Some people wonder why they are not so good in writing. Some believe they aren’t cut out to be writers. Some are struggling with it, some have conquered, and some have given up. Anyway, I believe everybody is a writer, all that is needed is learning the tricks.
Writing is a skill, just like speaking, listening and reading. If you can speak, you can write. As it takes learning and practicing to develop other skills, so is it with writing. You can look up articles on developing writing skills from the internet and read them up, but I want to drop my two cents on the matter.
Creative writing is different from academic writing. To me, creative writing is using our experiences and the experiences of others in an invigorating way to pass on intended message(s). A creative writer is expected to be imaginative, captivating and unique, even if the write-up is not a fiction. This means that you need to let your mind make use of its creativity during this process.
Before you start writing, you need to bear the following in mind:
1. Motivation: The first thing you have to do is ask yourself why you need to write. You have to be motivated for you to be a writer. If not, you will lose interest along the line. Besides, motivation should be your driving force in everything you do, including writing. So ask yourself these questions: Do I want to write because I needed to inspire people? Do I want to write because I wanted to correct some societal norms? Do I want to write because it is an outlet for my emotions, opinions and ideas (that’s me here)? Do I want to write because it will bring in more income? Anyway, look deep down you and find the reason you really wanted to write and allow it to pull you through.
2. Choose a Stand: Here is where you decide on the area(s) you want to write on. Your decision here will affect everything about your writing – language, length, mood, style and so on. So, do you want to write on politics, religion, romance, marriage, business, ICT, health, crime, community development, philosophy …? There are so many of them. But I’ll advice that you choose what interests you and what you are conversant with.
3. Audience: Who are your intended readers? What are their interests? Do you think your work will capture those interests? You have to bear your intended readers in mind when you write. It will be wrong to write to medical practitioners about the latest inventions that help in language teaching. It will be wrong to write to teenagers on exotic places they can enjoy their retirements. It will also be out of place if farmers were told about robots that can carry out surgeries. Let your targeted readers decide your write-ups.
4. Communication Channel: What I meant here is where you plan to send your write-ups to. How do you intend to get your audience to read your works? Which outlet will your audience have access to? You can think of using any of the following – newspapers, periodicals, blogs, magazines, social media, flyers, pamphlets, and so on. Some platforms have length requirements, making a word count tool necessary.
5. Language Choice: The language and the language variety chosen depend on a lot of things – topic, audience, purpose and channel. If you plan to write to professionals, it will be proper to use related jargon. If you are writing to the man on the street, then use street language. If you want to write to a semi-literate, please simplify your language. If your intention is to make your audience laugh, go for comic terms. Are writing religious matters? Then, use religious register. Let your language be the forerunner of your message.
6. Style: By style I mean the narrative technique you plan to use – suspense, imagery, code-switching, flashback, symbolism, and so on. You need to develop your own style to make your work unique (try not to pick up another person’s own). For example, you can choose to present your works using stories, rhetorical questions, proverbs, code-switching, arguments, and so many others. Find a way to make your work unique and captivating.
7. Practice: The saying that practice makes perfect still holds. Writing skill needs constant sharpening and oiling to avoid it getting blunt and rusted. And, if you don’t write at least once a day, you are going to lose the zeal to write. So, form the habit of writing everyday. You can make it long or short depending on your unique style. The major thing is that you transfer what is in your mind into the paper. If you get stuck along the line, just take a break and get back to it later.
8. Choosing a Topic: Choosing a topic is not the same thing as choosing an area. Within the area you focused on, you have to choose what to write about. That is the topic. Sometimes, the topic we are to write on eludes us; you find yourself wondering what to write and nothing will come to you. What I usually do in situations like this is to meet with people for some conversations, hang out in places that interest me, or read posts on social media. Trust me, ideas will keep jumping out of every structure, interactions and comments you see or read.
9. Facing your Fears: Sometimes, or rather most times, we are afraid of how our write-ups will be received by the readers. We are afraid that no one will want to read them or that they will be criticized. We are also afraid of our grammatical errors being pointed out and our ideas being thought as shallow. The truth is that everybody is afraid of how their works will be accepted. No one can really say what the reactions to their works will be until they push them out. It is also good to know that there is no perfect work, and that your idea isn’t all encompassing even though it will add to existing knowledge. Besides, criticism helps us to develop. So, remember, fear is a normal thing. Just write it and send it out.
I will come back with another post on different stages and strategies of creative writing. But before then, draft something and get it ready for your audience.