Creative Writing Tips from Around the Blogosphere

writing tips

Writing tips from around the blogosphere

In the spirit of celebrating the writing community, I thought it would be fun to collect creative writing tips from some of the most talented, inspiring, and skillful writers in the blogosphere.

I wasn’t surprised that almost everyone I invited to participate in this collective post agreed – many people sent two or more tips so that I had some wiggle room in choosing which ones to include.

Each writer brought his or her unique voice to the project and generously gave their most writerly advice. I hope you enjoy these insights and find use for them in your own writing efforts. If you have any creative writing tips to add, please feel free to post them in the comments.

18 Creative Writing Tips from 18 Excellent Writers

Bill Womack 

I practice descriptions constantly. On walks around the neighborhood, I’ll make up sentences to describe what I see–the bark on a tree, or the way car tires sound as they crunch over icy slush. It’s all about keeping the writing muscles toned.

BJ Keltz from Enriched by Words

Try all the writing exercises you can find.  You will learn a lot about your voice and your process, and find a few that suit you well enough to work them into your daily writing routine.  Feel free to discard those that don’t work.

Bobby Revell

My most useful writing tip has nothing to do with writing at all. To retain and perpetuate inspiration, you must rid yourself of all ego. When you overly look up to writing luminaries you admire, compare yourself to other writers or see yourself as better or more talented than someone else–you cripple your own ability to be honest, open and creative. Your own ego is your worst enemy as a writer.

Brad Vertrees of Brad’s Reader

My writing really began to mature once I learned that creativity is more about perspiration than inspiration. This means that even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I still sit down to write. Once the words are on paper (or computer screen), then the editing process is where the magic (and work) begins – when a rough draft turns into a beautifully written short story. My point is that if you want to be a writer, then sit down and write, whether or not you feel inspired. Hard work is the name of the game!

Brett Legree of 6 Weeks

When you write, write from your gut, your heart, your soul.  Don’t worry too much about polishing it, because like a good conversation, if it is too polished, it will sound rehearsed.  It will not sound like “you”, it will not be “your voice”.  If you write from your very core, you will share the best you have to offer with the world.  And isn’t that what it is all about?

Deb Adams at G’s Cottage

Personalize the piece. My most memorable comments have come when the reader has not only gotten a glimpse of me as a full-spectrum individual but senses that I see them as a full-spectrum individual. To accomplish this requires a blend of honesty, openness and transparency. However, it is different from wearing one’s heart on the sleeve. Instead it makes room for imperfection and second-chances; and everybody has wished for a second chance at least once in their life.

Deb Boyken from Punctuality Rules

Be yourself. No matter how new you are to writing, nobody else can see things, or say things exactly as you can. By being yourself and letting that show through your writing, you will offer a totally unique product. But if you try to write like you think you’re supposed to write–instead of like YOU? Then you’re not offering anything special, so why bother? Only by being yourself are you truly unique, so … be yourself!

The Deep Friar

Forget the fancy grammar and spelling, and just write like you’re talking to your buddy over a few beers at the local pub. If you want your audience to open up and relate to you, it’s important to just be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because people can sense when you’re not being genuine.

Jaden at Screenwriting for Hollywood

Continue to educate yourself throughout your career, be an expert in your field, and never give up.

James Chartrand from Men with Pens

There’s an analogy in everything, and drawing analogies between concepts can unlock the box to your creativity. If I said, “Write about writing,” for example, you’d rack your brains. But say I suggest, “Write about the similarities between water and writing…” Well, the words just begin to flow.

Karen Swim from Words for Hire

My inner critic loves to hover over my shoulder pointing out that I am a hack. She incessantly questions every word, comma and semicolon on the page. Unable to drown her out with music, or ignore her and press on I came up with a sure fire solution. I banish her from my presence by physically kicking her out of the room and locking the door. I have found that acknowledging her presence and ordering her to leave is as effective as it would be on a “real” person. She is only allowed back in when I have written the first draft, and then and only then she gets to have her say.

Kate at Live Out of the Box

Hop on a bus or train.

