Writing Tips to Get Your Creative Juices Going

I’ve compiled a list of writing tips for the teen writing workshop I’m doing next week and thought I’d share. I wanted the kids to have something to take home to help with ideas when they’re feeling stuck.

Anyone have any favorite tips?

creative-juice-box

Some ideas for getting your creative juices going:

  • Turn off your inner editor. Visualize sending it on holiday or putting it in a cage, or draw a picture of it and tuck it away somewhere. Remember, editing is for later. First drafts aren’t meant to be polished. A bad first draft is far better than no first draft. Try not edit until you are done your first draft — many people find they get caught up in getting things perfect and never get the whole story told. Fixing grammar. spelling, punctuation, etc, is best done when you edit.

  • Remember: Your voice is authentic to you; only you can tell your story.

  • Try using an image, word, song, phrase… and do a clustering/brain storming/mind mapping exercise to get your ideas flowing. Put the idea in the middle of a blank page and write whatever comes to mind in branches off the central idea.

  • Consider writing Fan Fiction. Sometimes it’s daunting to come up with a whole world as well as a story. Fan Fic is great because the world is ready made.

  • Free write in a journal. There are thousands of sites with writing prompts, if you need one. Realize that your brain knows how to make connections if you get out of your own way.

  • Have your characters talk to each other until they have to do something. Just keep writing, even if you know it’s bad.

  • Switch things up. If you normal write on a computer, try a pen and paper, or vice versa. Try writing outside, in a coffee shop, at the library, in a different room of the house…

  • Set a timer with doable increments of time, such as 10-15 minutes, then take a break. Alternately, you can set a word or page goal for yourself. Lots of baby steps can add up until you have a finished story. Consider giving yourself some sort of reward when the timer goes off.

  • Write an outline, retroactively if you have to. Or if you have an outline and you are stuck, you may need to revisit it.

  • Ditch the outline and throw ninjas at your story, or take them to the circus, or maybe your characters are visited by aliens. Throwing in an unexpected plot twist can really juice up your writing. What’s the most unlikely thing that could happen? Do that.

  • Get up and go for a walk or do something physical. Sometimes you just need to get some fresh air or get your blood moving.

  • Eat a nutritious snack. It’s hard to think when your blood sugar is low.

  • Write from a different character’s point of view. This can help you to see your story in a new way. Or what would an inanimate object have to say? Or a dog?

  • Up the stakes. Sometimes we love our characters and are afraid to be mean to them. Unfortunately, that makes for boring reading. Make things bad for them, then make them worse. Torture them. Have them make terrible sacrifices. Take away the person or thing they rely on. Or move the goalposts — the consequences for failure suddenly get much worse.

  • Talk out your story with someone who is supportive. Sometimes a new point of view can help.

  • Skip around. If you are having trouble with one part of your story and are getting frustrated, skip to another part and come back to the troublesome bit later.

  • Get clear about your story — do you know who the protagonist and antagonists are? What are their motivations? What is the conflict? This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to write without knowing these things. Things will often fall into place when you and your characters know what they want.

  • Introduce a new character or kill someone off.

  • Have someone betray someone else or reveal a nefarious ulterior motive.

  • Flashbacks, dreams, or memories can help us to understand more about a character.

  • Give someone a terrible or exciting secret that they can’t talk about or have to lie about.

  • Listen to music or switch up your music, it might help you to shift gears in your brain.

  • Include all of your senses in your writing — sight, touch, smell, taste, sound. This is great for poetry and for making your writing more vivid.

  • Get creative — draw your characters, design a book cover, make a map of the world your story takes place in… Illustrate your story or poem. Or just doodle a bit and let your mind go free.

  • Ask questions: “What if…?” (what if I woke up and could fly?); “If only…”(if only a robot could do my chores); “I wonder…” (I wonder if that person at the bus stop has a story to tell.) “Wouldn’t it be interesting if…” (Wouldn’t it be interesting if I met my future self.)

  • Make the 2 most unlikely or unsuitable characters fall in love.

  • Imitation poem — find a poem you like and write one of your own in that style or compose a response to it.

  • Blackout poetry. Find an old book, magazine, or newspaper page. Blackout the words you don’t want, leaving only the words you do as your poem. Alternately, you can circle words that you are drawn to and use them to create a poem.

  • Daydream. Let your imagination run free, but keep a notebook on hand.

  • Have your character write you a letter telling you what the story is about.

  • Sometimes writer’s block is actually indecision. It can help to recognize this, make a plan and write. You can take the pressure off yourself by acknowledging that you can always rewrite later.

 

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