Osho, one of the most creative mystics and the founder of the Rajneesh movement once said, “To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
Creativity, especially creative writing, is one of the most beautiful things in life where you get to take readers, through your writing, on a journey of exploration within themselves and the universe to identify and get them to experience the beauty of life.
To get to that level as a beginner, you need to understand what creative writing is all about and how to access your own creativity.
As Rumi said in his book, The Essential Rumi, “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
So join me as I walk you through the essential basics of creative writing and help you learn how to unfold your own myth.
What is Creative Writing
Creative writing is a form of writing that allows you to bring out your creativity in your own unique and fascinating way.
Now you would wonder, what does unique and fascinating mean?
Well, I am sure you know or have heard of Walt Disney, the man who brought Disneyland to life?
That’s one man who gave and still gives through his company, the perfect description of creativity. He took the entertainment industry to a whole new level.
And Disney at the moment is among the best, if not the best, places to watch mind-blowing movies, animations, songs, and other interesting forms of creative entertainment.
Now creative writing is having the same kind of creativity Walt Disney had, but channeling it towards writing.
You bring out characters, paint almost real mental images, and describe places in a very vivid manner that makes the readers feel like they are part of what you have written about that captures their attention and makes them crave for more.
To be a creative writer means to go beyond the normal standards of the average writer and add some life and spark to your writing that no one has done before or better than it has been done in the past.
That is what makes a truly creative writer who is going places.
Creative writing takes many forms and can be presented in different ways. Let’s take a quick dive into the various types of creative writing.
Types of Creative Writing
The thought of poetry itself stirs up an interesting feeling within you.
The good structure of words, the rhyme scheme, the figurative explanation as well as vivid description are just some things to live for.
And with the works of great poets like William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Emily Dickinson, you certainly can’t ignore the creativity that lies in this form of creative writing.
Poetry comes in many different types including:
* Haiku – This is a type of poem that comes from Japan and usually has 3 lines that have a definitive structure.
The first line of these poems has five syllables. The second line has two more syllables from the first, making it 7 syllables.
And the third line has 5, just like the first line. Some of the best Haiku poems include The Old Pond, and Spring is Passing By by Matsuo Bashō, In The Moonlight by Yosa Buson, and Plum Flower Temple by Natsume Soseki.
* Free verse – A free verse poem is just like the name suggests, it is a poem that is free of the metrical pattern, musical form, and rhyme scheme used by other types of poems.
Examples of good free verse poems include I Carry Your Heart With Me by E.E. Cummings, Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
* Sonnet – A sonnet is a type of poem with 14 lines that has a fixed rhyme scheme and uses something known as iambic pentameter (A line in a verse of a poem that uses unstressed syllables at the beginning and then follows that with stressed syllables).
Examples of the best sonnets include Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare and Death Be Not Proud by John Donne.
* Ode – An ode is more of a poem that celebrates a person, event, or nature and acts as a tribute. Examples of the best odes include To Autumn as well as Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats, and Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth.
* Epics – An epic poem is a long type of poem that is more of like a narration that recounts memorable events or deeds that are crucial to the poet’s culture. Some of the best epic poems include The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Homeric Poems, and The Mahabharata.
Songs are a bit similar to poems only that the rhythm used in songs is much more advanced than poems.
The structure of songs is also dependent on the writer and so it can be as long or as short as the writer wants.
Those who love writing poems can also easily fit in this form of writing because a poem sometimes can be a song and vice versa.
And if a poet came together with an artist, the duo could come up with something really beautiful. Don’t you agree?
Speeches are another great form of creative writing.
They can either be inspirational or persuasive, and the good thing is that, in them, anything can be discussed based on the audience you are going to be addressing and your aim.
For instance, someone who is going to give a speech about a certain topic and also wants to promote his service or product in the process has to be creative in his approach.
He has to figure out where, in his speech, he is going to pitch his product or service in a way that doesn’t sound pushy or self-promotional.
He also has to be creative when arranging the order of his key points so that the strongest points come first and flow seamlessly from one point to the other.
Vignettes are short scenes that are descriptive and meant to leave an impression in the reader’s mind.
They help persuade, inform, and entertain and usually paint a picture in your mind about the event being talked about.
