Lately, I’ve felt the need to get back into creative writing. I love fiction, especially short stories and for me those are more fun to write along with flash fiction. I love creating something new on a blank word document and developing characters in a short amount of time and seeing where they go. I also know that sometimes I’ll stare at my computer for a good 17 minutes before giving up and closing the empty document. Walking away from your story before you even begin is one of the worst things you can do because you haven’t given your work a chance yet. It’s like getting ready for a blind date and then shooting them a text to cancel 10 minutes before you meet them. Sure, the date might have been a disaster, but you would have learned from the disenchanting evening. The date also could have been amazing and led to more amazing dates until you married the person. Basically, you’ll never know until you give it a shot. Writing is a lot like that. You’ll never know if your story is any good until you give it a chance and if it doesn’t turn out the way you want then you’ll know what to do differently next time. Remember, writing is a process. Alright, let’s begin!
Step 1: Think about what interests you. I took a creative writing class last semester and my professor had us watch this interview with an author who said that you should write what you’re craving in a story. This way the story you want to read will be in existence and you’ll be able to satisfy the craving the way you want to. So, if you want to write a dark mystery noir about an adult Timmy and his old pal Lassie then you write that Lassie noir! Besides, you want to be interested in your story. Why write about something you don’t care about? Chances are if you don’t care, your readers won’t care. Where’s the fun in that?
Step 2: Look to your favorite authors. If you haven’t established your style yet, look at the authors that you enjoy reading from. Pay attention to the way they write and figure out why you feel attracted toward their style. I’m not saying to copy them word for word, but take pieces from them and let those be a foundation to help build up your own way of writing. This way you’re not starting from scratch and you have an idea of how you want to write. This can make a huge difference in your work and how you go about it.
Step 3: Create a soundtrack. This step may only appeal to a few of you, but I know that when I write I see things from a theatrical view. I also think about the soundtrack like what would play as Timmy is epically walking out of his burning house, leaving behind everything he ever knew without a second glance as Lassie his faithful companion struts next to him. I love movie scores so I created a playlist that I listen to while I’m writing so I can create the mood for the scene I’m doing. This has helped me tremendously because it puts me into the scene with the characters. The music gets me pumped for the scene. The words flow out easier considering I have to keep up with the tempo. If I listen to silence, my writing ceases along with the sound. If you haven’t tried putting a soundtrack to your work, I would give it a chance. It might snap you out of your writer’s block.
Step 4: Write down whatever pops into your head. If you worry too much about creating the perfect story on the first try, stop it. Rough drafts are rough for a reason. Just write whatever comes to your head even if it doesn’t make sense in the story. For example, if you can’t figure out what should happen next do this: “Timmy paced down the sidewalk when suddenly a man with seven eyes and a trench coat walked out of the shadows holding a sparkling beverage with a lemon clutching the glass’ rims.” Who is this weird looking guy and why does he have a sparkling beverage? It doesn’t matter because you can delete him later. Remember that not everything you write has to go into the final draft. The only reason I’m saying that it’s good to write whatever pops into your head is so you don’t stop writing. Writer’s block happens once you lift your fingers off the keyboard. If you feel yourself starting to get stuck just keep rolling with whatever weird idea you come up with. It may all be junk, but at least it’s keep your mind going which can help you come up with a good idea.
Step 5: Have fun. Creative writing shouldn’t have to feel like a chore. You’re the one in charge of the story. You’re the one making up the rules as you go. You don’t have a rubric to follow or a word count to meet. You’re just writing a story so have fun with it. It’s like realizing you’re in a dream and still being asleep enough to control what happens next. You have the power to develop these characters and plots however you like and if you’re not happy with the result, just try again. Write something that interests you and just go with it. Don’t over think your story, at least not with the first draft. If you want something serious and though provoking, tweak the story later. Sometimes it helps to get silly about your story if you’re stressing out because stress will only make the writing process worst. Have fun, enjoy your characters, don’t worry too much about being perfect, and create something awesome. Best of luck!