It happens every time without fail. You are sitting in your English class minding your own business when all of the sudden your teacher gives you a writing assignment. You start to panic. I have to write something? Isn’t English just one big spelling bee? Why can’t we just work on grammar exercises? Questions like these start to shoot through your mind like stray asteroids through outer space.
But after a while your panic level goes down. After all, it’s not like you’ll have to think about what to write. The teacher more than likely will give you a topic to go off of. So you start to calm down. But then the unthinkable happens. With an evil grin on their face your teacher mutters the dreaded words, “Choose your own topic” and you feel your blood freeze.
You start to panic again. What am I going to write about? It has to be HOW MANY pages long? Why couldn’t I have just stayed home sick today? Questions like these race through your mind as the teacher passes out the rubric for your creative writing assignment. As your teacher draws closer to your seat, you sink down in your chair, hoping that by some miracle the teacher will not notice you are there. But it’s no use.
After raising an eyebrow, your teacher places the rubric on your desk and moves on to the next row of desks behind you. You stare at the rubric with a blank expression on your face. Feeling quite sick to your stomach you ask yourself how you are you going to get out of this sticky situation.
Fortunately, there are seven rules of creative writing that can give you the tools to work through any type of writer’s block.
Rule Number One: Keep your hand moving
Even if you are not sure what to write about, keep your hand moving on the paper (or fingers typing on the keyboard.) This helps get the creative juices flowing. Start out by picking a random topic and go from there. You’d be surprised where your mind a little bit of effort can take you. If you are stuck on what topic to choose, start by writing about something simple like your day or your friends and family. After a while you will have enough material to start writing a story with. Remember that no idea is bad. The point of creative writing is to capture an original idea in a way that no one has thought of doing before. So keep your hand moving and let the words flow.
Rule Number Two: Use control
Be sure to keep the words you are writing on your paper organized so that you can understand what you wrote when you visit your computer to make a final copy of your work in your personal word processing program. When writing it also helps to make charts or trees about the subjects you are focusing in your specific pieces. Even when I am writing my fantasy novel series, I make relationship charts and make extensive notes to myself about the characters, kingdoms and other details of the book series that are relevant to the plot. When writing essays it helps to write your subject down and list everything you know about it prior to doing research underneath. This gives you organization and some tools to help your paper later on when you are comparing and contrasting the subject being discussed. Remember that organization is the key to being a successful writer.
Rule Number Three: Be specific
When you are writing down ideas for your piece of writing be sure to put as much details about what you are trying to say on the paper. So many times emerging writers have a great idea but they leave vague notes for themselves. When they go back to write their paper they find that they cannot understand the notes they took and the inspiration goes right out the door, along with all of the time and hard work they put into the piece. If you can remember to take good notes and keep good records of all of your ideas, writing your idea down on paper will be a piece of cake. It’s ok to make notes of your notes as well. Often times when I get an idea I will write quick notes and then write more specific notes underneath.
This helps me understand the direction that I want to take my piece of writing in and prevents me from having a case of “what-was-it-I-tried-to-write-itis.” When you come around to writing your paper, take your notes and describe the things in your story/ essay with great detail. Don’t leave the audience guessing at what you were trying to say; describe things in a way that everyone will understand what you are trying to get at. A successful writer writes in layman’s terms. Never assume your audience is all knowing; always talk to them like they do not know what is going on. Even if it’s as simple of a topic as bubble gum, be specific and don’t leave any details out! So remember; take good notes and when you write your paper be specific so your target audience knows what you are talking about!
Rule Number Four: Don’t think
One of the biggest errors that emerging authors make is that they get hung up on one topic which prevents them from progressing further in their piece of writing. If you get hung up on one specific area in your piece, inspiration will surely pass you by. Therefore, keep your hands moving. Even if the sentence or paragraph you write down doesn’t make any sense at all at least you have some material to edit and work with later on down the road. One way to get around writers block is to write down a list of things you want to include in your piece of writing and elaborate on each one. While this is not writing the actual story it keeps your hand moving and gives you inspiration so that when you write your final piece you will have lots of things to write about. Over thinking your piece of writing will only lead you down a road of confusion (and give you a headache) so remember; open your mind and let the words flow!
Rule Number Five: Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar
When you are writing down ideas for your rough draft, do not be a grammar Nazi!! If you get hung up on dotting I’s, placing apostrophes in the correct places and capitalizing certain words your inspiration will go right out the door. Therefore focus on the ideas you have and write them down before they pass you by! When you type your final piece in a word processing program you can run a spell check and do the editing then. You can even have a friend or family member look over your piece of writing to make sure all of the “kinks” are worked out of it. Until then, focus on the idea and heart of your piece of writing. A successful writer is one that is not afraid to spell a few words wrong for the overall integrity of their piece. Remember this and you will succeed in any writing goal you get out to accomplish.
Rule Number Six: You are free to write the worse junk in America (or any other country)
As a writer, you have the right to write the lousiest stuff around; just as long as you think it’s good. Don’t let anyone discourage your writing style; own it and work on making it the best style you can. This is not to say that you can’t take constructive criticism. One of the best ways to grow as a writer is to have people review your pieces and take suggestions on how to improve your story telling style or write more in depth. However if anyone ever tells you that you will never go anywhere with your writing just because you wrote something they don’t agree with, I say ignore them, and ignore them good! ANYONE can be a successful writer if they put their mind to it. Work hard and you can be all that you can be. So remember; write on! Don’t let anyone discourage you from meeting your writing goals! (Or deadlines.)
Rule Number Seven: Go for the jugular
When you are writing a piece of writing, go for the jugular! You might be asking yourself; what does that mean? Well, it simply means to take your topic or idea and write it in a way that it has pizazz and stands out. No one wants to read a boring history report. Jazz it up with little known facts about the time period! You can even draw pictures to aid you in your story telling. The important thing is that you keep your audience interested in your piece of writing. If you lose their attention in the first paragraph then your whole story is lost. Therefore, pull them in from the very first sentence and don’t let them go until you are done. Always leave the audience wanting more. If you can achieve this goal than you will be an excellent writer.
I hope that these seven rules will help you with your next piece of writing. Just remember; even if a writing project seems huge and out of reach you can tackle it by breaking it into pieces and taking on those small mini-tasks one at a time.