They are often used in short stories, fiction and non-fiction books, scripts used in films and essays, among others.
A well-known book that has used vignettes for the most is the novel called “The House on Mango Street“ written by Sandra Cisneros.
One instance in the novel that has used a vignette is where one of the characters shows another character the house they live with their family by pointing to it and the house looks bad and embarrassing for the character that lives there.
Sandra, the author paints that scenario very well. It’s like you are seeing the house in front of you.
The creativity needed for this type of writing is quite high.
Blogging is pretty much getting a platform, a website, or blog to be specific, and getting to air your opinions on a particular subject there.
The creative part of blogging is the part where you need to express your opinions in a way that reflects what you truly feel about the subject you are discussing and making it so descriptive that the readers of your blog understand exactly what you are saying.
If say you are running a food blog and you are what most people refer to as a “foodie”, you should aim to express your love for food and certain recipes, and cakes, or side dishes, so clearly that shows exactly how you feel about them.
Your blog should be like a mirror that reflects your passion for food to your readers with the same intensity or degree that is in your heart.
If you are looking to get into blogging, this ultimate guide to blogging will come in handy for you.
This is a type of formal writing that focuses on writing about a specific topic in prose.
Here, you use evidence to try to persuade the person who will be reading the essay about your opinion on the topic.
Essays can be about anything but mostly they include writing about interesting events like in the case of compositions.
Essays and compositions could be some of the forms of creative writing that might have jump-started your creativity while you were in high school and college if you were not into other forms of creative writing like songs and poetry.
7. Personal Journals
Personal journals are the same as diaries or personal notebooks where you record in writing the happenings of your life.
While most of the writing is about something that has already happened, at times, it may require you to express your thoughts, ideas, or feelings and you would need to be creative here.
A good example is a girl who is slowly falling in love for the first time and is trying to understand what is happening within herself.
So in her diary, she says “Dear diary, today when I was walking to school, I saw the boy that makes me feel some type of way that I can’t entirely explain.
The sight of him just stirs up excitement, anxiety, the pressure to impress, and cheerfulness all at once. I try to contain myself and sound calm but I just can’t seem to get a good grip of myself.”
8. Friendly letters
Remember the good ol’ days when letters were our only means to reach out to a loved one or a friend or even family when we were away from them for a long time?
Weren’t those days nice!
Phones and social media have made it easy to communicate nowadays but these two took away something really interesting that the whole experience of writing letters had.
There was a special kind of joy when you sat down with a feather in your hand, some ink next to it, and a plain paper ready to unleash all your creativity in expressing desire to meet someone, share your experiences the few days or months you’ve been away from them and describe your longing to meet them.
Funny enough, some people have still held on to them even in these modern times.
Steps to Creative Writing
Through the process of creative writing, there are steps that you should follow to make sure you come up with a complete masterpiece. These steps are prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing.
Let’s look at them at length and see what you are supposed to do in each step.
This is the stage where you start forming and organizing your ideas. It is called the prewriting step because it is the kind of writing that comes before you get to write the final draft.
How is that, you ask?
Here, you take your time to think about what you would want to appear in your creative content and take down a few ideas and angles you want to cover.
You also go through each part of the content from the introduction to the conclusion and see what aspects you will write in those areas and how they are going to develop to present the main idea or topic you are discussing.
Here, you begin putting together the ideas you came up with previously, in writing, and then build on them through paragraphs and sentences.
In this step, you might also gain additional ideas while you are working on the ones you wrote in the first step, and so you can add them as you build the bulk of your content.
Also, you don’t want to pay too much attention to spellings in this step, just write freely seeking to build strong points first.
This is the stage where you go through the content you have written and see whether it has achieved its objectives and satisfies the needs, desires, and expectations of your readers.
And it is where you look at how you have organized your work if the content you have written in a paragraph or section connects to the other one understandably.
You also check whether the length of your sentences is correct based on the type of creative content you are working on.
Moreover, you check whether your ideas have been well handled and you have not left out anything that is important. And you make an effort to ensure that you marry your ideas in the best way possible such that they are clear and accurate.
In this final step, you now check your work for spelling errors, grammatical errors, and any other errors that you might have made as you were creating your draft.
You correct all of them and make sure that everything is as it should be.
