You’re reading Here, Try This – our month-long plan encouraging you to try something new every day.
Writing, as an art form, is great for our wellbeing. Being able to express your thoughts and feelings on paper – whether writing a diary, or developing a story – has been proven to help you organise your thoughts.
But have you ever thought about writing more creatively about your life? Whether that be a novel, a non-fiction book, a script, a poem, a play – or just playing with words – it’s totally possible to get creative even if you haven’t tried it before.
If you’re wondering how to get started, we sought advice from experts at the Faber Academy, who specialise in writing courses. All you need to do is put pen to paper to get started – and see where your imagination takes you.
1. Don’t try and ‘force’ creativity
Scheduling in “writing time” can be well-intentioned, but the forced feel to it might take away creativity. Try being more flexible as to when you write, allowing ideas to come to you at your own pace.
“Let ideas come naturally – if you force them, they will elude you,” says Richard Skinner, author, tutor and director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy. “The best ones are those that are received rather than sought. Be patient, remain empty.
“Read as much as you can, letting it feed into your work. Keep the courage of your convictions and, when you have a good gut feeling about something, go for it!”
2. Don’t worry about finding one destination to write in
The above leads quite nicely onto this: “Don’t feel you need to be in a particular place to write,” advises Nicci Cloke, from the Academy.
“Get in the habit of carrying a notebook, or jotting things down on your phone. Often the most interesting [stories] come when you’re least expecting them.”
There’s no need for “the perfect writing shed or expensive software,” she adds. You’re far better off exploiting those moments when inspiration strikes. “Learn to capitalise on them wherever you are,” she says, as those ideas may feed into larger writing sessions.
3. Try to write every day (but there’s no need to do much)
You don’t have to stick to a set time, or routine – but the more you write, the more you’re likely to get where you want to be.
Cloke suggests trying to write every day, even if it’s only a couple of lines. “If you’re working on a novel, it really helps anchor you in that world and keeps your momentum up,” she adds.
4. Interrogate your thoughts
“Pay attention to what interests you,” urges Cloke. “There are all kinds of things which spark that creative urge in us and make us want to write – maybe it’s an overheard conversation or a headline seen out of context that sets you off on the kind of ‘What if…?’ that might eventually form a story.”
Cloke suggests paying attention to TV, books and films that mean something to you – “the things you have loved reading, or which made you want to write your own, and try to make a list about what they have in common. That can be a useful way of figuring out what you’re ultimately aiming for.”
When you find you particularly love something, interrogate those feelings. “What was it that you particularly admired or connected with? If you find common threads, it can be useful to figure out what you’re ultimately aiming for with your own writing,” she suggests.
5. Be as authentic to yourself as you can
“Trust your instincts – but listen carefully to them,” says Cloke. “I often hear writers worrying about whether an idea is ‘the one’ – whether it will be the one to get them published or whether they should ditch it. You have to do what you can to shut the door on those self-doubting thoughts.”
Cloke adds: “Focus on writing the story you want to write, because that’s all you really have control over. It’s not going to be enjoyable to do it any other way!”
This new year, we focus on fun, not denial (because we’ve all had enough of that). Follow our month-long plan, with a new ‘Here, Try This’ idea each day, spanning easy ways to engage your body and mind, inspiration for your food and home, and tips for boosting how you feel – inside and out.