Technically, any writing in which you have some artistic freedom can be considered creative writing — including non-fiction like memoirs, biographies, interviews, essays, and even many emails. Whether you want to improve your creative writing skills because you are drawn to fiction or because you run a small business and hope to learn how to write the kind of content that will help convert website visitors to customers, knowing where to start can be tricky.
To hone your creative writing technique, you can, of course, choose from some of countless writing prompts found online — and then learn more as you compare your own work to the way in which others have chosen to tackle the same prompts. You can participate in writing competitions, or find a home in a writers’ group where feedback is freely exchanged. These tried and tested ways to improve your writing all work. If you’re the kind of person who can seemingly never decide whether to start, on the other hand, you also have some other options.
For cool ways to get into creative writing that you may not have thought about — and that don’t require you to come up with a whole new idea from scratch, you can draw inspiration from almost any text you come across in your daily life.
Why not make a list of your all-time favorite novels, and then play around with them? You can:
- Write creative reviews in which you explain what you loved about your most cherished novels, and what always bothered you.
- Imagine how else a book could have ended, and then write your very own alternative ending — or take it up a notch, and come up with five different final chapters for a novel.
- Could the protagonist have made an entirely different choice at an important crossroads, yet still ended up exactly where they did? Choose a particularly action-filled chapter to completely rework — aiming for the same style as the original book — without altering the conclusion in any way.
- Writing fan fiction from the perspective of a side character is another great way to practice creative writing.
Aspiring creative non-fiction writers can also have some fun with news articles:
- Choose a dry press release and rewrite it in the form of a hyped-up tabloid article, or vice versa. You’d be surprised how creative actually aiming to turn an engaging text into a dry, academic, work can be.
- Take a big breaking story, imagine what might happen next, and write a news article from the perspective of a reporter from the future.
- Examine an op-ed and write a retort from the opposing point of view.
Even random emails currently clogging up your inbox can serve as creative writing inspiration:
- Do you keep getting annoying marketing emails? Write an email explaining why people should never buy that product or service. (No, don’t send it.)
- Got a relative or friend who always sends you updates about their life? Try to see how you can make their words more creative without altering the content.
- Go on! Write the kind of passionate, colorful email to your boss, your ex, your teacher, or your real estate agent that you’re always tempted to but would never dare to — in a Word document, of course, so that you don’t accidentally hit “send”.
If you already have the decent beginnings of an essay, short story, or other piece of creative writing, that, too, can serve as the basis for a creative writing exercise. Read it. Pick out your most common but slightly boring verbs, nouns, and adjectives, or even entire phrases, as well as any sentence structures you repeat one too many times.
Variations of the verbs “to go”, “to say”, “to see”, and “to come” are easily overused, for instance, along with the generic adjectives “good”, “bad”, “small”, and “big”. Every creative writer also has their very own pet words and phrases that tend to make it into everything they produce.
Ban yourself from using these tired and overused crutches entirely, and then set about rewriting your piece. You may well end up with something better than you usually write, but even if you don’t, it’s going to be different — and that means you’re exercising your creative muscles.
These easy exercises can help anyone start creative writing. Whether you have six hours or 30 minutes to devote to writing, you can get started right away. Don’t forget to keep the results, even if you are not thrilled with them, so you can analyze your progress over time.