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How do you get better at creative writing

Creative Writing for Beginners: 10 Top Tips

These creative writing for beginners tips can help with a short story, poem or novel.

Writing is a great pursuit, but many first-time writers find that it’s not as easy as they think. If you are dabbling in creative writing activities or fiction writing for the first time, you will likely discover that writing courses and writing exercises fall short in helping you truly develop characters and overcome writer’s block.

Thankfully, you can take some steps to embrace your inner author and write your first short story or novel. Whether you have an end product in mind or are simply looking to start your writing journey, these writing tips will help you get started.

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1. Dig Deep to Choose Your Topic

First, determine what you will write about. Your starting point will guide character development and your overall plot. If you’re having trouble finding a topic, consider using these starting points:

  • Start with a story — If you have a compelling storyline or main character in mind, start there.
  • Use personal experiences — Something that happened in your life can help you start a story. Taking our own stories and transforming them into fiction writing can create true masterpieces because the feeling in the writing is personal.
  • Consider a hot topic — Is there a political or social issue that is important to you? Weave that into compelling prose to start your story.

Starting with these ideas, you should be able to settle on a basic idea for your story.

2. Spend Time Reading

Creative writers are usually readers. Reading helps you learn about the nuances of written language, storytelling and character development.

Read a wide range of genres too. While novels are always helpful, non-fiction writing and short stories will teach you as well.

3. Write Daily

Set aside time every day to write. Make it part of your daily routine, and protect that time as much as you can. By having it scheduled into your day, you can overcome the frustration and delays of writer’s block.

During your writing time, limit distractions. Let your housemates or family members know you aren’t available during that time. Write, even if you don’t think what you’re writing is high quality, just to keep the words flowing.

By having daily writing time, you will start to improve your writing skills. Soon you will see a quality piece of writing coming together as you work your way towards your next bestseller.

4. Tackle Writing Exercises

If you find that getting started with creative writing is hard for you, consider some basic writing exercises. Creative writing prompts to get your ideas flowing can be the start of compelling writing as you create your own writing style. Writing exercises can help you learn the importance of the first sentence of your story or the development of your characters.

Sometimes writing exercises do not lead to a final product that you would publish, and that’s fine. The goal isn’t always to create something to share. Sometimes the goal is simply to gain writing experience and hone your craft.

5. Consider a Writing Course

Writing courses can be a great jumping-off point for creative writers. Writing courses teach structure, character development and overall writing techniques.

In a writing course, you will have writing exercises to perform each week and accountability for those assignments. This combination can help many first time writers start writing. Over time the writing skills build up and the writing becomes more natural.

6. Keep It Unique

When it comes to creative writing, uniqueness is a key component. To capture readers, you need something that hasn’t been done before, or you need to approach a story from a new perspective.

To give you a source for creative ideas, take time to brainstorm. Keep a journal where you can jot down ideas as they come or explore storylines. Soon you will find a unique twist to take your characters on.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

Writing is a creative process, but that does not mean that practice is futile. Practicing daily gets your creativity flowing. You will polish your writing skills and learn more about how brainstorming works for you.

8. Try a Different Medium

Today’s writers rarely put pen to paper, but rather finger to keyboard. Sometimes, a different medium may make the creativity flow.

Ernest Hemingway knew this. He wrote all of his manuscripts on paper with pencil, only typing them for the final drafts. This gave him the chance to edit during the final typing, and he felt that writing longhand spurred his creativity.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block, channel your inner Ernest Hemingway and try writing with pencil and paper instead. It just might get you over that hump.

9. Embrace Your Critics

A good writer can make an interesting story out of nothing. A great writer can do the same thing, then learn from critics to make the writing even better. Whether in a writing class, on social media or in the proofreading stages, have people read and critique your writing.

Accept criticism and use it to grow. Sometimes, you will gain new insight into how you can make your writing better. Sometimes, you will ignore the critics and allow your writing to stand.

Either way, critics will help you polish your art and learn how to craft a story that you are proud to call your own.

10. Write First, Perfect Later

When writing a book or short story, don’t focus on perfection at the start. Get your ideas down and polish your storylines and character development, not necessarily the writing and grammar. This comes later when you proofread your work.

Your first draft is the place to get the story going. After you complete that draft, go back and edit it. Make it more powerful, fix your shortcomings and try to perfect it, but only after the main ideas are complete.

Remember, striving for perfection with the first draft is sure to create writer’s block. Move past it by understanding you can perfect later.

The Final Word on Creative Writing for Beginners

Creative writing for beginners can feel daunting. You know you have good ideas, but getting those ideas on paper feels like an overwhelming task. By scheduling time to write every day, brainstorming your ideas and not striving for perfection at first, all while taking advantage of writing exercises and writing classes, you can succeed in becoming a creative writer.

Want more? Check out out list of writing tips.

