There are many benefits to creative writing, these benefits have added weight when considering that creative writing is actually being used for cathartic purposes by therapists’ patients. If you need more convincing Jordan Rosenfeld outlines ten reasons why writing is good for you and Susan Perry gives her account of why ‘writing in flow’ is good for one’s mental health. So creative writing (and writing in general) contributes to having a good, happy and healthier life. Yet, despite knowing this I am struggling to write creatively at the moment.
My hope is that by writing this post it will give me the kick I need to finally start writing more fiction! I’m sure there are many people who would fancy themselves as competent creative writers but struggle to sit down and actually start writing and prove to themselves they are actually good. This is not necessarily because these wannabe writers are lazy. If I consider myself, I am actually quite busy a lot of the time. I’m working temporary jobs, searching for permanent jobs, keeping up to date with this blog, exercising regularly, socialising, working on my mum’s house and maintaining a long-distance relationship. This is quite minimal compared to other people’s excuses for not sitting down and starting to write that short story, novella or thousand page science fiction book. For example, mothers and fathers who balance full-time jobs whilst raising children make my reasons for not writing feel relatively minimal.
Despite these excuses and reasons for not necessarily having time to write, most of the time, if not all of the time, it is because people are a bit scared, or at least so I have been told. I’m currently reading and have read a few books on how to write novels and short stories and they all similarly state that people are often scared to initially put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This is probably why I haven’t been doing much creative writing. I am worried about how hard it will be, if it will be any good and a host of other anxieties about my creative writing skillset. Fortunately for myself and any other aspiring writer who may be reading, I am going to collate four strict rules to follow in the coming weeks in the hope that it will aid those waning creative pieces. If these rules are followed, the benefits of writing will certainly be given the freedom to positively affect the writer.
Write for thirty minutes a day minimum. John Grisham wrote his first novel whilst he working as a lawyer and serving in the House of Representatives at Mississippi. He was a working full time in important and stressful role and he still found the time to write a novel – and a critically acclaimed novel at that! You can find the time to write you just have to change your routine and maybe let go of a couple of bad habits. For example, instead of watching television for an hour when you return from work, write for thirty minutes first and then watch thirty minutes of television to unwind. On Saturday and Sunday mornings get up early and allow yourself half an hour to write before enjoying the activities of the weekend. You can find time to write, think about the hours of day that you waste doing menial activities!
Read for thirty minutes a day minimum. The best writers in the world are massive, massive bookworms. It seems obvious that if you want to improve your creative writing, think of new ideas and get inspiration, reading great works of fiction are undoubtedly going to help you with these goals. It is not always easy to read at length if we have lots of things to do, but fitting in thirty minutes on the commute to work, at lunch or before bed is a manageable amount of time. If you doubt whether reading other books is important, a quick google search found me forty famous authors who say otherwise.
Have a notepad, phone or laptop to hand at all times. I’ve read this quite a few times in different books and blogs about creative writing. Ideas and inspiration come at various different and often awkward times. If you have suddenly have something to write down, be it story ideas or a description of a place or person, do not hesitate to write it down. Ideas go as quickly as they come so writing it down will act as a reference point for you later on. Similarly, if you are compelled to write a description this will stand alone as a piece of creative writing or may even be incorporated into something bigger. I remember reading that one particular author had hundreds of descriptions of sunsets from previous experience that she would insert into her writing, you may build up a back catalogue of descriptions for yourself.
Slow down, breathe in and take in your surroundings once a day. This last rule may seem a bit odd, but when you think about it, it’s actually quite relevant. An author is essentially a spectator. He/she needs to have an eye for detail, a feeling for the ambiance of a place and great understanding of what exactly is happening in the scene they are describing. If you slow down, listen to your breathing and really concentrate on what is happening around you, you are effectively becoming a spectator. For example, if you are at the train station, look around. Who is there? Is anyone drinking coffee? Is it cold? What time is the train coming? What is the vibe? Are people smiling? Are they frowning? Practice this just once a day for five minutes or less and you will likely improve your writing skills or at the very least feel the benefits of escaping your head for a few minutes and embracing your surroundings. I did exactly this in the centre of London and was delighted to notice a minuscule bug crawling across my hand!
So there are four rules that I will follow in order to give myself that kick I need to start writing creative pieces once again. Feel free to join me if you too need to kick start your creative writing as well. Of course, if you are feeling more ambitious, why not lengthen the hour and five minutes I have outlined above. After all, thirty minutes of writing may not be enough for everyone! Feel free to comment with any queries or thoughts on rules I have outlined.