflake writing technique
The snowflake method has become very popular in modern writing. | Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Create Believable Characters

It is not surprising to hear authors and writers say that they mined the traits of a best friend, family member, or co-worker as part of a great book or movie idea. Why not [put this into your own practice the next time you’re around people you know well? Simply jot down a few observations about their behavior and see if it inspires a story idea.

The Snowflake Method

Created by author and writing instructor, Randy Ingermanson, the snowflake method is a technique for crafting a novel from scratch by starting with a basic story summary, then layering in additional elements. It can be applied to all sorts of creative writing. To use this technique, the writer must think of a big-picture story idea and describe it with a 1-sentence summary.

Then, the writer is required, as per the snowflake method, to build that sentence into a paragraph. Next, the paragraph is used to create various character descriptions. These descriptions are then used to create a series of storylines that involve those characters. Each of those storylines, you guessed it right, traces back to the basic idea at the center of the “snowflake.”

Write in a Creative Environment

As depicted in several movies on writers and bestselling authors, the real-life existence of a writer usually follows a cycle of boom and bust. It is important for professional creative writers, once they hit upon a “boom” period, to not let up and allow their ideas to flow.

Writing workshops or writer’s retreats are perfect grounds to engender such a creative boom. These workshops and retreats facilitate writing exercises designed to boost creativity. They also provide a space for peer sharing and review. Consider participating in an intensive writing program. These days, there are many online creative writing courses that offer valuable writing techniques and advice on everything from character development to nonfiction narratives to poetry writing.

The Freewriting Technique

The freewriting technique is the practice of writing without a prescribed structure. In other words, writing follows no outlines, cards, notes, or editorial oversight. Freewriting allows writers to follow the impulses of their own minds. Without the customary premeditation, thoughts and inspiration are expected to appear to writers more freely. The first time you attempt freewriting, you may end up with mostly unusable material. But with extensive freewriting practice, you can refine your technique and unleash your creativity.

The Three-Act Structure

Not just modern writing, the three-act structure is also prevalent in television and film. Contrary to what the name might suggest, the three acts - setup, confrontation, and resolution - are not distinct from one another. Instead, they flow seamlessly through the piece.

The setup establishes characters, how they relate, and their world. Then, an inciting incident is introduced, along with an attempted resolution and a turning point. The confrontation represents the central problem which the main character attempts to resolve with much adversity. The resolution consists of the climax and the resolution of the problem.

typing errors in writing
In creative writing, self-editing is much more important than the final round of professional editing. | Image source: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

On a Parting Note

The most basic tip you can give yourself as a creative writer is to keep a notebook with you at all times. This will allow you to note down any ideas when they come to mind. Creative minds know for a fact that inspiration can strike at any minute. If you have a topic in mind, think about it while doing your mundane chores. You’d be surprised at what the human mind can conjure up in the middle of washing dishes!

You can also use your notebook or journal to jot down conversations you hear while outside. You can easily add to them later, aiding you to create more naturalistic dialogue. While developing the dialogues, incorporate plot twists or added conflict to make the storyline more compelling. Push the limits of your imagination!

Now that you have your dream plot, with realistic characters within an ideal setting, you are rearing to make sure that the reader gets every little detail that you have in mind. But, there is a small hurdle before you can communicate with your readers. Your story is loaded with many intimate details which the reader finds overwhelming to read.

While intricate and intimate details add layers to a character and the plot, try not to overdo it! Keep your writing simple. By that, we mean - don’t ramble on with lengthy descriptions about things that don't add anything extra to your story.

Finally, take time to edit your writing. Yes, there are professional editors being paid for just that. But, editors receive submissions from hundreds of writers like you. How would they be able to spot the difference if your writing is riddled with typos and punctuation errors? While writing, follow the required guidelines. It is ill-advised to be entirely dependent on your computer's spellcheck program.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.