5 Steps To Creativity In Writing

5 Steps To Creativity In Writing


Creativity is essential for writers. We define creativity, look at the importance of creativity in writing, and give you 5 steps to become more creative.

‘In a time of destruction, create something.’ ~Maxine Hong Kingston

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is an act where we create something new – something that did not exist until we put it together.

According to Psychology Today: ‘Creative thinking involves making new connections between different regions of the brain, which is accomplished by cultivating divergent thinking skills and deliberately exposing oneself to new experiences and to learning.’

Creativity is a process.

Being creative means that we take two or more things that were not there before and we put them together. If it’s any good, our creation will have made something more valuable and better than what came before.

Creativity In Writing

When we write we are performing a creative act. We are quite literally creating a novel idea. Our words make up people and places that did not exist until we gave them life.

We take an idea, dream up a set of characters, build a world for them, and create.

There are no new plots and most genres are set, but we take this framework of fiction and we make something of our own.

James Clear says: ‘The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas or recognising relationships between concepts. Creative thinking is not about generating something new from a blank slate, but rather about taking what is already present and combining those bits and pieces in a way that has not been done previously.’

Creative writers and great business writers do this every day.

Creativity Is A Solution To A Problem

The writer’s favourite question: ‘What if?’ is the ultimate creative question. When writers get stuck or when they are plotting a novel, one of the best ways to employ creativity in writing is by asking this question.

What if my protagonist loses their job? What if my villain is arrested on an unrelated charge? What if the setting becomes uninhabitable? What if my character loses one of their senses? What if a stranger comes to town?

Questions like these create a new reality that has to be navigated.

How To Be Creative When You Write

James Webb Young, author of A Technique for Producing Ideas, suggested that there were five steps to being creative: They are “1) gathering material, 2) intensely working over the material in your mind, 3) stepping away from the problem, 4) allowing the idea to come back to you naturally, and 5) testing your idea in the real world and adjusting it based on feedback.” (source)

Writers can adapt this method for their own work to develop their creativity skills. I have adapted it to create a ‘5 Steps To Creativity In Writing’ process.

5 Steps To Creativity In Writing

Step 1: Gather Material

(Tip: You don’t need to do everything listed below, but the more you do the easier it will be.)

  1. Find an idea for a plot.
  2. Decide on your four main characters.
  3. Complete detailed character questionnaires.
  4. Write a synopsis for your story.
  5. Create an outline.
  6. Use a timeline.
  7. Make lists of your characters’ traits and flaws.
  8. Research the setting.

Step 2: Work It Over

Think about everything you’ve learned along the way. Ask as many ‘What ifs’ as you can. Think about what happens when you put characters together.

Examine the various ways the plot could develop. Imagine using the antagonist as a protagonist. Perhaps you could start the story at a different point. Perhaps you could tell it from another character’s viewpoint. Maybe it would be better in present tense instead of past tense.

Try some visual techniques (including creating patterns, doodling, drawing, and pinning) when you do this. Read: 5 Visual Techniques To Bring Your Story To Life. Do some synaesthesia exercises.

Step 3: Step Away

Step away from what you have been working on. Stop thinking about what you’ve been writing. Try to do something that has nothing to do with it at all. (This is the most important step in the process, but it only works if you have done the work in the first two steps.)

Step 4: Wait For It

Your ideas will come back to you on their own, often in a better shape than the original ones you had. You may want to write the story from a different viewpoint – maybe first person instead of third person, or write in another genre, or set it in another universe.

Step 5: Write The Story

Test the idea by writing the story. You will be bursting with energy and creativity because you have so much material in reserve. The response you get to the finished product will be the ultimate test.

Top Tip: This is not just for creative writing. Use this five step process to help you in your business writing, blogging, or for creativity in your business. The importance of creativity in writing cannot be overstated.

© Amanda Patterson

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Dan Ó keeffe

    Great concise tips

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