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Author

Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today’s online marketing world.

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Top tips for creative writing

Crafting an original work of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction takes time, practice, and persistence. While there’s no exact science to creative writing, the following tips will help you get started:

1 Write about what you know

Beginning writers always get told ‘write what you know’, but it’s good advice. Use settings, characters, background, and language that you’re already familiar with and create new stories from the world that you already know. This is like using research you’ve already done. And remember, your background, what you bring to the act of writing, is as valid as what anyone else can bring.

2 Write about what you don’t know

Use your imagination to create new situations, new characters, new relationships, even new worlds. Choose to write about a different period in history, or a place that you’re not familiar with. Where your imagination needs help, fill in the gaps with research. The best thing about being a creative writer is creating.

3 Read widely and well

Writers love reading. Make yourself familiar with the published landscape of writing in your chosen field, whether it’s modern poetry, literary fiction, thrillers, short stories, or fantasy. Nothing encourages good writing like reading good writing.

4 Hook your readers

Nobody is forced to read your novel or short story, so it’s important to hook readers right away. Your opening sentence or paragraph should encourage them to continue, perhaps by making them laugh, or exciting their curiosity, or just making them want to find out what happens next.

Consider the intriguing sting in the tale of the opening sentence of George Orwell’s 1984:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

It seems like a very traditional opening and then – thirteen? You want to know more and so you read on.

Now look at the first sentence of Raymond Carver’s short story Viewfinder:

A man without hands came to the door to sell me a photograph of my house.

Just a short sentence but with so much that we need to have explained. We’re hooked.

5 Get your characters talking

We find out about the people we meet through what they say to us, how they say it, their choice of words, their accents, their verbal habits. Readers should be able to do the same with fictional characters. People on the page really start to live when they start exchanging dialogue.

Writing dialogue needs a lot of work – making it fresh and authentic, editing repeatedly to get it right – but it’s worth the effort.

6 Show rather than tell

Too much description, too many adjectives and adverbs, can slow up your narrative and cause your readers to lose interest. Where possible, it’s better to show you readers what a person, the atmosphere in the room, the relationship between your characters is like – show, that is, by what they say, how they interact, what they do. It’s more effective than telling the reader through wordy piles of information.

This is a tricky one. You have to do some telling so it’s important not to become obsessive about avoiding it.

7 Get it right first time

Try to get your first draft as near perfect as possible. Few writers manage this kind of quality the first time but no one ever wrote great literature by aiming low. On the contrary, aim for the best and do your best from the very start.

8 Keep polishing

If you don’t get it right first time, you can do what most writers do – polish and perfect through the editing process. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that editing is the same as proofreading; it’s about much more than correcting errors. Rather, editing involves carefully going through your work to see what to leave out, what to change, finding out what you have to do to improve your writing, make it sharper, tidier, better.

Editing can be hard work. It’s said that Ernest Hemingway took the last page of A Farewell to Arms through nearly 40 drafts, so don’t give up if you feel you’re getting nowhere.

9 Make the most of your opportunities

Many aspiring writers claim they simply don’t have the time to make the most of their ideas. Yet, if you analyse a typical day, there are always those intervals – using public transport, waiting for a friend, time spent in the waiting room of the doctor or dentist – when it’s possible to pull out a writing pad, a laptop, a tablet and just write. Identify your opportunities – five minutes is enough to get a few sentences down – and use them.

Creative Writing: How to Get Started with Creative Writing [+ 9 Exercises]

Now, we’re not saying your creative writing is bad necessarily, but just that if you want to continue to push yourself in this industry, you’ll need some work since literature is more competitive now than it ever has been.

You might not like to face that truth, but it is indeed a truth everyone who wants to write and publish successfully has to face.

I’ll go into more detail about that in a little bit but every writer out there needs some writing tips to help them get better.

And one of the best ways to get better at creative writing is to first learn and understand the craft of it, and then challenge yourself by completing writing exercises.

Because when your time comes to publish, you want a high-quality final product in order to actually sell your book and acquire raving fans.

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200+ Fiction Writing Prompts In the Most Profitable Genres

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Here’s what you’ll learn about creative writing:

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing where creativity is at the forefront of its purpose through using imagination, creativity, and innovation in order to tell a story through strong written visuals with an emotional impact, like in poetry writing, short story writing, novel writing, and more.

It’s often seen as the opposite of journalistic or academic writing.

When it comes to writing, there are many different types. As you already know, all writing does not read in the same way.

Creative writing uses senses and emotions in order to create a strong visual in the reader’s mind whereas other forms of writing typically only leave the reader with facts and information instead of emotional intrigue.

It can be a book series or a single installation, the factors that make up creative writing have more to do with how it sits with the reader artistically.

What are the Elements of Creative Writing?

In order to get better at creative writing, you have to understand the elements of what makes writing a book great.

