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How to Get Started with Creative Writing

woman working on a novel in a sunny cafe
Alissa Kumarova/Shutterstock

Creative writing is a great way to express yourself, hone your writing skills, and be more imaginative. Want to start penning some inventive tales and poems? Here are the things that will help you get typing.

What Is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a lot of things, so it may be easier to focus on what it’s not: writing college term papers, articles, or the like.

Creative writing is often referred to as literature. It’s not always made-up stories, but it is all about telling a story.

While an article might tell you how to do something or what’s happening in the world, creatively written works take you someplace and help you imagine other worlds, whether those worlds are real or made up. It’s an expressive form of writing, rather than a way of presenting facts.

When you want to try creative writing, it helps to know the different types of writing that fall under this umbrella term. You’ll want to start your foray into creative writing with one type, rather than overwhelming yourself with too many.

Here are some genres to start with:

  • Fiction (from vampire horror stories to realistic historical stories)
  • Poetry
  • Scripts for TV shows and movies
  • Plays
  • Songwriting
  • Memoirs (often written in a creative way, even if they are based on real events)

You can see why we’d suggest starting with one as trying to tackle so many different forms out of the gate would get pretty overwhelming pretty quickly.

Getting Started with Creative Writing

Once you choose which type of creative writing you want to delve into, start looking at the techniques needed to write creatively.

While there are no strict rules to adhere to, most creative pieces include at least some of the following:

  • A plot and plot development
  • Characters and character development
  • A setting for the story
  • A point of view (this could be first person, omniscient, or from the perspective of any of your characters)
  • Dialogue
  • An underlying theme
  • Metaphors (these work great in poetry)
  • Anecdotes
  • Emotional appeal
  • Imagination
  • Descriptive words and imagery

For some, the words will pour right out. For others, the writing process needs a little coaxing to get started.

Now that you know some of the stuff your writing needs in order to be creative, here are some tips to help you get started with your short story, poem, or play.

Pick a Place to Write

woman writing on a laptop with a cup of coffee

Finding a place of comfort and solitude for writing is important. Solitude, as a writer, doesn’t always have to mean you’re completely alone—it just means you’re away from distractions.

Many people do their writing at coffee shops and libraries, where plenty of noise is going on around them. The solitude comes from the lack of direct interruptions (like the dog wanting to go outside or a roommate knocking at the door).

If you have a home office, that may be the place you find most comfortable for writing. A screened-in porch can give you the natural light and view of the world you need for inspiration. Each person’s preferred writing space will be different, so experiment to find what works for you.

Make a Ritual out of It

Not all, but most writers have some sort of ritual they do before they start writing.

Rituals can be something as minute as placing your pen and paper on the desk in a certain spot before sitting down, or something as time-consuming as brewing a cup of tea and watching your favorite inspirational film before you get started.

You don’t have to have a ritual, but if one works for you, use it.

Write Every Day

One thing most writers will tell you is that you need to write every day. Even on the days you don’t feel like writing or don’t think you have anything to write, you need to write something.

This is why all writers should keep a journal. It’s a great place to keep prompts, to write when you don’t feel inspired, and to reference for future stories.

Search “writing prompts” online, and you’ll find a plethora of memes and more that will help you when you need a little push. Set aside 20 minutes each day where you write anything you can manage to. Don’t worry about whether it makes any sense or will be useable in the future, just write. You can go back and make edits later, or choose not to do anything with it.

Practice Makes a Better Writer

Spend some time learning creative writing techniques. You can find lessons online that will walk you through learning different types of poetry, how to build a character, or how to create a fictional world.

On the days when the words aren’t coming freely, spend some time learning, which will have you writing in no time.

A great book for beginners (and anyone wanting to brush up on their creative writing skills) is The Daily Writer. Fred White walks you through all sorts of writing lessons, from getting down to the details of the story to writing satire.

You don’t have to go to college for a degree in creative writing, but you may find it useful to take an online class or two in the fields of creative writing you’re most interested in.

Join a Writers Group

The life of the writer might seem like a solitary one, but it doesn’t always have to be.

If you want to get good at writing creatively, it’s important to share your work with others. You can do this by joining a local writers group, or finding one online.

Many writers group do readings and critiques of members’ works, and have exercises to help with inspiration. This gives you a chance to spend time with like-minded individuals who are passionate about creative writing, too.

Why Are You Writing?

Finally, consider your reasons for creative writing.

If you simply like to write, that may be motivation enough. But many people begin their foray into the world of creative writing with the hope of getting published. If this is your goal, make sure you’re finding the publications and contests you want to enter and staying focused on the deadlines they have for entries and reading periods. Deadlines are very motivational.

Perhaps your goal is to write a novel or a poetry book. You have plenty of options when it comes to publishing books, from big-name publishers and small publishing houses to self-publishing. Each writer has their own preference, but you have to start writing if you want to have a story that may turn into the next Fifty Shades of Grey.

Whether it’s for personal benefit, future publication, or something else, there are countless reasons to give creative writing a try. Get started today, and see what your writing hobby blossoms into!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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