A nation of avid readers means a nation of people with high literacy and numeracy skills, as well as feeding the part of the brain that can often be squeezed by the stresses and strains of everyday life. We associate imagination and make believe with children but, for adults, the ability to imagine and dream is just as important.
But, there is another reason why reading is a great past time – writing.
What is creative writing?
The likelihood is, in answer to this question, you will assume it means fiction, novels, short stories and poems – and you wouldn’t be wrong.
But there are new strands being added to the definition of creative writing. The articles and blogs posts and, some would say the social media posts too, that are created on a daily basis also count as creative writing.
We have become so accustomed to creative writing meaning fiction, or non-factual writing, that it can seem a stretch of the imagination to think of articles on the web as creative pieces.
But they are. They take thought and imagination, as well as a sprinkling of creativity to put across what could be seen as a dry topic, in a fun and engaging way.
The process of writing
Firstly, there is no wrong or right way to write. Creative writing courses will not set out a prescribed writing process but it helps to understand the steps within a story. The next time you read a book or even watch a drama on TV, take note of what happens and to whom and, more importantly, when in the story it happens to them…
#1 Start, middle and end
In essence, there are three basic sections to a story, whether this is a screenplay, a novel or a short story. Thinking of this can be helpful in creating a structure to your story but consider this advice from author Billy Wilder;
In the first chapter, put your favourite character up a tree. In chapter two, set the tree on fire and in chapter three, rescue him.
This is, in essence, what needs to happen in your story. Your character needs to be introduced, the problem or issue working against them identified and then they need escape/solve it. Along the way, they could have many jolly japes and scrapes.
#2 Your writing style
There is some debate about linguistic fingerprint emerging in the forensic linguistic word, an idea that we all have a writing style that potentially, under scrutiny, give us away.
In many ways this is true. However, it can lead to some words being over used. There are also some words that are considered less valuable within a creative writing process.
Take the overused adverb ‘very’; if your writing is littered with this word, consider expanding your repertoire – the best way of doing this is by reading.
Also, by reading different genres and styles of creative work, you will come across a greater depth of word usage, sentence types, styles and general expression. ‘very wet’ will become ‘drenched’, or ‘soaked to the skin’…
#3 Be inspired
Everyday life is littered with inspiration – you may not be seeing just yet.
Creative writing courses will help you identify stories lurking in every crevice. For example, the face peering out of the window on the top deck of the bus, what are they running from? The lady sat in the passenger seat of the red car at the lights, why does she look so unhappy? The man who has delivered your pizza, why is he a delivery driver with such an expensive watch on his wrist?
These are just three examples of the inspiration you could come across in a day. The face on the bus may not be running from anything but towards irs, the lady in the passenger seat is not unhappy, just tired and the pizza delivery chap wears his grandfather’s watch, given to him the night he died…
#4 Set aside time
A deadline can be friend or foe. They can propel you forwards or they can panic you.
There are two hidden lessons here: structure your writing time and make time. It may be half an hour on a Tuesday night while the kids are at gym or Thursday morning before your afternoon shift start.
The greatest threat to your writing is procrastination. Or is it? There is another threat, and one that strikes without warning.
Writer’s block is the fear of the blank page, an inability to write no words.
The vast white blank space and the menacing, pulsating cursor combine to make your dread writing…
Creative writing courses can help develop your writing, as well as giving you a few hints of dealing with procrastination and the dreaded writer’s block. There is, after all, a novel in all of us.