Over the years I have had quite a few requests from people wanting to know how to tap into and use their creativity to become better writers. The nice thing is that the techniques to use your creativity to be more prolific are the same in any creative arena, so even if you're not planning on writing you may still get some benefit from this article.
When writing, the blank page (or, these days, the screen) can be the most daunting thing in the world. Whether you are writing an article, essay, term paper, short story, screenplay, or novel, staring at emptiness knowing that you have to fill it all by yourself is overwhelming.
Michael Chrichton, author of Jurassic Park and many other best sellers said, “books aren't written - they're rewritten. " Keep this in mind whatever you may be writing. Most people find the task of editing and re-working material much easier than creating it in the first place. This leads to 2 important points when writing a first draft:
1) Be ok with your first draft being awful!
The goal of draft 1 is quite simply to get it done. Too often writers stare at the blank page and try to put together words, sentences, and paragraphs in their heads that will be nearly perfect. Give yourself permission to write terribly and your first draft will flow onto the page much more freely and effortlessly.
2) Don't stop!
Immediately after you've written what you know to be a bad sentence or paragraph, the urge to re-work it right then can be very strong. This is especially true if you've never played around with this style of creative writing. Just acknowledge that you wrote a bad paragraph and know that you will return to fix it later. Just keep writing so that you finish. Remember that the goal of draft 1 is to get it done!
If you can commit to adopting these two attitudes, being willing to be awful and not stopping, you will increase the speed with which you crank out your first drafts immensely.
This sounds simple, and it is, but it's not always easy. You may have to go against years of training and conditioning. Here are a few ideas to help your writing flow out of you:
1) Turn off all distractions.
Usually when I sit down to write I have to close my web browsers and email. The temptation to pause at the end of a paragraph and surf for a minute or two or check and respond to a quick email may be too strong. Take stock of what your particular distractions are. Do you leave the TV on and put half of your attention on that? Do you have other work up on the screen that you switch to whenever you feel “stuck"? Turn them all off, and commit to focusing on flowing.
If I had a nickel for every time I spent more time putting off writing something than I did actually writing, I would probably be able to retire already. Sometimes we make the task so large in our heads that we forget how quickly we can finish things when we get to it.
I'll confess, I put off writing this article for about 2 weeks. Once I committed to starting, I knocked out draft 1 in about 30 minutes. . .
If starting at the beginning is daunting, start in the middle. Start with what's easiest so you can build up some momentum. An important rule to remember in just about anything, but definitely in anything creative, is that there is no one right way. Find out what works for you, and do it! I write pretty linearly, so I'll start at the beginning and work my way through. That doesn't mean you have to.
Do whatever it takes to just start.
3) Think of answering questions.
Writing a piece explaining something can seem a little tough, especially if you don't spend a lot of time lecturing or teaching. However, we all answer questions everyday. It's how we as humans converse. If you're having trouble writing or getting started, try to ask yourself some questions.
For example, for this article I took some questions I received from an online question form and just answered them. Primarily, I took the question, “how can I use my creativity to write better?" and answered it.
What question are you trying to answer in your piece? Admittedly, this technique doesn't work as well for fiction, but I find it helps my non-fiction writing immensely.
4) Commit to output.
Set a goal for yourself that is just a little bit out of what you might be comfortable doing, but still within what you think you can do. People often set goals that are either too big or too small.
If you set a small goal to write one paragraph a day because that's what you are comfortable with, that may work, and you may get your piece done after a veeeeerrrryyyyy long time, but you are not growing and improving that way. On the other side, many, many people overreach and say, “ok, I'm going to bang out this 5 page paper right now. " No wonder they procrastinate. . .
Once again, find what works for you, but make sure you set goals that are big enough to get your job done and keep you growing, while realistic enough to get you to start writing (remember idea #2 above. . . )
For me, I commit to finishing draft 1 of a shorter piece when I start. For longer pieces, I commit to writing for 20 minutes continuously. It's amazing how quickly pages pile up even in that short time frame. It's also amazing how I used to say to myself, “today I will sit for one hour at my computer and just write. " I probably said that to myself everyday for 4 months. Can you guess how many times I actually sat for an hour at my computer and wrote? That's right, a big fat 0 times! 20 minutes is enough for me to produce what I need to, while being within my reach to do.
These ideas can be applied to any kind of writing, whether it's articles, non-fiction, blogging, or any kind of fiction (did you know that Stephen King almost never outlines his work? He starts with a character and a premise, and just flows and lets the story take on a life of it's own. I figure if it's good enough for Stephen King it's good enough for me! For more on that, read his non-fiction book, “On Writing. ")
The key really is to tap into your creative flow. Whether you write your own e-book, or write the great American novel, or just want to write your school papers faster, your creativity will be incredibly helpful to you. I hope this article has given you some great ideas that you can use - now stop procrastinating and start writing!!
Avish Parashar is a dynamic professional speaker who shows organizations and individuals how to get what they want using the Art and Science of improv comedy. He weaves together humorous stories, witty observations, and interactive exercises from improvisational comedy to get people laughing, learning, and motivated!
For more free articles, downloads, and resources, visit: http://www.AvishParashar.com
To learn how you can simply and powerfully unleash your creativity, visit http://www.SuperchargeYourCreativity.com