Some people prefer to use editing tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway editor to catch wind of any errors that they might have failed to see while editing with their naked eyes.
Grammarly is simple to use and offers great value in terms of editing and anyone can use it.
However, the Hemingway Editor is for those who are feeling a bit nerdy and want a more sophisticated editor.
While revising is often done once, you may need to do editing a couple of times (about three times), especially if you are not using an editor so that you are sure there are no mistakes that could reduce the value of your work.
Benefits of Creative Writing
Here are some of the benefits that come with creative writing:
Spikes your imagination
Creativity is like a muscle, the more you make use of it, the stronger it grows.
I think this is one of the instances of life where the concept of, “Those who have, more will be added to them” applies.
See, when you tap into your imagination and go wild on it for the first time, you are amazed at how much potential you have as a writer and as you keep creating more content, you eventually get into a flow state of creativity and constructive imagination that helps you see beyond the ordinary.
I think everyone in the world has had one of those days when they were performing at their best.
Like, if you were writing a creative piece, you noticed that on that particular day, ideas were flooding your mind and you had a perfect flow when addressing them in your content.
Now if you get into the habit of doing a lot of creative writing, you can activate this state that allows you to have an easy time being creative.
This happens when you write regularly as you constantly push yourself towards doing better on your current work compared to your previous one.
You come up with other innovative ways to tackle situations and master them in the process, which goes on to make you an expert at your craft.
Helps you express yourself better
If you write creatively frequently, you become better at self-expression because you have created a habit of regularly expressing yourself through words.
The result of this can be felt even in real life in that you can distinguish when you are stressed or happy and express that completely and thus find a solution to it.
Helps improve your mental health
This can be attributed to several things. For example, when you write a personal journal and express how you felt after a certain event happened, you can release the mental and emotional tension within you.
Also, if you are a poet and maybe you have been heartbroken by someone who thought was meant to be your soulmate, you can channel your frustration through creating a masterpiece that everyone who has been in the same situation can relate to.
You can also choose to write a song about it, as Adele did with her song, “Rolling in the Deep” after she was heartbroken.
Allows you to entertain people
You can create interesting stories, poems, and other creative writing forms and share them with your audience to help entertain them.
People in the world need something to make them smile, laugh, and give them a place to escape when they are overwhelmed by life.
And reading creative content is one of the many ways to do that.
So when you can, create more work that will help ease the burdens of the people on planet earth and they will be happy you existed.
How to Get Started With Creative Writing
These are steps that you can use to step foot into the creative writing arena and become good at it.
Step one. Determine your best creative content type – People are gifted differently and we all have what we love more than others. The same case applies here. You should aim to choose the type of creative content you feel has always been your path, whether it is poems, songs, essays or vignettes, or others. Take your time and consider all the forms out there and think deeply about each. Figure out why you want one over the other. Ask people who know you well and then make a decision.
Step two. Write your first piece immediately – There is this problem that many people face of thinking about something too much and not getting started. You may research a lot on it, debate the pros and cons of it and learn as much as you can about it but end up not doing it. My first rule of anything new I get into is, first do it, determine where you are in terms of skills and knowledge, and then learn your way up.
Step three. Research and improve upon your skills – After you have written your first work and have seen how good or poor you are in that area, you should now aim to improve from where you are. This means researching, reading the works of other established creative writers in your space, and knowing what made them great.
Step four. Do a lot of practice – This is what makes the bridge from a regular writer to a top-notch one. Now that you have established what the best writers in your area of interest do, it is now time to apply that in your work and keep improving with every piece.
Set aside a specific time of the day that you will dedicate to writing creatively and make an effort of doing it every so often. You can decide to be writing 3 to 4 days per week or every day.
Tips to Help You Through Creative Writing
To help you steer your writing in the right direction, here are some effectively awesome tips to remember:
* Read as many books as you can
Reading adds to your knowledge base and if you read more on the kind of creative writing you are interested in venturing into, you are going to gain more insight into that area which will help you improve your writing skills.
Also, it helps you see how other experts in that same area express themselves, bring out their ideas, and what sets them apart from the other average writers, and this, in the long run, helps you not only get better but also find your sweet spot that will also make you stand out.