Whenever I’m stuck in a storyline or would just like to do a whole lotta brainstorming, I take a bus or a train and could sit next to the window for hours in absolute silence. At that moment, it’s just me and my world that’s taking shape before my eyes. The fast moving scenery is enough to open the floodgates of words and images and I’m often amazed at the ideas that jump out, smacking me in the face. Just be sure you get off at the right stop and not find yourself in a whole different country.

Marelisa Fabrega of Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online

My best advice for creative writing is to create a swipe file—filled with images, quotes, poems, passages from books, possible names for characters, and anything else that catches your fancy.  Your swipe file can act as a creativity trigger, or as a playground in which you mix-and-match ideas until you’ve created something fantastic you can call your own.

Matthew Dryden

Every word you publish must have a pulse behind it. You must write with conviction. It doesn’t matter if you treat your pen like a razor and bleed words across the page, if your words don’t pump your passion through the veins of your readers, then you will not hear back.

Milena from The Leaping Thought

Let something you have written age. You’d be surprised how different your words can look and sound with a couple of hours worth of distance. Often, I let whatever I write sit overnight before hitting the publish button on my blog posts. This practice has helped me to notice mistakes in spelling, syntax as well as effect improvements in the melody of whatever I write.

Sean Platt, aka Writer Dad

Always be yourself.  If you’re not sure who that is, then just start writing.  No one can answer the deepest questions of who you are than you, and there’s no quicker route than the pen.  What keeps people from writing is the fear that they have nothing to say.  Yet that is an impossible thought.  We all have something to say, we just don’t all take the time to say it.  Just write.  Do it with the door closed if you need to, but write past the awkward and the truth will be waiting.

t. sterling watson of indoob, ’tis the workforce

Don’t tell me, show me.  You say there’s a dog across the street.  So what?  You show me it’s a snarling 5 foot beast with too many razor sharp teeth that always barks and never sleeps with way too long of a leash, and then I’ll believe why you never leave.

Zoë Westhof 

Make your readers feel what you are writing by using corporeal language. Words that are tangible, especially ones related to our bodies, evoke strong images and physical response.

Ex: “The howl sliced through her flesh, thrusting a wave of hot blood into her chest” is more gripping than “The piercing howl fueled intense fear as she imagined what was coming.”

Be Yourself

Of all the creative writing tips people shared, only one seemed to repeat itself, and I think it’s so appropriate that it bears repeating: be yourself. You can say it a million different ways – be true to yourself, do you, listen to your heart – and this is true not just in writing, but in life. The most successful, wealthy, and happy people on the planet are those that follow their own path, that march to the ticking of their own hearts, and who dare to believe in their own dreams. If you do nothing else in life, do that, and you (and your writing) will be fine.

Thanks to all the writers who so generously shared their creative writing tips, and for being part of the online writing community that has come to mean so much to me. This was a fun project and I’m grateful that you all decided to participate.

Update: John Roach over at Pro Writing Tips published a post around the same time this one went live, and his is called 17 No. 1 Writing Tips for the New Year. If you’re collecting writing tips, be sure to check it out!

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

58 Responses to “Creative Writing Tips from Around the Blogosphere”

  1. Matthew Dryden says:

    It feels odd to have my name tossed into the mix with so many other fantastic writers. James Chartrand’s words really stood out to me – as stupid as it sounds, I could never figure that out.

  2. Huh, check out what everyone said! This was very interesting to read, and like you, Melissa, I noticed how so many suggested writing from the heart and not to please others.

    It seems like outward approval of our words is something that many writers struggle with – from new to experienced. I wish I had a cure for that, honestly.

    James Chartrand – Men with Penss last blog post..Drive-by-Shooting Sunday: Linker’s Blog

    • When I realized that “write from the heart” was a running theme in these tips, I was reminded of a book called “Do You,” which unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to read yet. However, time and time again, the most successful people seem to issue this advice – “be yourself.” The most common advice from writers is “keep on writing.” I hear that in interviews all the time whereas “be yourself” is the best general advice for living a fulfilling, successful life, and I have to agree – it’s the only way to go.

