Margaret Atwood said it best: “A word after a word after a word is power.” Whether you’re looking for fresh inspiration or revising a first draft, take your creative writing skills to the next level with these tips from bestselling authors themselves
The ability to tell an engaging, exciting, emotional story is an enviable skill.
Strong creative writing skills are useful for any kind of written content; when you think about it, it’s a communication technique.
Learning how to powerfully and effectively communicate with the written word is an endlessly valuable tool, whether you’re an aspiring novelist writing a fantastical story from the depths of you imagination, a copywriter writing eye catching product descriptions, or an associate sending a quick but persuasive email to your manager.
Some believe that you can only ‘become’ a writer once you’ve got written work published somewhere, but the truth is, anyone can write. It’s never too late or too early to start exploring this skill.
If starting to write more of your own pieces is something you’re interested in, then it’s time to start fully exploring the limits of your own creativity. The important thing now is knowing how to show up for your work regularly – every day, ideally.
The truth is, the act of writing itself isn’t too difficult, but writing a piece of work is much harder, particularly if it’s a longer piece.
There are many resources available today that allow you to grow your creative writing chops, like online courses such as Masterclass or Udemy, or a good old fashioned book. If you’re overwhelmed by choice and not sure where to start, however, we’ve picked out a few of our favorite tomes on writing to help you level up your creative writing skills with practical examples and tools.
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
One of the most famous books ever written on the art of writing, Bird by Bird is the bestselling guide to using the power of routine, self-belief, and rolling with the punches in order to become a better writer.
Writing is tough – there’s the manuscript rejection, the writer’s block, the unexpected laptop crashes… but there are so many good things along the way. Lamott unpacks the importance of self-belief, finding a community of other writers to hold you accountable, and setting a daily routine.
On Writing Well – William Zinsser
For those interested in nonfiction writing – whether it’s writing magazine articles, thought leadership pieces, investigative journalism, or even email communication – this book is your guide to becoming the best wordsmith you can be. It explains why you must learn and practice principles like simplicity, consistency, voice, editing and enthusiasm if you want to persuade readers and make a difference in their lives.
3 key insights from this book include:
- Cut out unnecessary words and phrases as much as possible – simple writing is the best way to convey meaning
- Your beginnings and endings make a big difference for reader engagement, so spend time making them great
- Inspire yourself with your writing, and you’ll inspire those who read it.
Creative Writing: The Craft of Character – Amy Bloom
This book lets you dive into the exciting, artistic journey of character writing, showing you how to create complex, raw characters through empathy, self-knowledge, and keen observation.
Bloom posits that writing characters is really an exercise in self-knowledge. We can craft the best characters by inserting elements of ourselves in them (both the positive and the negative.)
Amy Bloom recommends asking yourself one key question when you start writing: “Whose story do I want to tell?” The next time you’re suffering from writer’s block, come back to this question. Sometimes, just approaching writing from a new angle is the easiest way to fall back in love with it. Write this question out at the top of a piece of paper or word doc and see if it jumpstarts your next great story. (Don’t forget to give us a shout-out in the Acknowledgments section when you do ;).)
Write A Story – Joshua Mohr
If you love writing, but struggle to finish your work, this course provides practical insights to free yourself from procrastination and keep creativity flowing until the project is complete. Novelist Joshua Mohr designed the course in order to teach the proper techniques for tackling this unwelcome aspect of the writing process, making sure that you always have a vibrant and compelling story to write.
Here are 3 key insights from this course:
- The importance of not giving your game away straight away – hook the reader in with intrigue and suspense
- Why you should let your readers get to know your characters gradually, just like they would in real life
- How you can try to find the sweet spot between writing a plot-based or character-led story