How to Get Your Creative Writing Juices Flowing
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, whether fiction or non-fiction, creativity keeps you productive and adds an element of fun and the unexpected to your profession. Creativity can help you turn an average story into an exciting tale, it can help you turn research material into a fresh and original article, and it can help you when you have to write 25 articles about 1 topic. And it can help you market yourself to others. But even very creative writers run out of their creative juices from time to time.
Here are some suggestions for finding your creativity when it’s in short supply:
- Look for writing prompts. You’ll find books and websites dedicated to getting you started. Many prompts will give you an assignment or a topic starter. Sometimes this can help you get creative juices really flowing. Here’s a website that can help: creativewritingprompts.com.
- Try a new source of information. Are you doing research? Instead of looking at Wikipedia or Google, look some place else. How about dogpile.com? This site blends results from several search engines so could give you a fresh take on your topic.
- Write a poem. Even if you’ve never tried your hand at one, writing a few lines that rhyme will make you focus on exactly what you want to say. If you’re looking for a better way to say something, write a poem about exactly that topic. This will force you to think of using exact words and to apply “word economy” to your writing. If you simply need to clear your head, write a poem about a different subject altogether, like a beautiful or painful past experience for example.
- Go to the library. When was the last time you went to the library? This could be a great change of pace for finding some creativity. If available, look at old copies (like 100 years old) of newspaper and other writings about similar topics to find different angles on your topic. Look at media you normally wouldn’t seek out, like books written for children, or books written in a different language if you happen to know another one. The smell and feel of books alone can conjure up new inspiration in writers.
- Read. Reading can be a great way to inspire creativity. Read a passage from a book you already know to transport you into that writer’s world. Or pick up a magazine and read about a topic you’ve never read about and that takes you out of your comfort zone. For example, if you’re in the process of writing a romance novel, pick up a magazine on tattoos or read about how to build a garden shed.
- Take a walk. Watch television, do the dishes, walk the dog or take some pictures. Get lost in something for a while and this could spark some new ideas.
- Do some competitive analysis. Are you writing copy for a website? Check out their competitor’s site. This could help you see what’s missing from your client’s site and could help you see what you could position better than your client’s competitor.
- Sift through the thesaurus. Pick five new words to use in the next page you write. Pick words you don’t normally use.
- Edit an old piece of writing of yours or even a piece of writing from a newspaper, a book, or a magazine. Make it more creative.
- Pay attention to your word count. Twitter is an excellent tool for helping writers be more succinct. Because you can only say what you need to say in 140 characters or less, you do as William Strunk Jr. suggests and you avoid needless words.
- When creativity strikes hard, write down as many ideas as you can. Then, you have a list of things to come back to when you’re struggling. Keep paper and pen with you at all times if possible!
If you’re craving some human interaction, get on the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. And when is the last time you’ve seen your aunt Betty anyway? The idea is the same: feed your brain some new impressions.
Getting your creative juices flowing isn’t that hard. Maybe you can make it a habit to take yourself out of your routine at least once a week and transport yourself mentally or physically to a different place, away from your project. Most writers find that the creative well dries up once in a while and learning how to start up your creativity instead of staring at a blank page is simply a part of learning to become a good writer.
(Image credit: iStockphoto – adventtr)
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