  3. Bobby Revell says:

    Thanks so much for doing this Melissa, there are many fantastic ideas here–many new writers for me to meet also. I wish all of us could sit in a room together and talk for24 hours straight 🙂

    • This was a really fun project. I had a blast watching the tips come in – each one a little gem of insight, and I love seeing them posted all together. You get a real taste for each writer’s voice and style. A 24-hour meeting with all these writers would be absolutely fascinating – kind of like a mini-convention marathon, hehehee!

  4. Zoe says:

    Melissa,

    You really managed to pull together some quirky and original tips! I love Milena and Marelisa’s pieces of advice.

    You’ve also given me a few new blogs to check out… 😀

    • Aren’t they great? Everyone did such a wonderful job, and other than “write from the heart,” there weren’t really any repeats, which just goes to show how diverse the writing community is (and how smart, since “write from the heart” is so essential in life and in writing).

  5. Marelisa says:

    Hi Melissa: Thank you for including me in this project, I really enjoyed reading everyone’s tips. Practice descriptions constantly, rid yourself of your ego, sit down to write even when you don’t feel like it, let your writing age, use corporeal language . . . now I have a lot of new blogs to visit 🙂

    • I enjoyed these writing tips too – and it’s quite convenient to have so many of them on a single page. One of my hopes for this post was to give the writers who participated exposure to a new audience and it sounds like that’s worked out well too. It’s always fun to discover new blogs and writers 😉

  6. --Deb says:

    What a great list–and wow, am I in some good company! All the tips are wise and true, too … though I particularly liked Karen’s image of her shoulder-hovering inner critic. Thanks for asking me to participate!

    –Debs last blog post..Library Card?

    • Karen has a striking voice, doesn’t she? Perhaps the best thing about this list is that all of the tips are spot-on. Everyone had great advice to share and that just gives me the warm fuzzies, hehehee.

  7. Deb says:

    I agree; there is great writing fodder to start the new year, and I’m honored to be included in such esteemed company.

    Debs last blog post..2008 Year End Review; pt 2: Writing and Blogging

  8. B J Keltz says:

    My name with all these big people? How cool is that?

    I really resonate with James’ tip. I keep a file titled “Writing is like… (making paper, baking a cake, etc) and write on that theme a lot.

    I’m excited to find new writers to follow. Thank you so much, Melissa!

  9. t.sterling says:

    Thank you for inviting and including me in such a post as this, it’s really quite humbling.

    Even playing a small role, I learned a lot, as I always tend to do, and I’m once again reminded that I need to just write and be myself. So without further delay, I’m going to do just that.

    Thanks again Melissa, and the 17 others for such important information. I don’t use my bookmarks that often, but I will in this case. Also so I can find these other blogs. So much to read, so little time.

    t.sterlings last blog post..six fals–ahem–true facts about t. sterling watson

  10. Brett Legree says:

    I think many of us had the “be you” theme because we are writers at heart – so it comes easier for us that way.

    I really enjoyed reading what everyone had to say, and I feel honoured to be here with these great people – thanks, Melissa!

    • “Be you” is great advice for writers because many try so hard to accomplish some vision they have, which may not be in line with their natural tendencies. When I wrote my NaNo novel, I was expecting a speculative fiction for adults but what I got was speculative fiction for young adults – a subtle difference but it’s significant (especially if it ever gets published). At first, I was annoyed but then I realized that if that’s the story that was in my heart, then that was the story I needed to tell. Thanks Brett!

  11. Kate says:

    I hope I’m not too late, my fellow twin. The holidays have been crazy! Like the others, I couldn’t believe my name has been emblazoned with gold with the other big wigs. One of my fave tips was t.sterling’s. What a strong and unique voice!

    Thanks for asking me to participate. You’ve helped the writing community a lot with this one.

    Kates last blog post..I Give A Damn! Plus 6 Things You Don’t Know About Me

    • Hey twin! For some reason I want to call you Twinnie. Hehehee! The Sterling Watson has a very strong voice indeed (indoob, rather)! He’ll probably be flattered that you singled him out like that 😉 And you absolutely belong among these writers.

      • Kate says:

        Sure, I don’t mind you calling me Twinnie! Hmm.. might think of a nickname for you too. Twinnie Two? We’d be the creative writing blogosphere twins!