On top of that, they help you learn new vocabulary, how to play around with language as well as sentence structure, and different writing styles.
It is also advisable to read from other creative forms sometimes.
Say you are into poetry. Don’t limit yourself to reading poetry alone. Get into other areas like songwriting, diaries, novels, and even essays.
Diversity is the spice of life and reading other creative writings might give you an idea that can really boost your work when you apply it to your area of expertise.
* Always research your writing ideas
To help you build upon your ideas, it is always a good idea to do a bit of in-depth research on what you are writing.
Whether it is on how to express yourself better than you have been doing or to gather more content for your ideas or perfecting your approach to writing, make sure you do some research first before you start writing.
This is going to add more professionalism to your work and bring you out as a credible person.
For example, if you are writing an essay and you have already brainstormed some ideas to support your opinion on a particular subject, don’t rely on that only.
Jump into Google, and research more on those ideas.
Get more angles that you can approach the ideas from so that you are completely convincing with your work.
It is in your research that you find more useful content that further defines your ideas and even some awesome writing tricks and tips that will add more value to your works and have a lasting impression on your readers.
* Don’t be afraid to reach out to experts in your area of interest
We often fear people we look up to. Not in a bad way.
We respect them and the authority they have built in a given area that we feel and think that they wouldn’t even have time to listen to us or want to interact with us.
But that is quite the contrary.
Some highly skilled writers are happy to connect with upcoming writers and give them a hand where they can.
I personally had that fear of reaching out to someone who was an expert on a topic I wanted to write about a few months back.
The idea of reaching out to her had come into my mind but I brushed it off saying to myself that she was so big in the industry that she wouldn’t even have time for me.
But something inside pushed me to do it.
To my surprise, she responded in a few hours, offered me unimaginable insight into what I was working on, and even volunteered to share my work after I was done.
This changed how I looked at people from that day.
Try it too and see how it goes.
I know not all experts will get back to you, but I am confident that there is someone with a good heart in that area who remembers how hard it was for them during their early days and will relate to what you are going through and will help you.
* Be creative with your content
Make use of different writing styles such as vivid description, alliteration (repeating a letter in words consecutively like a tongue twister), hyperbole (amplification of certain experiences to enhance your work), and so much more just to spice up your work.
You can also use suspense, and other styles you feel will make a good fit for your work.
However, be careful not to overdo it so that you don’t lose your readers or make it unable for them to make sense of your creative piece.
The whole idea here is to make your work as interesting as you can without coming out too strong.
* Believe in yourself
As you do all the necessary activities to better your creative writing skills on the outside, you also have to work on your inner self.
And the main aspect you should work on is confidence and belief in yourself.
You should believe that you are capable of making a great piece all by yourself. You should know that you have all it takes and you can actually deliver more in terms of value than you are currently doing now.
All you need to do is to learn as much as you can about your creative writing type, be aware of your level of creativity, and enhance it by research and reading a lot, and practicing.
Research shows that some of the factors that should be considered when doing creative writing are the perception you have about yourself, your awareness level of creativity, and your expectations.
So with inner confidence, doing immense practice, and doing your best to understand and boost your creativity, you should be amazed by the kind of awesome work you put out.
* Don’t give up
As with everything in life, it takes time to become better in your craft and see good results.
You are going to have some good days and many bad days that will make you want to throw in the towel.
You might publish your work and get a lot of criticism or even fail to get your work published at all because some editors of a magazine or newspaper feel like you are not talented.
Let not these things bring you down. Go take a rest that evening and then the following morning wake up and keep going.
Remember, the biggest challenges make the strongest leaders.
If you make mistakes, don’t worry. Rome was not built in a day.
Every industry has its own challenges and those who make it to the top are the ones who see beyond them and work hard to overcome them.
And on the same breath, let’s have a look at some common mistakes creative writers make and what it means to them.
Common Mistakes in Creative Writing
A not-so-interesting introduction and headline
An introduction or headline that is not captivating makes your work lose taste right from the word go and there is a high chance a huge number of readers won’t go past that.
See, introductions and headlines give the first impression of your work and they should give the readers the desire to know more about your work.
Ensure that you catch your reader’s attention right off the bat so that you don’t lose them even before they have started reading your work.
