Lesson 3: Getting in Creative Writing Deeper
- To learn how to condition the mind for writing
- To discuss what it takes to write good fiction
- To identify problems writers often face and how to deal with them
Quick Navigation through the Lesson 3:
One of the biggest challenges when writing is being able to write well even when you feel uninspired; in this section we learn about how to get inspired. We also delve deeper into what it takes to become an awesome writer.
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Inspiration: The Write Frame of Mind
While inspired writing definitely does exist, actual inspiration as it is seen in the context of monoliths and floating muses does not. Or rather—does not always, if ever, show itself.
Writer Jeff Goin argues that what differentiates a good writer from a bad one is that the former keeps writing whereas the latter quits. A good writer is able to understand that the end-goal is not to write a staggering work of genius and subsequently gain fame, but to keep improving.
If you really want to write, you must find ways to seek out the inspiration you need. To be able to write well, you will need to condition your mind for the task. Listed below are a couple of tips which will help you.
Write regularly. Writing is a skill—no one is born a good creative writer, although some people may be more predisposed toward language. Writing is basically taking a feeling or observation, translating that into thought and turning that thought into a cohesive, astute statement. And like all skill sets, the more you practice, the better you get at it. A lot of the time we can feel affected by something but we can’t always write about it. To remedy that, the best thing to do is to keep writing so that eventually the translation of feeling into thought into words becomes more and more effortless.
Ask yourself hypothetical questions. Creativity in writing has a lot to do with the imagination. One doesn’t necessarily have to experience what one is writing about to be able to write about it—obviously, or fiction itself would not exist—but one does have to be able to picture it. To condition yourself for this, every time you make a decision (whether fictional, or otherwise) try and list down all possible scenarios as best as you can. That way for every one decision, you will have come up with a number of (possibilities for) stories.
Read a lot. Reading allows us one of the greatest forms of empathy—by reading, we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and live out adventures that we can’t. If we locked ourselves in a closet, all we would find are clothes or—at the worst, suffocation. But upon picking up The Chronicles of Narnia, a wardrobe becomes a gateway to another world, one that we cannot literally experience. This expands our horizons significantly as well as allows us to think up different ways in which to frame our stories or poems.
Writing: What It Takes
One of the most important things when writing is to decide what form you would like your work to take: poetry or prose? The form you decide on will dictate almost everything about your output—the kind of language to use, the length or brevity, the situations you will need to understand. Furthermore, you need to know what makes a good piece of work: it is hardly ever just a matter of taste.
Aristotle argued that what makes a work effective is how well it’s able to pull off Organic Unity or the coming together of all the elements to seamlessly achieve mimesis or effective mimicry of the real world. Even in the genres of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, mimesis is necessary: good fictive worlds are those which are also bound to their own logic.
Edgar Allan Poe defined the short story (which was a predecessor of the novel) as being effective if it has a single effect on the reader—whether it be fear, joy, melancholy. And so all of the elements of your work should effectively point to that.
Decide on what you want to achieve. Think about what you want your audience to feel after reading your work. Do you want them to laugh? To cry? Proceed accordingly by choosing the right touches.
Begin in medias res. When a story starts in the middle of a plot, we say that it began in medias res. This was used by great writers like Dante Alighieri and Homer. This helps draw your audience in because they are immediately brought to the heart of the matter.
Obstacles: Jumping Over the Hurdles
There are a lot of mindless mistakes that we can make while writing. Listed below are a couple of the most common obstacles to writing well and how they can be overcome.
Overuse of empty adjectives and adverbs. Most writers who are starting out think that the longer a sentence is, the better. So they populate the sentences with adjectives and adverbs that don’t enhance the meaning of a sentence.
Her dress glimmered quietly.
The world quietly doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence (because neither dresses nor the action of glimmering are expected to be otherwise) so it is best cut off. To avoid this, always ask yourself how does this change the sentence?
Misuse of punctuation. Like adjectives and adverbs, punctuation is great if used correctly. However, if misused, then your audience may misconstrue what you mean to say.
Can you hear me?!?!?!?!?!?!
The additional question marks and exclamation points don’t have anything to do with the sentence or the sentiment and are jarring to look at or read. To avoid this, focus instead on the way you word your sentences.
In this section we learned about how to condition ourselves to write. We can conclude that inspiration is everywhere—we can find ways to get over any of the roadblocks we encounter. We were able to discuss what it takes to become the great writers we want to be along with how to overcome the obstacles which might hinder us from that goal.
In the coming chapter, we’ll be tackling how to make this dream come true: we’ll be enumerating the concrete tools and skills we’ll need as writers. Moreover, we’ll be learning how to apply this to our work—a step closer to making our dream of becoming writers come true.