        And hey, the woman playing Nikki Sanders is in this fantastic new movie with Beyonce called Obsession. The Sterling Watson might know about it.

        Kates last blog post..I Give A Damn! Plus 6 Things You Don’t Know About Me

        • LOL, maybe I can be Twinna. Heheh! I’ll go check out the trailer for Obsession – I’m a fan of Beyonce (all the single ladies!) as well as Heroes. Thanks Kate!

        • t.sterling says:

          And you call yourself a Beyonce fan…
          The Pink Pather (remake) (wasn’t that bad)
          The Fighting Temptations (I bought it because I really like the music)
          Austin Powers: Goldmember (it was funny)
          Carmen: A Hip Hopera (nothing to write home about)
          And then there’s Cadillac Records which I haven’t seen yet. But I did like Dreamgirls, both the movie and the music… and Jennifer Hudson. Wow. Oscar well deserved. But anyway, I’m hoping Obsessed with be a much more dramatic role so we can appreciate Beyonce as a serious actress.

          t.sterlings last blog post..can’t end a vacation without a good breakfast

        • Well I guess I’m more a fan of her music. I never saw any of those other movies – just Dreamgirls, which I thought was pretty good. I do remember her being in Pink Panther and Goldmember though.

        • t. sterling says:

          Thank you (both Melissa and Kate) for singling me out like that… if only I could blush.

          And yes, I saw the trailer for this movie a couple weeks ago. It’s really nice to see Beyonce in a non-singing role. I’m not hating on her, I just wanted to see her in something that doesn’t require singing. And as for Ali Larter? Looks like she’s channeling Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, and that frightens me a little. In a good, but creepy way… if that’s possible. It’s too early to say how this movie will be (or perform at the box office), but I think it’s one I’d wait for on DVD. I’m slighty doubtful it will do well though. For this movie, I hope I am wrong. (This is a game I play with my sister.) But I’d like to see Larter as an A-Lister, Heroes has made me a fan of hers.

        • Yeah, the only thing I didn’t like about that trailer is it looks like a remake of Fatal Attraction, though I suppose it’s been long enough now that the story can be retold. I’m looking forward to seeing Beyonce in more serious role. I’m not sure about her acting since I’ve only seen her in Dreamgirls but I do love her music and dancing.

  12. Friar says:

    Wow…I’m still flattered to be up there on the list. (I never figured myself as a writer…I’m just someone who farts around on their blog).

    I find it interesting that Brett and I wrote almost the same thing, independently, without even knowing what the other guy was gonna say. Probably because we spend so much time together, cross-polinating our ideas over our beer nights!

  13. Iain Broome says:

    That’s a great list and I agree with pretty much all of them, which is a relief!

  14. Brett Legree says:

    Hey Friar, you could always talk like Popeye – he’s a G-rated sailor, after all 😉

  15. Writer Dad says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Sorry it took so long to respond. I didn’t see this until this morning (vacation and all). I love the entire page of wise words. It’s a wonderful collection, and I feel fortunate to be included. Thanks!

  16. ScreenwritingforHollywood says:

    What a great post! I agree with all these and learned a few new helpful writing techniques.

  17. Dr. Alice says:

    Write from the start is right! 🙂 If you ever need a resource to engage children (from 4-12) in the joys and drafting of creative writing go to Think It Ink It Publishing (www.thinkitinkitpublishing.com). Professionally illustrated wordless picture books in which kids write the stories and become authors!

    I would love to know any thoughts…

  18. Phil South says:

    This is wonderful stuff, Melissa. Actually after reading it and a few other blogs about a week or so ago I started thinking about the tips I give my students and it actually turned into quite a large essay on the creation process. It’s called “How to be a Creative Genius” and you can find it at http://goingdownwriting.wordpress.com. Hope you like it. Be grateful for any feedback from you or your loyal fans.

    All the best.
    .-= Phil South´s last blog ..How to be a Creative Genius =-.

    • That’s a great essay Phil! Creativity is hard work, but I definitely have to achieve a relaxed state to really get into the creative work (so I “lose time”). You should check out “The Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online.” She’s got top-notch creativity tips and resources!

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