Friday, December 07, 2007

Are You Limiting Your Writing Creativity?

Creative Writing Secrets - 7 Ways You Limit Your Creative Writing Potential Without Even Knowing It
By Dan Goodwin

All of us have an ocean of creative writing potential waiting to be discovered. But having the potential to do something, and actually DOING it, are a world apart.

There are many reasons why we don't write as deeply, as freely and as consistently as we're capable of. So here are 7 of the most common ways you may be limiting YOUR creative writing potential without even knowing it, and what you can do to turn them around:

1. You don't capture your new ideas. A major complaint of creative writers is they don't have enough good ideas. Having the ideas though is not the issue. How many times have you had a great idea appear in your head at the most unlikely moment and thought: "wow, what an interesting idea, I could really develop this into something..." and then forgotten it as quickly as it appeared?

Capture your ideas as soon as they come to you, using a small notebook. Carry it with you wherever you go, and you'll soon realise not only how many ideas you've been having and just not noting them down, but you'll also see that the more ideas you do capture, the more ideas appear to fill their place.

2. You don't write everyday. Creating each and everyday is one of the fundamental building blocks of a consistent creative life. When you say you'll create "when you have time", guess what happens? Yep, you never seem to have time, and so you never write much.

Sit down and write for a minimum of 15 minutes each and every day at the same time each day. The power of this habit has so many benefits, not least of which that you give your creative mind a regular space and a place to, well, create!

3. You don't seek out inspiration. If your daily routine involves seeing exactly the same surroundings and few places, and you never go anywhere different or try any new experiences, you're writing will be similarly monotone and limited.

Keep your inspiration topped up by regularly making time for yourself to visit new places, see things you've always wanted to see, and absorb a little more culture and nature. The change in surroundings will stimulate your senses, which in turn feeds your creative mind with new ideas and inspiration.

4. You don't believe you're creative. Although on the surface you might think you have strong beliefs in your creative ability, often just below the surface a whole gaggle of limiting beliefs are conspiring to hold you back without you realising.

Honestly question what you REALLY believe about your creativity. Write out a few positive statements like "I believe I am a creative writer" and "I have an unlimited potential for new ideas" and notice your instinctive reaction to these statements. If they feel uncomfortable or untrue, it's time to work on making your underlying beliefs more positive.

5. You don't have a place to create. We all need somewhere to create, a place where we feel comfortable and can get into our writing without major distraction. Without this kind of space, we'll never get into any kind of flow with our writing.

Make a space that's just yours for writing. It might be a whole room, it might simply be a cosy chair in the corner of a room. But make it special to you, personalise it, do all you can to give yourself the best chance of writing as freely as possible when you come here to write.

6. You don't set any creative goals. Before your run away screaming at the word "goals", claiming an artist can't possibly be tied down with such limiting concepts, think about this: A goal doesn't need to be complex, rigid and suffocating. A goal is just something you'd like to do, with a date when you like to do it.

By setting goals as clear and simple as: "This Sunday, beginning at 10am I'm going to spend at least 2 hours on writing my new short story" you'll get SO MUCH MORE done than if you just say "I might try to fit in a bit of work on my short story sometime this weekend"... Try setting a few goals - it works!

7. You don't acknowledge your progress. Because you live with yourself day in, day out, it's very difficult to objectively view how much you're developing as a writer. Which means most of the time it feels like you're writing exactly the same stuff you were writing 5 years ago or that you hardly write very much at all.

By taking the time to review how you're evolving - every 3 or 6 months is a good period of time - you can gain huge confidence from realising not only that your writing style has developed, but that actually you've also written far more than you thought you had.

These are 7 of the most common reasons why you're not writing to your creative potential. Which do you most relate to?

Which one area can you choose to work on from today, to start unleashing more of that creative writing talent within you that's bursting to get out?

And you can get your creative writing kick started again right away with the FREE 5 part creative writing ecourse at http://www.YouAreACreativeWriter.Com

From Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin

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Start Your Writing with a Creative Bang!

There are exceptions to almost every rule, so take any advice with the proverbial grain of salt. For instance, some of the greatest writers in history have started books with dialogue or description. However, unless you have excellent skills in description or dialogue, you should probably think twice before building your whole book on that foundation. I found Ms. Zimmitti's advice excellent on most counts, and hope you will, too.

Hook Your Reader from the First Sentence - How to Write Great Beginnings

By Lucia Zimmitti

Let's face it: when you send your writing off in the hopes it will be published, every word is important. You wouldn't give yourself permission to get sloppy after page 37, assuming the editor can handle choppy prose or "inventive" spelling if she made it that far. But what you may not realize is that the beginning of your manuscript is by far the most important part because it will encourage an editor to read on or to toss the whole thing aside. After all, you may have crafted an admirable middle or a breathtaking ending, but no one will get there if your beginning is mediocre.

Despite the fact that more books are being published than ever before, the publishing world is more competitive than ever before. Agents and editors are inundated with staggering heaps of unsolicited manuscripts, and it is physically impossible for them to plow through -- in their entirety -- every one. The beginning is the only chance you have to make the right impression.

Face it, unless you have to, how often do you push through a book when you're under-whelmed by the beginning?

Which brings us to some rules for great beginnings. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but often those exceptions are only successful in the hands of experienced writers or those with multi-book deals. For the typical writer, it pays to heed what the current market demands.

Make your beginning shine:

~Start with action.

