I've been surprised by the number of people I've talked to who have always wanted to do creative writing in some form. Many have a goal of writing their own novel someday; others write bits of poetry, blogs, or have started capturing their life story in words through journalling or autobiographical writing.
Because publishing books is easier than ever these days, I think this adds impetus to that exciting idea of putting yourself on the page.
So, for those who are wanting to do more writing, or those who have always wanted to but never known where to begin, what's the starting point?
Here are some basic ideas to get you going:
Some people find this practice to be perfect for loosening up those writing fingers. The idea of freewriting is that you write whatever comes to mind, no matter how mundane or boring or cliche it might seem, even if it just echoes your thoughts at the time. For example you could start out by writing the classic sentiment: "I'm feeling like I have no ideas right now but I'll keep writing anyway"...Your thoughts might ramble onto family, things you need to pick up at the grocery store, the bills that need to be paid, and many other random things; just keep going until you, perhaps, stumble on an idea that you would like to explore further. It might be an image of something you've seen, a thought about a person who could be a possible book character, or countless other things. After you've written a decent amount, stop freewriting and focus on that one idea that gets you going. Write further: what does it turn into? A descriptive piece, something that sounds like a novel opening, something poetic? Edit it and see if you can polish it even further.
Writing descriptions can be a way of escaping the inner pressure we put on ourselves to have some sort of plot or storyline to our writing. What if there didn't need to be a storyline? What if you just chose something (a person, a pet, a sight out the window). Just describe the details of shape, line, colour, texture, and so forth, as much as you can. See where it goes. After writing your description, try editing it with the deeper goal of creating some sort of underlying mood that will pull the reader in - for example a lively mood, eerie mood, or a calm mood, based on the concrete details and connotations of certain words that you choose. Descriptions can easily evolve into other things later - novel or short story openings, poems, parts of chapters.
3. Don't worry about getting a perfect opening
From the time we were tiny tots, we've been taught that stories, poems, and descriptions need to have grand openings. Just about every five year old will resort to the cliche 'One day' or 'once upon a time' as openings for their stories if they can't think of another way to start. This idea of an 'opening' sets up unnecessary pressure when writing because we think the very first sentence we write needs to 'sound right', hook in the reader, etc. But when we're just starting out at draft stage, it's a good practice to begin writing and not worry about whether the first sentence 'sounds like a good opening' at all. Quite often if you take this approach, after you've finished writing your poem, segment, blog, etc, you'll have a clearer idea of what would make a good opening and can come back later to edit it.
4. Have fun!
Creative writing should be fun, so if the end result isn't what you want, just be pleased that you've actually done something and, even though it may not feel like it, you will be learning things as you go about what works and what doesn't, refining your writer's instinct somewhere in the deep regions of your writer's mind.
It can also be a good idea to get feedback on your writing after you've written a few starter pieces, even if it's scary. A close friend or family member will be supportive of you but ask them to also be honest and they'll tell you where you might be able to improve, where things might need to be clarified for the reader. Be sure to tell them what genre the writing is, or what you were aiming for in writing it (for example, if it's just a description, tell them this, so that they won't critique you on not having a plot-line, which may not have been your goal anyway). I am also available to give feedback and currently have a special offer of giving 100-150 words feedback on a 1,000-wd or less submission for just $20 NZD. See the link and scroll down for details. Editing services also available for those who want more detailed commentary and changes to their writing:https://paperlamp.weebly.com/adults.html
If you're way ahead and ready to publish, I also have a self-publishing guide that will help:
Kindle Version www.amazon.com.au/dp/B076RCDB89
Paperback Version http:www.lulu.com/shop/alicia-dawn/self-publishing-a-guide-for-australians-and-new-zealanders/paperback/product-23421840.html
Enjoy your writing journey!
Alicia Leitch has been a tutor for over ten years, mainly in the subject of English. She has worked extensively with both home educated and school educated students. Alicia is also interested in Art and has her own creative pursuits in writing and painting. She loves encouraging people to reach their creative and expressive potential.