I’m sure you’ve heard stories about famous writers who say they can’t write until they’re inspired or unless they have the perfect writing conditions.
For these writers, inspiration might hit in six months when they’re walking out of a pub in London or having brunch in New York City. The perfect writing conditions might be a rainy afternoon in October or when the planets align and Jupiter is rising.
If you’re a student in an English class who’s struggling to be creative and feel confident in the world of creative writing, you likely don’t have the luxury of time. You might only have until next Tuesday to be inspired or for the planets to line up in your favor.
If that’s the case, what do you do to get the creative writing juices flowing? You take action, rather than wait for inspiration. Begin by reading (and practicing) the four creative writing tips in this post.
Four Creative Writing Tips to Boost Your Confidence
You don’t have to be a famous author to be a creative writer. (After all, every famous author had to start writing something before becoming famous, right?)
You also don’t have to be afraid to write. Everyone is creative. You simply need to practice flexing your creative muscles. Try these four tips to boost your confidence in your creative writing abilities.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” —Dr. Seuss
Whether you’re a fan of William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Suzanne Collins, or Dr. Seuss, the truth is that you’re not any of these authors. (And that’s fine. You can still be an awesome writer.)
Even after studying what great authors do well, though, you shouldn’t try to become those writers.
Find your own voice. Write in a style that works for you. Write about your own world and what you know. You may need to do a little research to get the details just right, but that’s fine. The key here is to be authentic.
Inspiration can hit you when you least expect it, like when you’re waiting in a mile-long TSA line or when you’re getting your teeth cleaned. There are plenty of times, though, that inspiration doesn’t find you. You need to find it.
How do you “find” inspiration?
Start by considering your interests and what you might want to write about.
If you’re writing about nature, then by all means, go outside. Sitting in front of your laptop isn’t going to be as inspiring as taking a walk through the woods or sitting by a pond—just look at what that did for Thoreau.
Already tried immersing yourself in a new environment and still feel like you don’t have what it takes to be creative? Try something else.
Why not look to your own life and memories as inspiration?
That road trip to Mt. Rushmore when you were 10 might have been your average vacation, but think back to that time your dad took a wrong turn somewhere in South Dakota or when you almost lost your little brother in a crowd.
Here’s the thing—you’re not writing a narrative essay that demands you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You can take a few (or a lot) of creative liberties when you write the story as fiction.
Maybe in the world of creative writing your dad went the wrong way on the interstate, and you ended up in a small town diner, talking to a patron who you later learned was actually a wanted fugitive. Maybe your brother really did get lost. Maybe he ended up hanging out with a school group, and it took six hours before anyone in the group even realized that he wasn’t actually a member of the class.
If you still feel like you don’t have any stories to tell or are struggling to find inspiration, read 13 Surprising Sources of Inspiration for Writing and 4 Ways to Mine Social Media for Better Topics to Write About.
Or read other students’ creative writing pieces from our essay database to see what types of stories create compelling narratives.
Break through writer’s block
Did you know that Maya Angelou occasionally rented a hotel room to write in or that Stephen King likes a glass of water or tea and writes at the same time every day? J. K. Rowling, on the other hand, writes whenever she can and made up the names of characters on a sick bag when she was on an airplane (Bustle.com).
The point is that different writers have different routines and have various techniques to help them write.
You need to find what works for you.
Try a writing schedule. To begin, write at different times of the day. You might find that you’re too sleepy in the morning or too exhausted at night but work best mid-afternoon.
Maybe you’ll learn that you work best in long marathon stretches. Maybe you’re more creative if you write between classes.
Brainstorming to break writer’s block
If you just can’t seem to get writing at any time of day, brainstorm ideas. Remember, you don’t have to start with an entire story idea. Sometimes you can start with bits and pieces that turn into something brilliant.
For instance, you could…
- Create character names and their personality traits. A common name like Joe Smith could be perfect for a quirky character that is anything but ordinary.
- Write one scene that seems to stick in your mind. Maybe you have an idea about a conflict at an ATM or a wedding inside a fast-food restaurant. Perhaps there’s a funny moment on the subway or in line at a stadium restroom.
- Craft an interesting line. Though you may not have a complete idea for a story, starting with one line can get you moving in the right direction. Imagine starting with a line like, “It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” George Orwell might not have figured out the entire storyline of the dystopian classic 1984 when he wrote that line, but it’s a great hook that certainly grabs readers’ attention.
Want more tips for beating writer’s block? Read 4 Proven Ways to Keep Writer’s Block From Ruining Your Essay.
Have no fear
Ever try to skateboard, to audition for the lead in a dramatic play, or to do anything that you might fail at (or at least flounder at a little bit) on the first try?
Creative writing is a lot like these types of activities. You might struggle at first. You may realize that your first efforts require a lot of revisions in order to be even close to mediocre.
And because of these fears, you might hold back. After all, no one wants to face rejection. Who wants people to laugh at their efforts?
But what if they don’t laugh? What if you find you have a gift for acting or that your first short story is nothing short of amazing?
The truth is that you’ll never know until you try.
The (not so bad) worst-case scenarios
If you’re still feeling worried about putting yourself out there, think about worst-case scenarios. (I know that seems like strange advice, but hear me out.)
- You workshop your story in class, and some people might not like it. That’s okay. Maybe you love all things J.R.R. Tolkein, but your classmates dislike everything he’s ever written. Even great authors can’t please everyone, so don’t bother worrying about it.
- Classmates may suggest you make revisions. That’s okay too. Constructive feedback is important and helps you improve as a writer. If you work closely with a piece of writing for a long time, you often miss subtle things that fresh eyes can see.
- Your prof gives you a bad grade. This is definitely not okay. Fear of a bad grade is always present, but if you work hard and get the help you need (and follow assignment guidelines), you should be fine.
See? Even the worst-case scenarios aren’t that bad.
Keep in mind that if you do fail (or falter more than you’d like), you can always rewrite (and you can rewrite as many times as it takes to create your masterpiece).
Bonus Creative Writing Tip: Ask for a Little Help From Your Friends
From time to time, we all need a little help from our friends.
If you’d like a few more creative writing tips from your friends (like me) at the Kibin essay writing blog, read 5 Ways to Break the Rules in Your Creative Writing Essays and How to Show Don’t Tell in Your Narrative Essay.
If you’re not sure your friends want to read your latest story (or if you’re still not sure you want them to read it), let your friends at Kibin help. As editors, we can help you polish your writing by catching errors you might miss and help you develop your writing skills by offering revision suggestions.
We’re also great cheerleaders and aren’t afraid to tell you when you’ve written something brilliant (and that will boost anyone’s confidence).