"Action" doesn't necessarily mean a fist fight or an explosion or a sky-dive gone awry. Action means starting your book or story at a compelling place, with a scene, with something at stake for your characters. Look closely and you may find that you have pages of material that shouldn't start your book. They may fill in some important blanks for readers, but those pages of backstory can safely be moved to a spot in chapter two or later (or, better yet, spread out in smaller chunks throughout the work).

Don't start your story with history -- start it with a riveting now that grabs the reader by the collar and doesn't let him/her turn away.

~Never put dialogue or straight description in your opening lines.

To clarify: Dialogue is fine in the first scene. Actually, many experts agree that first scenes without dialogue don't achieve their potential. This is because the most compelling reading material involves tension between people, and people usually talk to each other. However, if your very first lines are dialogue, it's impossible for the reader to understand who is speaking right off the bat (or why s/he as a reader should care), since the reader hasn't had any history with the characters.

Similarly, description right up front will not pull your reader into the story. Not because it confuses or disorients them like dialogue does, but because static description can be dull and plodding and doesn't tell the reader anything about the story (the action, the story problem) itself. If the setting is somehow crucial to your first scene and you feel you must start there, limit it to one or two sentences and then get right into the meat of the scene. There will be time for description later.

~Make sure your writing is accessible and engaging.

Your beginning is not the place to try out some experimental stylistic device or to stump your readers with a puzzle. You want to make your readers think, but you don't want them to feel stupid or say, "Huh?" If the reader feels frustrated and confused right away, you can bet they won't sign up for 300 more pages of it.

~Set up the story promise.

You've seen shoppers at bookstores. They scan the bookflap for a description, and, if that intrigues them, they'll flip to page one and skim the opening to see if it's the kind of book they want to read. Immediately make it clear what kind of story yours is. Don't start with a knock-knock joke if it's an essay about a serious subject. (Although there's room for humor in almost any piece, it must be appropriately woven into the work and not tacked onto the wrong place. But that's a subject for another article.) Don't start with the point of view of a character you're planning to kill off by page three. You get the idea.

Readers like surprise -- they don't like to feel disoriented.

~Always remember that boredom kills readership.

If you're bored when you write the opening, if you fall asleep at your desk when you reread it, and if trusted readers can't stop yawning when they review it, what makes you think strangers you send it to will be riveted by it? Readers have more choices than ever before (in print and online), and they will not stick with you past a few dozen words if they're bored. Make sure your beginning glues your readers to the page, wide awake and eager for more.

To discover more ways to give your writing the best odds in a highly competitive market, visit and sign up for "Write Through It," a free, monthly e-newsletter that offers tips on writing more clearly and effectively.

Lucia Zimmitti, a writing coach and independent editor, is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Editorial Freelancers Association. Her fiction and poetry have been published in various national literary journals, and she has taught writing at the high school and college levels.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Creative Writing Vocabulary: Prose vs. Poetry

This is a handy, if simplistic distinction between poetry and prose. Even if you don't consider yourself a poet, you should still consider learning poetic techniques for use in prose. I think I've mentioned before that a good knowledge of poetry and poetic devices can spice up your prose. If nothing else, it's a great creative writing exercise to try to write the different poetic forms.

Prose vs. Poetry
by: Terry J. Coyier

Prose - a simple word that confuses so many people. What is it exactly? According to

1.the ordinary form of spoken or written language, without metrical structure, as distinguished from poetry or verse.

2.matter-of-fact, commonplace, or dull expression, quality, discourse, etc.

Prose encompasses most of the writing and speaking we engage in today, including what I am writing here. It is everything from novels to blog entries to television/films and everything in between. Prose is simply a fancy literary term used to separate general writing from poetry or verse. (Though, just to confuse you, we do have prose poetry, the halibun and free verse which can muddy any clear distinction.) Prose is typically written in plain language, follows the standard rules of grammar and punctuation and is arranged in paragraphs. It often reflects ordinary speech patterns. In fiction, writers do develop different styles of writing and employ various techniques to add interest for readers, but the writing is still considered prose.

Now that you understand a little about prose, let’s discuss poetry. Most people recognize poetry if they see a traditional poem. For instance, writing that has lines similar in length (each starting with a capital letter, of course), is arranged in stanzas, and has rhyme at the end of the lines. Most of us were taught about this type of poetry around the third or fourth grade. But poetry is so much more complex and varied than that simple example. In fact, those few things don’t necessarily define poetry at all.

Poetry is much more than just a few basics such as the form in which it is written, some general meter and rhyme. Modern poetry often deviates from traditional poetic form and rules. Poetry presentation has, once again, become somewhat artistic for some poets who write in everything from couplets to verse paragraphs. These lines can also be arranged on a page to enhance the visual appeal of the poem (as in shape poems), to aid in the rhythm of the poem (adding space between words to create longer pauses while reading aloud, for instance) or to add to the meaning or irony of a poem by causing words to appear in specific places. Standard punctuation and capitalization practices are falling by the wayside, as well, for many contemporary poets.

This still has little to do with poetry itself. So, how do we define poetry? I think Iowan, Paul Engle, had the right idea with is explanation: “Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.” That, to me, is what poetry is, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t break it down somewhat. I am not providing definitions, they are easy enough to come by.

Basic Poetic Devices


A quick internet search will provide you with reading material on each of these devices. Some are easier to hone than others, but all are useful if you wish to write interesting poetry verses writing simple poems.

Hopefully the lines between prose and poetry are now a bit clearer than before. Sometime in the future, I will have to address those other pesky fellows I mentioned that muddy the waters between the two. For now, whether you chose to write prose or poetry or both, I wish you the utmost success.

About The Author

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about a variety of topics. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Terry is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers.