6 rules for creative writing and where to find them

Becoming an expert in creative writing takes time, practice, and patience. Creative writing includes novels, short stories and poetry, but it can also be used as a tool for self-knowledge.

This is the name of every type of writing that goes beyond professional, journalistic, academic and technical writing. Creative writing includes novels, short stories and poetry , but it can also be used as a tool for self-knowledge .

Writing creatively , in fact, requires a constant training of one’s imagination, as well as of the right hemisphere of the brain. There are several schools of creative writing in Italy – among the most famous are Scuola Holden, Belleville, Mohole, Treccani. But it is a very transversal discipline, and it can also be studied in the theater or in theater academies, such as the Teatro Stabile in Verona, the Theater Lighthouse in Milan (where I studied), the Mario Brusa Theater Academy in Turin.

Unlike what communication that revolves around creative writing tends to suggest, it is a very versatile activity that should not be seen only as a specialization for those who write or want to write for work. Creativity needs to be trained like a muscle, day after day, and writing is one of the many possible ways to do it.

What does creative writing mean:

  • knowing how to manage a large and rich vocabulary
  • know and know how to use different narrative styles
  • being able to transcribe emotions, sensations and moods
  • transform abstract concepts into concrete and understandable words
  • playing with grammar, prose and repetition
  • create a story, a tale, a poem, a poem, a manifesto
  • use the imagination to understand reality

But how is it done? How do you start writing creatively? In my decades of experience in the world of writing, I have identified 6 essential steps to follow in order to learn to write correctly, but above all freely. I’ll tell you about them here.

Creative writing how to get started: 6 tips for learning to write

Read without limits

A writer is first of all a reader. If we don’t read we get stuck in a one-sided worldview, we limit ourselves and we don’t allow ourselves to grow.

Reading books of all kinds, from novels to essays, but also magazines – of current affairs, design or culture – is essential for many reasons:

  • reading broadens your vocabulary
  • reading keeps the mind active
  • reading allows you to experience other stories beyond ours
  • reading excites
  • reading creates inspiration

My advice is to devour books of all kinds, origins, languages ​​and historical moments: ancient texts, for example, suggest writing styles and vocabulary that are different from contemporary ones. Therefore they can offer interesting insights, ideas and concepts that otherwise we would not be able to find. 

And reading something modern, on the other hand, makes us enter the age we are in, it helps us to better understand the generations who live it, how they behave and what they want. And where do we fit in?

Reading a lot and reading everything is the first rule for healthy and effective creative writing, and it doesn’t matter whether you want to become a successful author or not, because reading – as well as writing – is for everyone, and it’s a great gift.

Zen writing

It is also called free writing , or in coaching “morning pages” because written first as soon as you wake up. What is it about? Zen writing is a very ancient technique which consists in placing the pen on a sheet and making it flow, following the thought that arises naturally. It was used by Buddhist monks to let go of thoughts and worries, and to find inner peace. Today, many writers, actors and artists of all genres use Zen writing to make room for the creative flow .

Usually, to help yourself, a timer of 5-10-15-20 minutes is set, depending on the experience; or a number of pages (1-3-5) is chosen. In that limited time or space you write whatever passes through your mind: often at the beginning it is very difficult, and you can simply describe the objects that you see around, or even the phrase “I don’t know what to write”. Everything is valid, there are no rules other than this: you cannot remove the pen from the paper.

With the digital age it has become possible to carry out this powerful exercise with the keyboard of a PC, but experts suggest that we prefer the old pen and paper, because we perform a gesture that we did since childhood. Therefore the brain is activated more deeply and vividly.

Writing in a free or Zen way therefore helps to let go of all consciousness, worries, thoughts that remain on the surface. Free your head and let everything we have inside flow without us noticing it. We can do it every day for a few minutes, and this way of doing creative writing has long-term benefits : we feel less stressed and fatigued. Or we can use it if necessary like artists. Certainly writing Zen restores the mental balance necessary to create.

The change of point of view

Never stand still where we are. Never believe that what we see, hear, perceive is the unequivocal reality . If you want to know more about this concept, read the theory “the map is not the territory” here.

And what’s better not to get trapped in our limiting beliefs of changing point of view? Changing your point of view in writing means:

  • write as if you were another person you know
  • write identifying yourself with the thoughts of a famous person
  • imagine being a character you invented
  • writing putting yourself in the shoes of an animal
  • to write by putting yourself in the shoes of an object

Point-of-view exercises can be very fun and revealing. They are absolutely recommended because they help us to change perspective in a total and absolute way. This, when it happens, causes new ideas to blossom and creativity is reborn.

Useful for those who want to write a blog, a novel, a book. But also for those who simply feel limited in their vision of the world. Being in the shoes of someone who is not us is complex and challenging, and therefore useful and effective for growing.

Define the characters

When we write we inevitably talk about characters: ourselves, someone we know, someone we would like to know… It doesn’t just happen in the greatest novels, but also between the pages of an intimate and personal diary. For this reason, giving your characters a voice is good and right.

Get to know them closely, come into deep contact with each of them, feel their emotions and thoughts. Don’t just briefly describe them. Characters – all characters – are the means by which the author lives in his writing. Consciously or not.

Among the most important creative writing tips is to make an identikit of your characters, before inserting them into the story. 

Build a solid foundation

As if your story were a palace: build a solid foundation for it, first of all. Give it a precise structure , define what you want to say when, how and why – before you write it down.

The structure of any story – whether it’s a social post , a blog or newspaper article , a chapter in a book – has:

  • an incipit
  • a development
  • a cocclusion

The incipit is a beginning, a hook that must intrigue the reader, keep him on the page. Therefore, here the most important information and words will be inserted that allow the meaning of the story to shine through, without revealing it completely. The opening words must always be captivating.

By development we mean the development of the story. Here go the insights, the details. It is usually the longest part, but be careful: especially if it is a text with a social media destination, let’s remember the summary.

Conclusion: that is the moral of the story. Just like in the structures of fairy tales, the narration ends by summing up, making a point of the situation. The reader has to take home a lesson, an extra piece. What have I learned from this story?

When any text has this structure, as defined as possible, then writing it in detail becomes easier and faster. Note: this technique is also used by journalists for reporting.

Don’t underestimate the power of editing

Editing. Edit. Reread and edit. It is the last step of creative writing, and of writing in general. Once we have our thoughts flowing, then created the structure and made a draft, it is time to edit it. That is, review each transcribed word, phrase and concept from start to finish, and decide whether they work as they are or need to be adjusted.

What to do in editing:

  • check grammar and syntax
  • make sure each sentence follows a logical meaning (logical analysis)
  • change nouns, adjectives and verbs with synonyms, when necessary
  • double-check the information that must be correct and proven (always use reliable sources)
  • give a final and almost magical touch to your story, if relevant, and use words or phrases that have impressed you in other texts and contexts
  • in short, it transforms what you have written into a refined product ready to be published, sold, read – whatever it is

Among my services as a coach, journalist and communication expert, I offer creative writing paths that serve precisely to accompany people on a journey within themselves through creative writing. These are courses of 5 (renewable) meetings suitable both for those who love to write and would like to make it become something more than a passion, and for those who are intrigued by writing but have never used it as a tool.

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