I was a bit skeptical in the beginning. I wanted to become a writer! So it made sense for me to take up a bachelors course in Fine arts and pursue my writing career. Intuition drives my art, whatever it is I do – Music, Poetry, writing; I just let my muse do the work. So, it made sense for me to wonder about how a degree in literature could ever help me in writing, and I was thinking about this Calvin and Hobbes comic I once came across – But I was proved wrong!
I did however had a knack for Electronics, Robotics and Computers since I was a kid, building DIY robots in my spare time, and I went on to do a Bachelors in Electronics. But I had to come back to honing my writing skills sooner rather than later. This just happened during the vacations of my previous semester when I gathered some courage and looked up colleges offering free creative writing courses online!
So here’s what I did to step up my writing abilities – I signed up for a few of those courses including Start writing fiction, Essay writing from MIT (it helped me win a persuasive essay competition!), Writing and reading short stories from MIT, Introduction to Novel writing at Falmouth college and The writing process from Purdue University. Apart from these courses, I bought myself Writers’ Digest The complete handbook of Novel Writing.
I completed all of these over a course of time and you can see from it that I was honing my writing skills to become a published author some day. These courses helped me write a few short stories and two complete full-length novel manuscripts within a few months time, and it is not bad for a first time author, I guess!
10 Things Creative Writing can teach you about Blogging Better
Blogging is no different to writing, shelling out words that engage your audience while keeping the central zest of your topic is what both of them are all about. So, here I am sharing a few things Creative writing can teach you about blogging better!
1. Think before you speak. Read before you think.
Given that I was a great admirer of written words, I never quite had the problem with reading. I grew up reading almost everything that I got my hands on, so it was never a problem for me. But for writing and blogging better, you need to read, and then read some more. Just like Stephen King puts it:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Reading different authors from various genres, for writers; and reading different bloggers from various niches, for bloggers is the way forward to develop your writing skills.
2. Write daily, for the rest of your life
You get better by repeatedly doing what you want to do. The writing just improves by writing more. The writing exercises included in these creative writing courses pushed me to limits where all I did the whole day was tapping away words on my keyboard!
I even took an expensive-but-worthwhile course in Mastering piano by Grammy award winning pianist Will Barrow and he always insisted on practicing the instrument for 15 minutes of each day, instead of playing away 5 hours in a row, once a week. Now, that writing has become a part of my life, I can’t go by a day without written something.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
3. Good Grammar Manners
Now, you might go ahead and argue that there is no need of understanding the basics of grammar for blogging, but good structured writing implies good blog. No one would want to read a sage who can’t put his words properly! All the efforts you put on information gathering for your blog posts would be a waste if you don’t structure your content properly.
It is very rare that a great piece of writing gets away from criticisms for its bad grammar. Stephen King criticized the best-selling authors of ‘Fifty shades of Grey’, ‘Twilight’ and ‘Hunger’ games for their authors’ writing abilities. I myself came across a few grammatical structure errors in a few of those books, and it just a turn-off for avid readers.
That doesn’t imply you have to write like a Shakespeare or Robert Frost poem, just don’t lose out the interest of your valuable blog readers with pithy grammatical mistakes.
4. Collecting the right tools
You can’t go around making excuses for not writing if you want to write better. Tools and resources are a great way to get your creative juices flowing. There are tons of resources for every form of writer or blogger that you want to be. Some just like scribbling in their notebooks, some like sticky notes while others keep note cards to jot down moments of ideas!
Ideas for stories or blog posts can be manipulated if they aren’t occurring naturally to you, with a few tools. For me, I just sit down at my desk, I become like the iron rod that attracts magnet fillings – Ideas come! But when there are moments of darkness, make sure you have a ready set of tools and resources to drive you out of it. These are – A few magazine and newspaper subscriptions, a few writing blog subscriptions like Jeff Goins Writer, Jane Friedman and The Creative Penn.
