“Creativity (or “creativeness”) is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts.” Wikipedia
Creativity is a skill, strengthened with consistency. Physical trainers will recommend variety, a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training to condition your body. The same technique can be applied to creative writing.
The following strength exercises focus on building certain skills:
Write a paragraph or page with short concise sentences, limiting the length of each to three words. This forces you to choose the best words to say exactly what you mean to say.
He turned away. She sobbed uncontrollably. They were through. Their love destroyed. Her sin unforgivable. Hasty lies told. Their daughter confused. Her daughter now. He turned away. Left them both.
Write a paragraph or page with words beginning with a single letter. This exercise, called an alliterative, is just one example of constrained writing which stretches your vocabulary and imagination. The Oulipo group is a gathering of writers who use constrained writing techniques, including:
- Lipogram - a letter (commonly e or o) is outlawed.
- Palindromes – such as the word “radar,” read the same forwards and backwards.
- Acrostics – first letter of each word/sentence/paragraph forms a word or sentence.
- Reverse-lipograms - each word must contain a particular letter
Ernest Hemingway was a master of words, using simple yet poignant words in his stories. Broaden your vocabulary and find just the right word for a particular tone or mood.
Begin at the end of the story and write to the beginning. They say hindsight is 20/20 so if you know where the story will end, it may be easier to see how it got there.
Aerobic exercises include reading and writing everyday.
All writers must read. Read for pleasure, but also read to hone your craft. Study the way in which other writers develop characters, set a scene or use descriptive language. Read several genres and compare the styles within genres. When you find a genre you enjoy reading, identify what it is you like – the pace, themes, settings, voice or specific writers. Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury are both Sci Fi writers, but they have very different styles.
There is a reason why most writers recommend writing every day. You need to build and condition your writing muscles. Failure to do so will cause atrophy. Stephen King, Danielle Steele, Dan Brown or JK Rowling, didn’t give up when they were told no. Instead, they continued to write and improved. Acknowledge the fact that your writing is imperfect. Make space imperfection and you will make space for improvement.
Edit your work over and over.
Unleashing your creative writing skills may feel awkward and difficult at first. When you work out the first time, your muscles don’t instantly get stronger and muscular. Creativity is a muscle that you have to exercise.