Many readers judge your work with the headline and the first few paragraphs, so you want to put in a lot of effort to capture their attention and keep them engaged throughout.
To come up with better headlines, you should check out a resourceful guide on creating great headlines.
Choosing a genre you are not sure about or simply not conversant with
When you go for a genre that you don’t love, don’t know anything about, and are not interested in, just because many people seem to like it, you are less likely to deliver good work.
You might think poetry is a good fit for you as you begin creative writing but as you progress along the way realize you are having a hard time and you could do better with essay writing.
In such a case, the best thing would be to let go of poetry and go with essay writing to relieve yourself of unnecessary stress.
Too much repetition
There is a tendency to go in circles on an idea you have already explained to your readers when you don’t have enough content for your piece or when you are not well versed with what you are handling.
This shows your readers that you are not professional or creative with your work and it could make you lose points in their eyes.
That is why research is stressed for every writer.
Failure to proofread work of any mistakes
A written piece that has not been revised or edited and is taken to the readers is a piece that is designed to fail terribly.
Now I know most writers might say that they were close to the deadline and had to do things in haste and overlook mistakes so that they can deliver on time.
This is a common excuse. (Notice I didn’t call it a reason, I said excuse).
See, any content that is full of mistakes is not worth reading at all.
Sometimes, it is better to not deliver at all than to deliver poor quality work.
If you are writing a piece that has got a deadline, plan your time well, and ensure that you spare time for correcting the mistakes you may have made when writing.
This is a crucial aspect and it is what adds to the overall value of your content.
Adding filler information
Filler information or content is the extra words that are added to a piece of work with aim of hitting the set word count.
This is mostly done by freelance writers to lengthen their work and give the impression that their work is long and super valuable.
But what most writers who use this black hat method of writing fail to realize is that you can’t cheat everyone all the time.
Actually, it is quite easy to spot work that has filler content.
When you see someone trying to over-explain something simple or use ambiguous words to sound informed or use long phrases to explain something that can be handled in one or two words, that is a person who is using filler content.
And this shows a lot of unprofessionalism on your part.
Doing more research and getting other angles you can use to address your work can help add more value instead of trying to cheat the one you are working for or the readers.
Using complex vocabulary
When you use very complex words that make the reader go to the dictionary every other sentence they read from your content, you can be sure they won’t hang around for long.
They probably won’t finish reading your work.
Always aim to use simple language and define the difficult words that you feel are necessary to use.
Doing this will help the readers flow with your work and get to achieve their goal faster and easier.
Therefore, aim to understand the level of language grasp of your audience so that you use vocabulary that they can easily understand or make sense of.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Creative Writing
Question: What counts as creative writing?
Answer: Any form of writing that allows you to incorporate your creativity as well as make use of literary features.
Question: Where can I learn about creative writing?
Answer: Well, you can go to school, do your research online, make use of the library, or simply look for a highly-skilled writer and get to learn directly from them. You really are not limited at all. As long as you are determined, you can learn from any credible sources and become an expert.
Question: What are some of the challenges that I am likely to experience?
Answer: There is a variety of them but the most common ones include lack of concrete ideas, feeling discouraged probably because other writers are putting out better work than you, having a hard time attracting a huge audience, struggling to market your work and so much more.
They are many and they vary with the individual doing the writing but they should not stop you from improving and getting better. When you face any challenge, try to research it because many other writers have had the same problem in the past and they found a solution.
Also, reflect on it and figure out the best solution. You can also choose to ask more established authors in the area you are in.
Question: Where can I get cool ideas for writing?
Answer: Well, there is no specific place you can get good ideas from. It could be from anywhere.
Sometimes, ideas come when you are asleep and they wake you up late at night, at times from personal experiences, other times when you are completely focused on your writing when you are taking a walk in the woods alone, when you are speaking to other people, and the list is endless.
So, always be open to new ideas at any time of the day and anywhere you may be.
That is pretty much the gist of creative writing.
It is not as complicated as many people think it is.
Now that you are well-equipped with the essential basics of it, it is your time to put the information into action by deciding your path and jumping into it right away.
Let us know the type of creative writing you are thinking of working on within the comments.
If you have already gotten started, please share your experience with us so that we can all learn.