How does one become a skilled creative writer? This is an article which aims to explore outside the usual writing tips about technical ability, time management, vocabulary choices, etc. There are already thousands of articles and books, even classes on that subject matter.
Being creative comes naturally, for example, Frank Baum’s writings were based on what he dreamed. When we dream all the characters in the dream are created by our minds. It is said that each character in a dream is also a representation of the person dreaming. It is as if when we dream we are designing a storyline and are playing the roles of all personas involved. In this way, the skills required for creative writing can be likened to the subconscious dream-process of creating fictitious characters and being able to make up stories for them.
Anyone can dream, anyone can make up a story, however, getting in the zone, in touch with the imagination’s flow is easier for some than for others. One really should have a talent for it to start with, or else all the skills in the world will not help at all. Once you know for certain that you enjoy making up stories and can do so with the ability to intrigue and amuse others here are some actual skills to hone.
Have an idea, a seed that will grow its own story. Most writers start out with a main character then ask questions of themselves such as who are they, where are they, why are they here and what are they doing. The most important question is probably why. You can write down a series of settings and scenarios, but to be able to pin-point a motivation will be perhaps the driving force of your entire story, or at least as surrounds this particular character. If you are having multiple main characters you need to also define the relationships they have with each other, how does one affect the other.
Even those that do not actively pursue to write fiction will manage to create a story when making assumptions. If we see a person running down a road in clothing obviously not for jogging, let’s just say it is a man in a suit in this case, we will probably wonder is he late for an important appointment, or maybe he is having a flashback and running from a hallucination, or perhaps this is just a funny person that runs everywhere he goes. Each one of those imagined scenarios can be the start of a creative tale.
As I have already mentioned it is important to enjoy the process of creating stories, why self-satisfaction is important is due to the need to have patience, not everyone is going to accept your vision and want to read your imagined tales. Even if you do have a receptive audience, it also typically takes a long time to get to the point of making substantial sales. And if you are waiting for major publishers to pick up your work beyond the scope of self-publication, it is important that you still continue to keep at your art.
If you cannot produce a body of work in an ongoing sense, it will be harder to be taken seriously in your craft, by readers, your peers, reviewers and the like. You must have a love for what you do in order to persist; it is integral to being able to adapt to meet the needs of your readership. What if you are approached by a playwright that would like to have you develop a screenplay to bring your story to the stage audiences? In such a case, even with the aid of a professional at your side, you need to have the ability to stick to writing and re-writing and even learning to be flexible in collaborative efforts. It should come naturally for a creative person to think outside the box, however, a literary creation is very personal. How personal, well it is pulled from the imagination of the writer, their brainchild. This brings to mind another important skill to have as a creative writer, the ability to take criticism.
Everyone has opinions and sometimes we can learn from them and sometimes it is best to just move along. Being gracious is good manners and all, but what I want to underline here is the ability to not let it get you down or frustrate you to the point of letting it control your writing. If you get hung up on a bad comment it can create a writer’s block or a sore memory tied to a certain aspect of your work. It can even create paralyzing self-doubt. And if you love what you do, this will help you push past such negativity.