Lots of new (and even seasoned) writers wonder how to be successful in creative writing. When I first started my writing journey, I had lots of great ideas, but I could never get them down on paper or on a word document. I was always nervous that I was doing things wrong and couldn’t tap into my full potential as a writer. Today, I’m going to give you a few pointers on how to not only be confident in your creative writing, but how to be successful as well.
What is Creative Writing?
All writing is creative. The term creative writing usually indicates fiction or poetry, but can also include songwriting, copywriting, blog writing, and more. The term “Creative Writing” is often compared with academic writing or journalism. However, to create compelling written work, creativity is required.
What Are The 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing?
The best ways to improve your creative writing are to read, brainstorm, build a routine, to be curious about your voice, and make time for research. And of course, it also helps to establish your online presence, share your work, be a people person, learn from the experts, and continue pushing yourself to try new things. Let’s take a closer look at these 10 ideas.
One of the biggest tools to becoming a successful writer is to be an avid reader. Reading is where you’ll gain inspiration, discover interesting techniques, learn from other authors, get ideas, and more. Read the works of authors you love, and then, read the books that those authors recommend. Read books you wouldn’t normally read, in styles that don’t usually inspire you. If reading strains your eyes, you can still “read” through listening to e-books and I’ve found that I am able to multitask on busier days when I’m able to listen to a juicy novel while doing other things like cooking or cleaning. Just remember that fantastic ideas come from reading and relishing in the worlds other authors take us.
2: Write Without Judgement
The title of this tip may seem odd but in order to get a good flow going or to have a few workable ideas down on paper, you will want to make sure you’re able to write freely, without judging your writing too soon. When you sit down for your daily writing practice, don’t use your eraser, and don’t use your delete key if you’re writing on the computer. Editing can happen later, in a whole different session. If you’re like most writers, only a small percentage of what you write will be usable, but you have to write a lot to get the good stuff. So, generate a lot of material, without deleting and erasing, and later pick out the gems you’ll want to edit, share, pitch to a publisher. Think of this as a way to get rid of material that’s cluttering your brain, allowing those creative juices to flow smoothly once you remove all the “junk” from your mind.
3: Build a Routine
Many people think that creative writing is like a lightning bolt – that you’ll be struck by inspiration at a moment’s notice and create something ingenious. Instead, creative writing involves a lot of discipline, and involves daily writing practice. Most of what you write you won’t publish or share. But by returning to your desk each day, you’ll hone your craft while developing a wealth of material; a small percentage of which will be brilliant.
Building a routine around your writing means you’re creating a habit. Put it on your schedule and don’t schedule anything over it. I recommend setting aside a day and time for when you want to write. Then, choose what kind of writing you want to focus on during that time. Write a list, brainstorm, journal, create a haiku. Write no less than five minutes each day, or push yourself to write for thirty minutes. Whatever you choose, keep it consistent. This will give you practice and you will become increasingly fluid in your writing as you go. As you continuously work on your creative writing routine, you will find that writing becomes more natural.
4: Be Curious About Your Voice
As we gain some practice in writing, we all want to find our own authentic voice. Most writers aim to be similar to authors they know and love when it comes to making their own style. And yet, while having role models or writers who inspire you is certainly valuable, impersonating their voice will only get you so far. Every writer is unique, and the writers you emulate had their own specific audiences and their own purpose to what they were writing. Instead of simply emulating another writer’s style, be curious about your own voice. Write for YOUR audience, about subjects that fascinate and inspire YOU, and be driven by your own ideas.
Remember, your voice isn’t something you suddenly discover. And it won’t be something that never changes. Most likely, your voice will be something you work hard at shaping, and that you hone over the years. If you’re like most writers, your voice will develop over the years, becoming more mature as you evolve as a writer.
Believe it or not, many pieces of creative writing require some amount of research. If you’re writing a historical novel, you may need to dedicate time and energy to researching that particular period. If you’re writing poetry, you may need to research different poetry forms or structures. If you decide to use real locations like Orlando, Florida or Rome, Italy then you will want to make sure the imagery and street names match the area. Not only does this help our creative works come alive, but it gives readers an innate ability to watch the story unfold as though it were a film being viewed.
6: Establish an Online Presence
In my time of academically writing along with creatively writing, I was always told that I did not need a website to write. At the time, I thought that was the correct way of doing things. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Establishing your presence online is imperative. You don’t have to have a website, but I do recommend having a Journo portfolio or something similar. This will give you the ability to showcase your completed works and it gives potential employers and clients the ability to see what your style is.
In addition to creating your own website or Journo Portfolio, consider starting a blog, where you can showcase your voice, work, and ideas. With blogging, you increase your online presence, practice your writing, and gain an audience. You may eventually have a passive revenue from blogging, but the goal is to establish your online presence. This will give you the ability to get feedback from readers and to be promoted to other readers.
7. Share You Work
Sharing your work can be one of the most terrifying experiences for new writers – and even for seasoned professionals. And yet, sharing your creative writing gives you valuable information. It allows you to discover what resonates with your audience, and even helps you discover who your audience is. It helps you gain confidence, and challenges you to grow a thick skin when you get negative feedback. It helps you learn what feedback you want to listen to, and what feedback you choose not to take. Share your work at open mics, at public readings, on your blog, in creative writing groups and classes. But don’t stop there. Share your work by submitting it to publishers, magazines, zines, and online publications. Be bold!
8. Be a People Person
It’s important to set aside time to write, brainstorm, research, and edit – often those tasks need to happen in solitude. However, as a writer, it’s just as important to be around others. Take classes from experts, get a mentor, and go to a writer’s conference or workshop. Go to an open mic to share your poetry, or join a mastermind group where you can discuss your ideas, goals, challenges, and ambitions. If you lock yourself up in your studio with no exposure at all, chances are people may never discover you and your work. So get out there and make connections. You never know where they’ll lead, or how they’ll influence your work!
9. Learn from the Experts
Even the very best, most successful writers have room to grow and space to improve. Set aside time to learn from the people whose work you admire. Find a mentor you can turn to to ask questions. Read the books of great authors and poets. Find your idol’s website and read their blog. Sign up for a college creative writing course or take private lessons from a writing coach. Learning from the experts is something you can do throughout your life, and will open doors to you as a writer.
10. Try Your Hand at Failing
Failures give you valuable information about what works and what doesn’t. The more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn about your craft and about the industry in which you want to work. Write stories that go nowhere, or blog posts that don’t necessarily get a lot of views. Get rejected from a publishing house. Constantly push yourself to try new writing techniques and to find different avenues to share your work. The more you fail the more you grow. This brings us to point number 11: grow a thick skin!
11. Grow a Thick Skin
Not everyone will love your work, and most likely, you won’t find success overnight. Be ready to crash and burn. Be ready to get rejection letters. Be ready for colleagues to read your work and either not understand it, or just plain not like it. Being able to continue moving forward in the face of negative feedback, criticism, or (often worse) being entirely ignored, is one of the trademarks of a successful writer. Remember that ALL writers, from J.K. Rowling to Stephen King, have accepted failure and rejection throughout their careers. Don’t take a bad review or a rejection letter personally. Stay focused on the work at hand, and keep moving forward. This brings us perfectly to our last point!
And of Course… Keep Writing!
The most important – and often hardest – thing of all is to keep moving forward. Continue with your daily writing practice, submitting your work to publications, and maintaining a daily blog or other way to share your work. Continue even when you feel like you’re going nowhere, and that nobody is listening. Continue even when you get rejected. The act of moving forward is the one sure thing you can do to build your success as a writer, and if you can build the discipline of creating new work even when life gets tough, you’ll know you’ve succeeded.
So, if you’ve been wondering how to be successful in creative writing – follow these tips above, and see where your hard work takes you!