1. WRITE REGULARLY
The best tips are the simple ones and one of the best creative writing tips I know was given to me by the late Maeve Binchy. Maeve was a very kind woman and I met her during a difficult period in my own life.
At the time I was a single mum and very broke. I had returned to education and was studying Film and Television, specializing in script writing. I was wondering and worrying about whether I could ever make it through the course. Maeve kindly wrote me some very encouraging letters which included some great writing advice and tips.
The most important thing she told me was to write regularly. In the earlier part of her career she was a newspaper journalist and she used to get up one hour earlier each day and spent the full hour writing. She did this every single day before going to work.
This is very simple but great advice. You don’t have to take this literally some people are better suited to staying up late and writing in the early hours – it is the regularity that matters – n0t the time of day. If you write regularly you’ll soon find the best time of day for you anyway.
Writing regularly also helps you to establish a routine. New habits generally take about three weeks to begin to feel natural. Once you have established this routine it will suddenly begin to become easier and you feel guilty on the days you miss it. This little bit of guilt that reminds you that you are wasting your time and talent is a good thing. The human mind is never more efficient than when it is throwing up excuses for us to procrastinate.
2. MAKE TIME
If you have difficulty managing time, or find yourself being interrupted by the demands of family or friends, you need to find ways to claim your time. It is your time and don’t forget it. If you need a bit of help or advice with this there are loads of great tips on how to cope with interruptions and how to make more time to write here.
3. PLAN YOUR STORY
The more work you put into your creative writing, the more it will improve. Another great writing tip is to plan your story. I personally always plan. I know there are people who swear they never plan. Some say they are too creative, or too much of a genius to plan, or that their creativity must spill unheeded onto the page like little pearls. Well…good luck to them. I on the other hand need a plan.
I write a lot and don’t have time to waste getting lost in my story so now, I always begin by planning my story and by the time I’m finished the plan I am absolutely itching to write the story. The plan itself acts as a motivator and a clear view of the story ahead adds to the excitement of writing.
You may feel differently and decide to go ahead without planning. I know some writers do succeed without any form of planning. But, I also know that if you blindfolded a hundred people and made them run across the motorway some of them would survive – but I wouldn’t risk it. Up to you!
4. TAKE YOUR TIME
Most writers work hard for years before they achieve success. Creative writing is a process and it takes work and time. Don’t be put off by the idea of work and time. What else would you have been doing? Watching television? If you enjoy what you are doing it doesn’t feel like work – it feels like fun!
Think about getting to your deathbed and thinking back. Would you be wishing you’d watched a few more episodes of a soap, or would you be wishing you’d written that book?
5. STAY MOTIVATED
Most of us are used to having jobs and a boss or a supervisor of some sort to keep us motivated and working hard. But when you are writing you need to motivate yourself and some people find that difficult.
It does take time to get used to being your own boss – which is exactly what you are if you a writer. So, if you want to learn how to stay motivated so that you continue to work regularly and productively there’s a great motivation exercise here.
6. KEEP IT SIMPLE
A lot of people spend too much time struggling to do more work – to get more money – to buy more stuff. Do we need all this stuff? Or are we just filling in the gaps in life. There are better ways to fill in gaps than stuff.
If you have any questions, or comments, or if you would like to contribute some creative writing tips of your own – please do.
Best of luck with your writing.
‘It’s good to have an end to work towards but it is the journey that matters in the end.’
Ursula K. LeGuin