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Getting started with creative writing

I thought twice about using ‘creative writing’ in the title for this post. To me, creative writing was a class at school where the teacher dragged a few words out of us into lined jotters around whatever that day’s ‘theme’ was. It was like pulling teeth. A poem inspired by the clouds outside. A story based on a walk down the high street. Some dialogue written for characters from your ‘favourite book’ (was it just me who struggled to figure out what my one ‘favourite book’ was by the way?).

Now that I’m older and write so much for practical or business reasons, there’s a certain joy to be found in turning that skill back to writing creatively. I love sitting down with a blank page in front of me, just a spark of an idea and the time to write. I get to follow that spark wherever it decides to take me, without any idea at the start where that might be.

I find the best way is just to WRITE. Don’t worry about what you’re writing, the aim is to get something, ANYTHING down on paper. More often than not more will follow. You never quite know what you’re going to end up with but that’s the fun!

It can be hard to get started though, especially if you don’t have that initial wisp of an idea. There are all sorts of ways you can get ‘writing prompts’ to get you started – including a quick google search for websites which will provide them for you – but I prefer to come up with my own.

Try some of the ideas below to put together your own list so that you have them on hand whenever you fancy picking up a pen…

  • Pick a character who already exists – someone you know, someone from a book or a TV show. Write a scene for them in an everyday situation you’ve experienced recently. What did they do differently to you? How would they talk about it? You may once you get going that the character develops into someone different from your starting point – that’s OK, it’s all part of the fun!
  • Stick on some music and write down lyrics that can act as prompts. I did this the other day with just a couple of songs and ended up with almost a page of ideas.
  • Do the same but with a TV show. The news actually works well! Just keep it to quick snippets of phrases someone says.
  • Start with a character and go from there. Pick someone you see in the street and describe what they might be like, what they might be thinking or feeling, where they’re going, who they know. Or search online for pictures of people and pick one as a starting point.
  • Start with a name. Have a play on a baby name website and pick out a first name, then do the same on a surnames website. Once you have a name you like the sound of, flesh it out with a character. Pair it with a picture too if you like – either draw your own or find one online that you think ‘fits’.

Did I miss anything? Let me know here or below.

Happy writing!


Originally published on my previous website on 4/7/2017

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