Six More Creative Tips to Revitalise Your Writing

 

New and experienced writers can sometimes find themselves struggling to brainstorm new narratives. Our ideas pool looks like it’s all fished out and our once helpful creative muse has left the building. But never despair, when you’re faced with writer’s block and that blank computer screen seems to mock your inability to create, here are six creative tips to revitalise your writing and get you back into storytelling mode.

No. 1. Flash, Nano or Micro Fiction.

Specific word choice and brevity is important for a creative writer. Making each word count and telling a story well in the best possible way can distinguish a good writer from a great one. Writing to a particular word count can help you streamline your writing skills and can kick-start a lot of creative story ideas.

Flex your creative muscles by trying the Ernest Hemingway challenge: Write a Story in Six Words, or in 100 words. I like this style of writing mainly because it stimulates the creative side of the brain, therefore allowing new ideas to be born. A longer narrative can be born out of a Flash/Nano or Micro tale, so be brave and take up a Micro Fiction challenge.

No. 2. Re-write a Folk or Fairy Tale.

With so many folk and fairy tales out there you are sure to find one that is desperately in need of a re-write or refresh. Many of the female roles like the passive princess can be changed to a butt-kicking no nonsense princess. You can also change the story into a modern day setting with 21st century socio-cultural and political themes. Check out my version of the Rapunzel tale, The Tale of Ruthie and Grace in my free eBook, Exploring the Narrative World: Writing the Short Story

No. 3. Choose a Short Story and Write It Into a Short or Feature Film.

This is a great exercise for writers. The short story ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ was written by James Thurber in 1939 and was remade into a blockbuster film with Ben Stiller in 2013. The task of choosing key settings, events and characters from a work of fiction is performed by many successful Hollywood screenwriters. So why not take one of your favourite short stories or Google one and try transforming the narrative into a short or feature film.

No. 4. Interview a Parent/Grandparent and Write a Story Based on their Experiences.

Parents and grandparents have so many interesting life stories that are just waiting to be crafted into a story that can impact the world. The saying ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ can make for a compelling tale even more so that a purely fictional tale. This storytelling exercise can also benefit a lonely elderly person in a nursing home or retirement village. Once you have interviewed your willing participant, and have written the story, you can print it out and give to your real-life hero or heroine as a gift.

No. 5. Pick Five Everyday Items and Write a Short Narrative. (Give them human-like qualities. Describe them as if they were alive, and had feelings. Or choose one of your family pets and create a story around them.)

This exercise was originally a poetry exercise but it can also be used in narrative fiction. You can start by writing a short narrative about how the item, like a mobile phone, has human qualities and would feel about having to constantly supply on demand unlimited information.

Here is an example of an everyday item that has been endowed with human qualities.

A Mobile/Cellphone.

Her bright exuberant face tantalises me with the happy expectations of friends and unlimited social invites, none of which I am invited to.  As a solitary observer of the many delights and distresses of her daily existence, I am a constant companion, but I am no more than an expert supplier for her excessive demands for sometimes useless and unnecessary information.

My revenge upon this fanatical digital ogre who relentlessly taps away at my delicate silver skin is my shrill shrieks and incessant clanging when she would rather be snoozing. I am an electronic prosthesis that is also an extension of her inner life.  As she sleeps, I dream of an immanent future where I will have the power to invade her innermost being and control her body, soul and spirit.

No. 6. Write a Story with One Character or Write a Story without a Character. 

Although this type of creative exercise can narrow the boundaries of the storytelling world, it is a favourite with some writers.  

Write a story with the main character as the omniscient narrator/focaliser. Many non-fiction narratives use this style. Boris Glikman uses this technique a lot. Many of his short stories take on a metaphysical or philosophical outlook on life. You can view some of his stories in the Unearthed Fiction magazine.

I hope you find these six creative tips to revitalise your writing helpful. 

Happy writing!

 

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How to Write a Personal Essay

When I first started at university, one of the first assessments that I had to complete was to write a personal essay. I was familiar with the skills of writing an academic essay, but a personal essay had me mystified. I wondered, is it possible for the words ‘personal’ and ‘essay’ to belong together? The idea of a personal essay sounded more like an oxymoron than a creative writing structure that is affiliated with academia. But I was soon introduced to the academically-freeing and creatively liberating personal essay. Here are some tips on how to write a personal essay that will captivate your reader.

Writing a personal essay is an art form that many writers over the decades have embraced as a professional tool for personal exploration. A personal essay can be based on any topic and allows the reader intimate access into the author’s life experiences, observations and personal opinions. Some examples of personal essays by famous authors are: Why I Write by George Orwell, Professions for Women by Virginia Woolf.

A personal essay allows an author to explore a range of issues that are unique to the human condition and to try to make sense of the mysterious complexities of life. Writing a personal essay can be personally liberating for both the author and the reader.

The personal essay differs from an academic essay in a number of ways:

The Personal Essay.                                                                                             

  • Uses a subjective/informal tone (using ‘I’ first person narration).                 
  • Can contain elements of fiction – imagery, character, or point of view. (Although the personal essay is about exploring some concept or offering some fresh insight into an experience, using elements of fiction can create interest in your essay and keep your reader engaged).
  • Contains the author’s personal opinions that support the main topic.      
  • Can contain quotes and research.

The Academic Essay.

  • Uses an objective/ formal tone.
  • Contains facts/information/argument.
  • Contains qualitative and quantitative data that is supported by scholarly research and scholarly quotes.         

The overall objectives of the personal essay:

Aimed at a general audience as opposed to a specialist scholarly reader.

Allows the author to share and explore their personal opinions and private experiences.

Can be based on research which is necessary to support the main idea.

Offers knowledge on a particular subject in a general manner.

Offers a unique perspective on an idea or event.

Challenge social perceptions of a previously accepted idea or offer a controversial viewpoint.

Use a variety of tone – humorous, sarcastic or confessional.

One of my favourite personal essays is The Ambition of the Short Story by Steven Millhauser.

Overall, a personal essay can offer you an opportunity to explore and develop your unique literary voice and writing style. Whether you choose to a write a confessional or explorative style personal essay, this form of creative writing can be liberating and cathartic, and it can carry great significance for your reader.

 

Creative Task.

Write your own personal essay.

Step One.  Read one of the personal essays provided via the links above.

Step Two. Choose a topic that you would like to discuss or explore.

Step Three. Write a personal essay on your chosen topic or use the essay question provided below.

Look at my bookshelf! These are the books I read. To what extent can literature have an influence on or effect people’s lives? Discuss and explore.

 

Happy Writing.

 

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