Having a blogging mentor for your blogging journey is a great way forward!
5. Developing a writing process
Every writer, no matter of what form makes use of a writing process that only works for himself. This writing process is one’s own groove and might not fit the bill for someone else. You can only find your groove by playing around with different things and seeing what brings the best out of you.
For me, I do all of my writings in the early morning, waking a tad early to 5 A.M. That is the time I am the most active and I love my share of solitude then. Although they say what works for one might not work for other, I found the advice of Ernest Hemingway to suit me. I also write before I go to bed, so I don’t write till I run out of ideas, instead I stop where I know what will happen next, so I don’t have to face writer’s block the next morning.
A writing process differs for different forms of writing. All you need is to find it, and I found mine after trying different iterations, until I stuck on the one that was the right fit for me.
6. Writing catchphrases and titles
If you are to create memorable characters, catchphrases are a must, although you shouldn’t overdo them. Similarly, for bloggers, catchy headlines are a good starting place. Engaging your audience with catchy headlines and book titles is a must for writers of different forms.
A great blog post dressed in average headline won’t get more readers to your articles. Creative writing exercises will help you harness the power of catchphrases for memorable characters, book titles for authors, headlines for blog posts and abstract titles for poetry.
Magazines make the most of these type of writings to catch the attention of readers by making their cover titles catchy. Newspapers use them to grab the attention of users and bloggers use them to gather views, likes and to generate buzz.
7. Write Drunk, Edit sober
That doesn’t imply you have to get high every time you had to type a page-length of article! However some form of addiction sure does the thing, for me it is water (Yes, an aquaholic!) – Its very rare that you find a creative soul sane! All that Earnest meant was to write what you feel, and later do thorough scrutinizing during editing. Editing or proofreading is the most important part of a writer’s job.
Cutting down the unnecessary chunks of words that are a burden on the reader is the primary objective of a writer while editing his work. While editing you have to ask yourself – Is this absolutely necessary? and chop off everything else without pity! As Dr.Seuss puts it,
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
Pulling the plug on typos, grammatical errors and sentence structuring mistakes is what is needed to be done while editing and proofreading.
8. Connecting with your readers
Writing is after all about telling stories to people with whom they can relate to. A writer has done his job if his article or story captures the essence of life and puts it in front of the reader who can relate it to themselves! If your readers can’t catch up with relating themselves to your writing, you are probably going wrong somewhere.
As Ernest Hemingway puts it:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
If you can invoke feelings into your readers, you are successful as a writer. Make your audience weep, laugh, cry, angst, anxious and give them a sense of anticipation with your writings!
9. Experiment with different forms of writing
Writing comes in different forms and shapes. There are Short short stories, Short stories, Novellas, Fiction, Flash and fan fiction, non-fiction, poetry, blog posts, etc. So, this shows that vast varieties of writing exist for specific message to be spread across. Know what is the story that you want to speak to the world and find the category that best fits your needs.
You can only get better at writing by finding your groove, find what you write the best. A great short story writer might fail at a full length novel and vice-versa. Experiment with different types of writing to get a better understanding of what best suits your needs.
10. Have fun. Cultivate creativity
If you never write, you’ll never know. I write so that I can read my thoughts, I have a pretty complex thought process and I don’t remember until I write them down. So the writing began. You’ll also come to know if writing’s really for you.
Writing is a creative process and making yourself enjoy the process is more than important. Writing for all the other wrong reasons like money, fame and success won’t get you anywhere far! Cultivate creativity by taking a notebook and pen and going out in the woods, sitting alone, let your brain process your thoughts and write them down. A journal is a great companion for a writer and see that you make the most of this tool! I create my characters as sketches in my journal, so I don’t have to remember the way they look and behave while I continue writing.
So, you get the point of it, cultivate creativity by writing and trying out different exercises to settle on the one that fits you!
That was all about my journey of creative writing. What about you? How do you like writing as a blogger? Shout out your thoughts and comments below.