The beauty of creative writing is all it requires is a pen and paper – or keyboard – right?
Yes and no. Certainly, it is the most flexible and portable of creative arts. No canvas, camera, studio, barre or instrument required. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can expect to crank out great writing regardless of circumstance. There are (at least) five essentials without which your craft will suffer.
The one absolute imperative for creative writing is time. Without it, you go nowhere. Some people manage to squeeze brilliant creative work in around a full-time job, raising kids, etc. Those people are superhuman. Don’t feel bad if you’re not one of them. Be brave and unapologetic about making time for writing, whether it’s half an hour each evening, or every Sunday afternoon.
If you want to write well, don’t diet. “A good dinner is of great importance,” wrote Virginia Woolf, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” She was right, as it happens. The brain runs on glucose, it in fact uses about 70% of your body’s supply, and glucose depletion rapidly causes a decline in your mental abilities.
You have to be a reader to become a writer. Surrounding yourself with books not only activates your imagination and appreciation of the written word, it reminds you of what you’re aiming for. If, like me, you travel a lot Kindles are invaluable. But even if you’re a dedicated e-reader keep some books to hand to enjoy the sensory experience of turning pages, making notes, underlining favourite passages.
Writing well is hard. You can’t write without love in your life, love for your life, and love for your work. If you’re going through a hard time writing can be therapeutic. By all means write but don’t pressure yourself to produce great art while you’re trying to mend a broken heart. Even if you aim is to capture the sadness and struggle, you can’t do it from the middle of your suffering. You need perspective. You need to be in love with your life. Focus on that first.
“Beautiful art can only be produced by people who have beautiful things about them,” notes John Ruskin. And nothing is more beautiful and inspiring than nature. After all, the world’s greatest paintings and sculptures are merely representations of its astonishing splendour. If you’re in a creative rut go outside: walk, find a park or a beach, bit of woods, whatever you can, and immerse yourself in it. Look very closely at a leaf or watch the rhythm of the waves. Allow your mind to wander. You’ll go back to work refreshed, I promise.
You Write! Give us 150-200 words on your Writing Essential in the comments.