The Writer: A Short Film

the-writer-short-filmToday’s post on Writing Forward is a special treat. It’s a short film called The Writer. As you have probably guessed, it’s a about a writer.

There are only a handful of films about writers, but not nearly enough for those of us who labor at the craft of wordplay and storytelling. It’s always exciting when a new film comes out that explores what it means to be a writer.

And that’s exactly what this short film does. Read more

Genres in Fiction Writing: Literary Fiction vs. Everything Else

creative writing

How do you classify creative writing, or do you?

In creative writing, we talk about form and genre. Form is what we write: fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Genre is how we further classify each of these forms.

In fiction writing, there’s literary fiction and everything else.

In fact, literary fiction and all the other genres are so at odds with each other that some writers simply say they are either literary fiction writers or genre writers.

But what does that mean? Isn’t all fiction considered literary?

Yes and no. Read more

Self-Expression in Creative Writing

creative writing

Do you use creative writing for self-expression?

A lot of young people first come to creative writing because they have a burning desire to express themselves. Emotions are running high, ideas are flying, and opinions are in full supply. What better way to get it all off your chest than writing it down?

Self-expression is the heart and soul of all forms of creative writing from fiction and poetry to memoirs and essays. We combine our inner thoughts and feelings with what we perceive in the outer world and put it into words.

When we balance what’s happening inside with what’s happening outside, real magic happens: that’s the sweet spot where we connect with readers.

For some of us, self-expression couldn’t be easier. Give us a pen and a piece of paper and our ideas will come pouring out. For others, putting thoughts and feelings into clear, coherent sentences and paragraphs is a challenge. Everything comes out garbled, and only the writer can make sense of it. Read more

Exploring Genres in Creative Nonfiction Writing

creative nonfiction writing

Creative nonfiction writing is a growing genre!

Creative writing includes more than just fiction and poetry. Creative nonfiction is a wide category of creative writing, which includes several genres.

Creative nonfiction is a relatively new field; only in recent years have works of creative nonfiction received the kind of attention from critics and readers that fiction and traditional nonfiction have enjoyed for decades.

It’s likely that creative nonfiction will continue to gain strength as a dominant force in the world of writing. The world wide web is growing at an astounding rate, and much of the content on the Internet is considered creative nonfiction. Take blogs, for example; many would be considered creative nonfiction. Read more

Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class

creative writing class

What can you learn in a creative writing class?

People ask me all the time whether I think a formal education is necessary to a successful writing career. A degree certainly helps, but no, it’s not necessary. There are master writers who did not finish high school and plenty never went to college.

I want to be clear: I fully support higher education. If you pull me aside and ask whether I think you should go to college, I’m going to say yes, of course you should! At the same time, I encounter plenty of writers (and other professionals) who are insecure because they feel they need that degree to back up their abilities. That’s just not so. If you want to write, you should write, regardless of whether you have a degree.

Keep in mind that while a degree is helpful (and you certainly learn a lot of valuable things in college), it’s neither a license to write nor a guarantee that you’ll be successful. Whether you pursue higher education or not, it is important to study the craft of writing. You can read books, join a writing group, or take a creative writing class. Read more

Internal and External Approaches to Creative Writing

creative writing

Two approaches to creative writing.

When I’m working on a story, I try not to think about technique too much. I focus on forging ahead without overanalyzing every step in my creative writing process.

My top priority is to get the ideas out of my head and onto the page.

However, during revisions and between projects, I often evaluate how I approached a project so that I can better understand my own creative process.

Hindsight is 20/20. I might decide that I didn’t do enough character sketches and therefore have to do more extensive rewriting. On the other hand, I might determine that I spent too much time writing down every idea and detail when I could have focused on the narrative and gotten it done more quickly. Read more

Living the Creative Writing Lifestyle

creative writing lifestyle

Is creative writing a lifestyle?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines lifestyle as “a particular way of living: the way a person lives or a group of people live.”

Dictionary.com defines it as “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.”

A lifestyle is something you build for yourself from all the elements that make up your daily life: your thoughts, dreams, actions, routine, work, family, friends, food, hobbies, habits, and interests.

So is creative writing a lifestyle? Read more

Ideas for Creative Writing Projects and Practices

creative writing projects

Need ideas for your creative writing projects?

Do you ever feel like you’re in a writing slump?

You can’t find a project worth committing to, or you have so many ideas, you can’t choose just one. You fill your notebooks and journals, but you can’t find a sense of purpose in what you’re doing. Maybe you spend a lot of time thinking about writing but can’t find the time to actually write.

Sometimes, the best plan is to make a plan. Instead of writing in circles or fretting about your projects (or lack thereof), stop and think about what you want to achieve or explore with your writing. Make a list of ideas for creative writing projects that you can sink your teeth into and then choose one and see it through to the end. You’ll come out of it with a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Read more

Do You Need a Creative Writing Degree to Succeed as a Writer?

creative writing degree

Do you need a creative writing degree?

Young and new writers often ask whether they need a creative writing degree in order to become an author or professional writer.

I’ve seen skilled and talented writers turn down opportunities or refuse to pursue their dreams because they feel their lack of a degree in creative writing means they don’t have the credibility necessary to a career in writing.

Meanwhile, plenty of writers with no education, minimal writing skills, and scant experience in reading are self-publishing, freelance writing, and offering copywriting services en masse. Read more

Creative Writing Activities

creative writing activities

Take a break with these creative writing activities

Every once in a while, we writers need a break from our regular writing routines. Whether we spend our work week crafting copy for clients or dedicate late-night hours pounding out chapter and verse, we occasionally need respite from the monotony.

We get burnt out in the middle of a long project and need to step away so we can gain perspective and recharge our creativity. Sometimes we need to rejuvenate between projects. When a major project is finished, we need to find our next big idea.

But we also want to keep writing. A short vacation from writing practice starts with good intentions but ends with wondering how months or years slipped by without getting any real writing done.

One great way to continue writing while taking a break from our work is by engaging in creative writing activities. These are activities that remind us that writing is fun, meaningful, and invigorating, and they keep our writing skills sharp. Read more

Creative Writing: Is It Fun or Is It Work?

Is creative writing a lot of fun, a lot of work, or both?

Creative writing belongs to the arts, and the arts are an odd bunch.

People pursue artistic endeavors for  different reasons. For some, it’s a hobby. For others, a livelihood. For most, it’s a hobby they dream of turning into a livelihood.

It’s a worthwhile dream and a lofty one too. But what does it take to get there? How much fun are you allowed to have, and just how much work must you do to turn your passion into a full-time job?

And if you do manage to make a career out of creative writing, will it still be as fun as it was when it was just a hobby? Read more

Where to Get the Best Creative Writing Tips

creative writing tips

How to find the best creative writing tips.

This post was originally published back in 2009, but I’ve updated it to add some new resources. Enjoy!

You don’t have to search far to find creative writing tips. There are tons of books, websites, and magazines that will let you in on the secrets of creativity and good, strong writing.

But if you want the inside scoop on what it takes to be a successful author, wouldn’t it be best to get it straight from the source–from a published author, an agent, or the editor of a major publication or publishing house?

These experts can share proven techniques that will help us improve our writing, get our work in front of an audience, and build a readership.

Read more