Recently I noticed someone found this blog while searching for ‘don’ts for creative writing.’ That really got me thinking. Are there such things as creative writing don’ts?
Personally, I dislike ‘don’ts’ because they sound so negative. Writing should be fun and the instructions for writing shouldn’t be restrictive. Also, a lot of writing advice is subjective – advice that works for certain people but not for everyone.
However, the more Creativity and I thought about it the more we realised we could make a positive list of don’ts which should cover just about all writers.
I’ll let Creativity take it from here.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Yes, yes, we all want to create the best work we can, but perfection is a downright impossibility – like weedless gardens and toilet trained puppies (or was that just ours?).
Aiming for the perfect sentence, story, character or description ruins your freedom to create. The fear of imperfection gums up your Creativity’s momentum and leaves him/her immovable in an anxious, sticky mess.
First drafts are rubbish. That’s the nature of first drafts. Most second and third drafts are pretty dreadful too. Instead of letting this stress you, run with it.
Who needs perfection when you can be creatively, imperfectly spectacular?
Don’t Copy Other People’s Work
I’m not talking about plagiarism, which is a foregone no-no. I mean copying someone’s style because you think you have to be just like insert-favourite-author’s-name-here to be any good.
Each writer has a unique voice. By copying someone else’s voice you’re missing out on the thrill of using your own writing voice. It would be the equivalent of speaking like Donald Duck your whole life without ever discovering you’ve got the perfect voice for thriller movie trailers.
If you haven’t found your voice yet then get writing. Don’t go for perfection. Don’t copy someone else’s stuff. Unleash your Creativity at the page and just write what you feel should come from your pen.
Don’t Just Talk or Read About It, Do It!
Writing is sitting down to a computer keyboard or picking up a pen and adding words to a white page, or a pink page, or an orange page…you get the idea.
Writing is about creating words of your own. Don’t just read other people’s words – write yours!
Don’t Wait Until You’re 70 to Start Writing
You’re never too young to write. Even small children can write endearing stories.
Don’t use your age as an excuse. Use it as an opportunity to capture yourself and your thoughts at this particular age. Give yourself something to look back on and something to build on as you get older.
Don’t Expect Your Writing Experience to Match Everyone Else’s Writing Life
As mentioned above, there is a plethora of writing advice out there and it won’t all fit with your writing experience.
Some people need silence when writing, others need background music. Some outline before they begin writing, others dive right in. Some have to type their manuscripts, others can only write with the ol’ paper and pen. Some people sit right-way-up in their chairs and some people sit up-side-down (or is that just Robin Williams?).
In fact, each project you work on will come out differently. Some stories come easily, others take coaxing, still others require you to get in there with an Egyptian nose hook and…eww.
Ahem, ignore that analogy. It’s given me the heebie-jeebies.
Now, where was I?
Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to change your writing habits and environment if something’s not working. Follow your Creativity and discover what makes him/her happiest.
Now it’s your turn. What would you add to the list? Be positive and helpful. Imagine what you wish someone had said to you when you started writing.
Some of my twitter friends have already had their say. Here’s a sample of their wisdom.
- Don’t write about your failed, unhappy relationship. – @GoodWillJohnson
- Don’t try to mash your story into the Hero’s Journey….You shouldn’t force an idea to follow the monomyth.- @nicktatorship
- Here’s one if you’re a morning person: Don’t check your email and social media first thing when you get up, write first. – @cjtreggett
So join the list either in the comments below or on Twitter (@JessBaverstock) and have your say on creative writing don’ts.