Our guide to creative writing
Kristina K

Our guide to creative writing

First published date August 23 2013 Amended date October 31 2014

Do you have a gift for words? Is writing your true calling? Whether you’re a traditionalist who loves their Bic pen and yellow-paged notebook or a contemporary who taps away on a Mac, if words and writing move you and storytelling is your passion, you may just have the tiny little buds of creative writing talent in you, waiting to be discovered.

If you’re inspired by great writers and novels, and need help to get started, you can have a taste at creative writing on some of the fun beginner to advanced courses, or even take your writing a few notches higher with a postgraduate qualification.  Whether you’re an amateur or seriously thinking of getting your work published, our creative writing courses are suitable for all your needs.


Dan Brown, Sophie Kinsella or Shakespeare – which one are you?

From Dan Brown’s intellectual writing that sparks debates on Christian history and an interest in Leonardo da Vinci; Sophie Kinsella’s laugh-out-loud, bordering on silliness, stories; to Shakespeare’s dark tragic sonnets; writing novels, screenplays, poems, plays and short stories are all part of the creative writing process. Most creative writing courses will encourage you to explore different creative writing voices and decide which one works best for you.


A page a day...

To pen the next bestseller, you’ll need to work at it. Writing is not instantaneous or just down to inspiration. A creative writing job involves a lot of hard labour, commitment, discipline and even when you’re facing a writer’s block, you continue writing. You must churn at least a page a day – ultimately, you’ll at least achieve 365 pages in a year!


Get on a creative writing course

Writers don’t need a degree in creative writing to get published so why would studying a course be of any help? Merely because when people who share the same passions gather together, there’s no shortage of encouragement, support and ideas. Not to mention the tricks you’ll learn, such as how important structure, plot, characterisation, dialogue, narrative voice, style and looking at pre-publishing work to gauge responses can be.


There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you...

Creative writing courses vary greatly in terms of levels, motivations and goals. Many people choose to complete a few different short courses, mostly to develop their writing capabilities. For undergraduate degrees in creative writing, you’ll mostly be taught on what writers need to know, foundation of the elements of writing to engage a reader and deploying crafts for various effects. Upon completion, you can choose to go on advanced degrees or start work in a creative field. If you decide to write intensely for a long period of time or teach in academia, then a Masters or PhD will be more suited to your needs. 


The Hotcourses book club

Love it or hate it, the Fifty Shades trilogy has taken the world by storm. We’re not huge fans, but hey, who are we to knock E.L. James’ bestselling novel, having sold over 70 million copies worldwide. The British author is said to have pocketed more than £3 million for the film rights and according to Forbes magazine, was 2012’s highest earning writer, raking in about £65 million! Her story of an affair between 27 year old billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele, has cleverly tapped into readers’ saucy side with the anonymity of e-book purchases. Now, maybe like her (she got obsessed with writing the novel after reading Twilight), you might want to get cracking with e-publishing.


Get some ideas

So, one of the most common questions writers get is ‘Where did you get your ideas from?’ Here are some of the unexpected answers we’ve heard, which might also help inspire you:

·         Some writers get their best ideas in a shower! A shower signals a new day or a new beginning and the rush of water creates a kind of white noise that makes concentrating easier.

·         Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was based on someone he knew from real life, his childhood friend, Tom Blankenship. If you’ve got a friend with a standout personality, he could possibly play a role in your story writing!

·         John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Grapes of Wrath novel is a commentary on social injustice and the forces behind the poverty and oppression during the Great Depression. Find an issue that matters to you through world news and documentaries.

·         Stephen King attributes a dream as the inspiration for Misery. Now off to your bed – quick!

·         Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games came to her when she saw a reality show of young people competing for million dollars or something similar, whilst flipping channels and seeing footage from Iraq War. The two fused together and the rest is history. Think what connections you can make in the world today and imagine what the world will be like tomorrow.

·         No excuses! If you’re out of ideas, daydream, get out, find them and keep writing. You can even get ideas from being bored!

Check out our Pinterest for creative writing ideas, or for some words of wisdom if you’re feeling demotivated. 


Did you know?

Creativity might plummet if it becomes a means to a rewarding end. Tests conducted on creative writing students noted a dive in their motivation and thoughts regarding their work when receiving rewards for their efforts.

Bilingualism and multilingualism might improve one’s creative writing skills.

High IQ and creativity might correlate with one another. So does creativity and mental illness!

Creative people are more likely to be dishonest! 

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