You can’t build a car engine without understanding how each part plays a role, right…?

That’s the same case with writing.

And just a note, this is all stuff we cover, and you get to talk about 1-on-1 with your coach when you join Self-Publishing School.

Here are the elements that make up creative writing and why each is just as important as the other.

Unique Plot

What differentiates creative writing and other forms of writing the most is the fact that the former always has a plot of some sort – and a unique one.

Yes, remakes are also considered creative writing, however, most creative writers create their own plot formed by their own unique ideas. Without having a plot, there’s no story.

And without a story, you’re really just writing facts on paper, much like a journalist. Learn how to plot your novel and you’ll open up the possibility of writing at a higher level without the need to find your story as much.

Character development

Characters are necessary for creative writing. While you can certainly write a book creatively using the second person point of view (which I’ll cover below), you still have to develop the character in order to tell the story.

Character development can be defined as the uncovering of who a character is and how they change throughout the duration of your story. From start to end, readers should be able to understand your main characters deeply.

Underlying Theme

Almost every story out there has an underlying theme or message – even if the author didn’t necessarily intend for it to. But creative writing needs that theme or message in order to be complete.

That’s part of the beauty of this form of art. By telling a story, you can also teach lessons.

Visual Descriptions

When you’re reading a newspaper, you don’t often read paragraphs of descriptions depicting the surrounding areas of where the events took place. Visual descriptions are largely saved for creative writing.

You need them in order to help the reader understand what the surroundings of the characters look like.

Show don’t tell writing pulls readers in and allows them to imagine themselves in the characters’ shoes – which is the reason people read.

Point of View

There are a few points of views you can write in. That being said, the two that are most common in creative writing are first person and third person.

  • First Person – In this point of view, the narrator is actually the main character. This means that you will read passages including, “I” and understand that it is the main character narrating the story.
  • Second Person – Most often, this point of view isn’t used in creative writing, but rather instructional writing – like this blog post. When you see the word “you” and the narrator is speaking directly to you, it’s second person point of view.
  • Third Person – Within this point of view are a few different variations. You have third person limited, third person multiple, and third person omniscient. The first is what you typically find.

  • Third person limited’s narrator uses “he/she/they” when speaking about the character you’re following. They know that character’s inner thoughts and feelings but nobody else’s. It’s much like first person, but instead of the character telling the story, a narrator takes their place.
  • Third person multiple is the same as limited except that the narrator now knows the inner thoughts and feelings of several characters.
  • The last, third person omniscient, is when the narrator still uses “he/she/they” but has all of the knowledge. They know everything about everyone.

While non-creative writing can have dialogue (like in interviews), that dialogue is not used in the same way as it is in creative writing. Creative writing (aside from silent films) requires dialogue to support the story.

Your characters should interact with one another in order to further the plot and develop each character other more.

Imaginative Language

Part of what makes creative writing creative is the way you choose to craft the vision in your mind.

And that means creative writing uses more anecdotes, metaphors, similes, figures of speech, and other figurative language in order to paint a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Emotional Appeal

All writing can have emotional appeal. However, it’s the entire goal of creative writing. Your job as a writer is to make people feel how you want them to by telling them a story.

Creative Writing Examples

Since creative writing covers such a wide variety of writing, we wanted to break down the different types of creative writing out there to help you make sense of it. Y ou may know that novels are considered creative writing, but what about memoirs?

Here are examples of creative writing:

  • TV show scripts
  • Movie scripts
  • Songs

9 Creative Writing Exercises to Improve Your Writing

Writing is just like any other skill. You have to work at it in order to get better.

It’s also much like other skills because the more you do it, the stronger you become in it. That’s why exercising your creative writing skills is so important.

How do you start creative writing?

The best authors out there, including Stephen King, recommend writing something every single day. These writing exercises will help you accomplish that and improve your talent immensely.

#1 – Describe your day with creative writing

This is one of my favorite little exercises to keep my writing sharp and in shape.

Just like with missing gym sessions, the less you write, the more of that skill you lose. Hannah Lee Kidder, a very talented author and Youtuber, gave me this writing exercise and I have used it many times.

Creative Writing Exercise:

All you have to do is sit down and describe your day – starting with waking up – as if you were writing it about another person. Use your creative writing skills to bring life to even the dullest moments, like showering or brushing your teeth.

#2 – Description depiction

If you’re someone who struggles with writing descriptions or you just want to get better in general, this exercise will help you do just that – and quickly.

In order to improve your descriptions, you have to write them with a specific intention.

With this exercise, the goal is to write your description with the goal of showing the reader as much as you can about your character without ever mentioning them at all.

Save This Resource NOW for Quick Reference Later…

200+ Fiction Writing Prompts In the Most Profitable Genres

Come up with your NEXT great book idea with over 200 unique writing prompts spanning 8 different genres. Use for a story, scene, character inspo, and more!