Many of us promise that one day, we shall write that book, and perhaps we already have some ideas for a plot or some characters… but how many of us achieve that dream?
Here is how to prepare yourself for your new writing direction…
1. Read books in the genre in which you want to develop your abilities. By reading and thinking about the area in which you wish to write, you will find it all the easier to express yourself naturally and interestingly in this context.
2. Adopt a strategic approach to your reading. When you are reading an enjoyable book, stop occasionally to check how the words are making you feel. Anxious? In suspense? Fearful? Relieved? Are you reading quickly – to discover what happens next, or are you revelling in the description of a scene, possibly going over a paragraph twice in order to enjoy the unfolding scene? When you are moved by the writing of an author, re-read the exact words that have affected you – and analyse how the author has achieved this. Undoubtedly, this involves the careful use of vocabulary, but there may be changes in pace, style and dialogue that are significant. You can learn from this – not by copying the author's words – but by using similar techniques.
3. Remove unhelpful influences from your life where possible. That may mean saying 'No' to reading magazines in an uncritical way and listening to bland radio background music. These fill the brain, but do not feed it – a bit like stodgy comfort food that makes you fat without nourishing you properly. Filling your life with inspiring things will reflect in your own creativity.
4. Call yourself a writer – and write! Make sure that you write something every day. It does not have to be part of a great novel. Many writers find that by keeping a notebook and pen with them, and writing down thoughts and descriptions of what they see and hear on a daily basis, they can exercise their writing mind. Listen to and observe conversations around you that may inspire you, but be careful not to annoy people by appearing to eavesdrop.
5. Experiment with developing storylines in your head. Never use other writers’ plots – these will be obvious to your readers. Write down your ideas, even if you just jot down a list, or even make a doodle that expresses your ideas. It can be encouraging how the physical act of writing down ideas can help to clarify them, rather than allowing them to float around in your mind.
6. Expanding your vocabulary is always very helpful too. This is where that notebook can come in handy again. You could write down words (or phrases) that resonate strongly with you, as you read the work of your favourite authors, and in other situations too. Sometimes, a single word can be the catalyst to a stream of creative thought.
The Academy for Distance Learning offers a course in Creative Writing that can help you to realise your aspirations, using solid information, advice and the support of a tutor who will guide you every step of the way.