Creative Writing- 5 Crucial Reasons Why You Never Really Get Going With Your Creative Writing

How happy are you with your creative writing right now?

If a rating of 100 was “I’m writing the most amazing, rich and deep creative work I’m capable of” and a rating of 0 was “I’m not even writing”, where would you be right now on that scale?

If you rated yourself around 80 or above, congratulations, that’s fantastic! You’ve obviously found the methods, routines and techniques that are working incredibly well for you as a writer.

If, like the vast majority, your rating was much lower, then obviously you’re aware there must be a number of factors that are preventing you from being the best creative writer you can be.

So here are 5 of the most common reasons why you never really get going with YOUR creative writing, and what you can do instead:

1. You feel you don’t have enough time. You don’t write very often, and when you do it’s only a snatched few minutes here and there. You don’t have a chance to get going, to build momentum. There’s always something “more important” demanding your attention.

What you can do – Set aside a fixed period to create in every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Get up earlier, go to bed later, borrow the time from somewhere, make it a priority. Stick to it the same time everyday and within a couple of weeks you’ll notice the difference in your creative writing.

2. You lack the confidence in your creativity. You don’t believe you ever write anything that’s any good or worthwhile. You feel “what’s the point of writing if I never come up with anything good?”

What you can do – Build your confidence by starting with small projects. Pick a simple form like a short article or poem and just experiment writing with different approaches. Detach yourself from the outcome of the “finished product”. Just write to enjoy the experience of writing.

3. You struggle to focus on one project. You always have about 17 projects at various stages of completion. Whenever you start working on one project, you come up with ideas for the others, and you feel bombarded with options and overwhelmed.

What you can do – Pick one project. Make it something quite small, something you can finish within a couple of hours. Put all the other projects away out of sight. The aim here is to practice seeing one project through to the end, and experience what that feels like.

4. You don’t think you come up with enough good ideas. You often just sit staring blankly at a screen, wondering where on earth your next idea will ever come from. This makes you feel more and more anxious and to avoid this feeling, over time you’ve stopped even sitting down to write.

What you can do – Being open to ideas and to stimulation is a state of mind, something that anyone can develop. Take a notebook or sketchbook out to a new environment. Go through each of your 5 senses in turn and write down as much as you can about what you’re experiencing through that sense. This will enhance your sensory awareness, and ideas will flow more easily to you.

5. You feel a slave to procrastination. You never quite get around to writing, you always manage to find something else important to do. Like reorganising your bookshelf or cleaning the entire contents of your cutlery drawer.

What you can do – Set a short period of time to create every day, say 15 minutes. In this time, just write, forget about everything else. Just write what comes to you, whatever that may be. The more you practice just sitting down and going straight into writing – without finding an excuse not to – the easier it’ll get.

These are 5 of the top reasons why people struggle to be the wonderful creative writer they have the potential to be.

Which do you relate to most?

What actions can you start to take today to move your creative writing forward?

How to Kickstart Your Writing

The American National Commission on Writing surveyed 120 major American corporations affiliated with Business Roundtable (an association of CEOs leading US corporations in manufacturing, finance, services and high technology) and discovered that writing is a “threshold skill” for the hiring and promotion of professional employees in today’s workplace.

The report, titled “Writing: A Ticket to Work… or a Ticket Out”, reveals that: – People who cannot write and communicate clearly are not likely to be hired or, if hired, not be considered for promotion, – More than 40 per cent of the responding companies offered or required training for salaried employees with writing deficiencies, costing as much as US$3.1 billion annually. – More than 50 per cent of all responding companies report that they “frequently” or “almost always” produce technical reports (59 per cent), formal reports (62 per cent), and memos and correspondence (70 per cent). Also, e-mail and the need for documentation mean that writing skills are essential.

Interestingly, writing is not as easy as one may think, which explains the frequent complaint, “I have writer’s block!” In fact, some people get highly anxious when asked to write: college students have been known to avoid courses which involve writing, and executives (young or old) are unsure of how to use information gathered and, ultimately, spend less time planning, writing, editing or reworking their texts.

Writing the first sentence is usually the hardest, especially if you have a highly critical imaginary inner voice (or a real external one), but the good news is that gathering your ideas, information or thoughts and a little planning can kick-start your writing.

A Brainstorm Of Ideas The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “brainstorm” as either a “violent, transient fit of insanity” or “a sudden bright idea”. Whichever meaning you prefer, your ideas, information and thoughts are the meat of the matter or the body of your e-mail, memo or report. The first step to writing is to record initial ideas on paper before they float away at the sight of a pretty girl or evaporate after tonight’s home-cooked dinner at your mother-in-law’s.

  • Listing

I would write the topic or assignment title at the top of a page and then quickly list keywords associated with the topic. In five-minute sessions, I’ve often used listing as a way to show college students that they have the information and ideas to start off their writing assignments despite their moans of “We don’t know what to write!” The most important rule: NO COMMENTS ALLOWED. Focus on gathering as much information as possible; the review comes later.

  • Free Writing Or Free Typing

Do you stumble upon great ideas when you’re chit-chatting with someone? Discoveries happen also when you’re free writing or free typing. Many writers have turned bloggers because informal writing is relaxing and, in turn, produces some of the best ideas.

  • Copying and Pasting

I find this useful for research-based writing like college assignments, journal articles or even a magazine article. I would highlight the relevant text and paste it in a new Word document or postcard-sized cards, along with the reference details. The “list of ingredients”, compiled in one document, is ready for me to review, sift through, blend and then knead into the desired shape.

  • Clustering or Mind-Mapping

For some writing assignments, especially complex ones with overlapping or conflicting topics, this visual way of clustering ideas together or mind-mapping helps me dig my way out of an avalanche of information. Using a pen and a blank sheet of unlined paper, write the topic title in the centre and then note down key ideas related to it as they come to mind. Add each new idea to the most suitable section and soon, you’ll have a cluster of notes for review.

Tony Buzan’s mind-mapping techniques encourage you to use an image or picture as the central idea and colours for your mind map, which are great for group writing. Check out: for samples of mind-maps.

Pulling It All Together: Now that you’ve got the building blocks, you’ll need a structure to get your house in order. Go back to your list, free writing or mind-map and sort through the ideas and assign similar or related ones to separate groups.

For example, a progress report may include sections on the team members and their profiles, background to the project (objectives, outputs, timeline, the allocated budget and projected expenditures) and a status update. A rough outline (shown below) could later be converted into a table of contents. Armed with information and an outline, you’re now ready to write.

A. Objective: To improve customer feedback rating from “Satisfactory” to “Good”

B. Team Members:

1. Front office and reception

2. Customer service representatives

3. IT Helpdesk

4. Section Heads – Marketing, Operations

C. Outputs:

1. To increase customer response time by 20%

a. Pick up phone calls by the third ring

b. Respond or acknowledge e-mail enquiries within 24 hours

– IT to advise front desk on spam filters?

– Checklist of questions and answers

2. To increase productivity by reducing face-to-face meetings

a. Limit meeting times to a maximum of 30 minutes

b. Post weekly meeting and agenda items every Friday (for review and agreement on Monday)

D. Timeline:

E. Budget