Though creative writing might seem like a vague, nebulous term that encompasses a wide range of work, it is also an outlet for emotion and a way for writers to pass along the truths they’ve learned to others. Authors become more aware of their own thoughts and identities through the process of creative writing, as it fosters imagination, expression, and analysis. For students, creative writing is a powerful way to explore their own thoughts in a safe space.
Parents, teachers, and adults who encourage students to write creatively are often surprised by the impact writing can have on a child’s life. Even if your student doesn’t grow up to write the next great American novel, he or she will have learned how to express ideas in a clear and creative way. These important skills can be applied to any aspect of a child’s life.
6 Tips for Creative Writing
Share these six creative writing tips with your students to help them get started. Though it might be hard initially to switch from academic writing to creative writing, these practices can help students fall in love with writing as a mode of artistic expression.
Creative Writing Tip #1. Write about anything and everything
No topics are off-limits in creative writing, so encourage your students to write about anything and everything. Ask students to carry around small notebooks for several days and to write down interesting things they hear and see. These observations and ideas can later be transformed into short stories, poems or personal reflections. The notebook also provides great resource material when a student feels like he or she has developed writer’s block. Help students see that any mundane event has the potential to become an interesting story if it is told in a creative way.
Tip #2. Set small goals
Students are often intimidated by the idea of creative writing, as they feel pressured to write something long or a complete work. Instead, have them begin by writing a series of short pieces. Poems, song lyrics and short stories are a great way to get creative juices flowing. As students begin to accomplish several of these smaller goals, they’ll feel inspired to continue writing and to eventually tackle larger projects.
Tip #3. Write regularly
Like many things, creative writing requires regular practice to master. Students will feel more comfortable writing when they’ve gotten into the habit of doing it each day. Have your students write at different times of the day to figure out when they feel the most creative. Some students will do better in the mornings when their minds are fresh, while others might feel more inspired after spending time with others throughout the day. After you’ve figured out when your students do their best writing, allow them to work at the same time each day. A consistent workout for their creative muscles helps them to sharpen their skills over time.
Tip #4. Write first, edit later
Many students have trouble getting into a creative flow because they worry about the quality of their writing. Encourage them to write first and edit later. Editing while writing disrupts the flow of creativity and causes students to lose important thoughts. Initially, the most important thing is simply to put the words on the page. After students have written, they can go back and refine their work.
Tip #5. Focus on the feelings
Because creative writing is all about expression, it’s important for students to focus on making their readers feel something. Creative writing does many things, but it should (hopefully!) invoke some powerful emotions and reactions from readers. While this might be a lofty goal to tackle up front, it’s an important destination to guide your students toward.
One suggestion is to go through the writing together and pick out the parts where descriptive words and potent verbs powerfully demonstrate to the reader what’s happening in the story. Then repeat the process again, this time with the intention to improve on those areas where descriptive words and potent verbs are missing. Doing so will undoubtedly improve a student’s writing ability to evoke emotion from their readers.
Tip #6. Enjoy your writing
Finally, make sure that students enjoy the process of creative writing! While the process might sometimes require commitment and deep thought, creative writing can be an immensely valuable and rewarding activity. If students feel pressured to create, it might be time to step back and work on something smaller. Ultimately, creative writing should be an opportunity to let loose and indulge in possibility!