Creative Writing

A Beginner’s Guide to Creative Writing

Creative writing is an art, and like every other art, it has to be learnt. It’s a skill that one has to develop the same way athletes develop theirs.

Normally, when people complain about not being able to write, it’s not because they don’t understand the English language or can’t speak good English. It’s simply because they can’t take some time to learn the art.

Really, if you set your mind on writing, you can become a great writer.

One wrong perception people have about writing is that you have to be an expert to write. This isn’t true in the least.

The greatest secret to writing good content is to write consistently. It’s a process which evolves gradually, like a child learning to walk.

You’ll make mistakes, people will criticize your work, but you’ll become strong through persistence.

Creative writing is like wine; the older it gets, the finer it becomes.

But how can you become a creative writer? Do you just wake one morning and start churning out great stuff?

The following tips will set you on the right track. They’ll help you build the right attitude, and get you started with writing.

Develop the willpower

This is the most important thing to get you really started. You’ll need the kind of willpower that mountaineers possess, to be a creative writer.

When you find yourself lacking the energy to write, and you feel like doing something else instead, think about what you stand to gain if you write: fulfilment, commendation, money etc.

You have to force yourself to start writing anyway, but you must employ a steady approach. Write for few minutes, take a break, and then go back to it.

With time, you’d have developed thicker muscles against the inner resistance and reluctance militating against taking action.

Make writing your hobby

Hobbies are activities we take pleasure doing. We do them often because we love doing them. So if you make writing your hobby, it won’t be long before you develop great interest in it. And soon, you’ll find it difficult to not write.

You should spend your leisure time writing, and make sure to carry a writing pad (or use the notepad on your smartphone) with you everywhere you go.

Write on topics which interest you, show them to your friends, and share them on social media.

Be an ardent reader

Reading is necessary to develop great writing skills. Your ability to relate what you’ve read to your writing makes you a better writer. Reading is also required when you need to write about topics where facts are needed.

So what should you do? Read on varying topics from newspapers, magazines, and blogs. A writer once said:

The one who is stung by the bee of writing but is not stung by the bee of reading must have been stung by the wrong bee.

Understand the English Language and the rules of grammar

The more error-free your writings are; the better. Therefore, creative writing requires basic knowledge of the English Language for effective communication and clarity of expressions.

Important aspects of the English language that you should master include parts of speech, sentence structure, phrases and clauses, concord (subject-verb agreement etc), capitalization, punctuation marks, paragraphing, lexis and structure, and vocabulary.

You should revise English Language text books occasionally, take online grammar courses, and read pieces written by language enthusiasts.

How to Structure Your Article

Essentially, articles consist of three basic parts which are: the introduction, body and conclusion. The three parts convey your message in a step-wise order, and makes it easy for readers to comprehend.

Introduction

An introduction is what gives background information about the subject matter. It gives your write-up a direction. Usually, the aim of an introduction is to capture your reader’s attention, and arouse further reading.

It might interest you to know that writing an introduction is the most difficult stage in writing for many people. At times, people spend days thinking about how to start. But once this hurdle is crossed, further writing becomes easy.

However, there’s no generally acceptable way to begin an essay. It all depends on the writer’s personal style. A writer may decide to begin with a short anecdote, a powerful quote, a startling statistic, or a statement of fact.

Body

Here, knowledge of paragraphing is very essential.

A paragraph is a group of sentences that belong together because they form a natural unit of meaning. A good paragraph should possess three essential qualities:

  • Unity: a paragraph is said to possess unity if all its sentences support a single main idea. So, your paragraphs should be able to drive your readers towards a clear destination.
  • Coherence: a paragraph is coherent when all its sentences relate clearly and logically to one another. A good piece of writing should be organized in a logical sequence, and sentences must flow well with the previous ones.
  • Elaboration: a paragraph is elaborate if the main idea is supported by details that develop the ideas of either the stated or implied topic sentence.

Conclusion

The concluding part of an essay is as good as its introductory part. A reader gets an impression of a write-up by merely looking at these two aspects.

Ideally, the conclusion should summarize the main idea of the writer upon which further clarification may not be required.

Developing Your Content

Now that you’ve learnt about the basic structure of an article, let’s look at how to develop your content.

There are about 4 steps involved in developing a meaningful content. Each of them occur at different phases of writing, and are all important in the overall quality produced.

Planning

Writing should begin with planning, the same way thinking should precede talking.

It involves taking notes, making lists or creating a rough outline of the ideas that you want to present. Jot down your ideas and supporting details so that you’ll not miss a point or present the ideas in an unorganized manner.

The brainstorming and conjuring up of ideas which precede putting the first word down are just as important as the mechanics of writing the entire piece.

Drafting

Once you have an outline, you can begin to develop your ideas as fast as possible. You should prepare the first draft in a concise form, using no more words than necessary.

Experts often advise writers to write everything that comes to mind about the topic, not minding grammatical or spelling errors.

Although, the draft is the foundation of your write-up upon which other ideas are built, you should be prepared to throw out part or all the draft if it doesn’t work.

Revising and editing

These two go hand in hand.

Revision is a powerful way to improve your draft. That’s where you get to weed out unimportant details and clarify all vague ideas.

However, revision should not be considered a mere mechanism to fix the first draft; it should be treated as a means to create the final product.

Editing your article adds beauty to your writing, and makes it enjoyable to read. Remember, a poorly edited article is like a cake without icing. It just makes readers sick.

Proofreading

When the final draft is ready after one or more revisions of the first draft, you should then proofread the final manuscript to check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

To do this, you should first read the entire piece slowly and carefully to determine if it communicates the central message, or if the title is appropriate for the write-up. This will help you determine which part needs to be rewritten or modified to produce the intended meaning.

If you do not have the time to proofread, you shouldn’t bother to write in the first place. Because, let’s face it, nobody loves to read a badly written article.

Things to Avoid In Writing

Conclusively, you should avoid technical goofs which could make your write-up mediocre.

Not revising your first draft, using words or sentences that are too long, using too many filler words, overused expressions, archaic language, lack of structure, are common mistakes that you should avoid in your write-up.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote by Thornton Wilder, which you can always live by as a creative writer:

If you write to impress, it will always be bad, but if you write to express, it will be good.

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