For reference, look at Daily Writing Tips’ awesome article Creative Writing 101. There are quite a few steps given there. I will be adding my own touches to them.
So, without any further ado, here are the three steps for you to climb and emerge as victor (sorry, couldn’t resist it).
Know the Genres and Subgenres of Creative Writing
It might not seem important now, but if you know the genres and subgenres of creative writing, you’ve done yourself a great service. Why? Because many great authors specialize in one big broad genre such as fiction or poetry or non-fiction. That is why… you see that great novelists write only novels, great short-story writers write only short stories, great poets only write poetry and so on. You don’t want to become “Jack of all trades; master of none.” And you can only specialize by knowing all of them.
Note: Now, of course, there are exceptions. Some novelists do write short stories and vice versa. But these types of authors are not common; they are rare. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t step outside of your broad genre and be afraid to experiment with other ones, it’s just to say that you should, first and foremost, go with the one you like most.
So do yourself a favour and read on the creative writing genres. They’re all known, of course. Fiction is branched into four sub-genres, of which only two are really popular: novels, novelettes, novellas and short-stories.
If you want to dig under the surface, you will find more and more sub-genres. Stories under 1000 words are called micro-fiction. Recently a new type of sub-genre has come into light: Twitter fiction, fiction of 140 characters. The people who make such fiction must be talented, because I can’t seem to close up a story under 1000 words. Concise writing, of course, is the issue.
Then there is poetry. I don’t write any poetry now, because I find it harder than writing fiction and hence I specialized and chose fiction as my broad genre. There are many sub-genres under poetry. Sonnet, haiku, ballad, tanka, pantoum, roundel, etc. My head hurts just looking at so many forms. Wow.
Creative Non-fiction. It’s strange that non-fiction is a part of creative writing, but then, as goes a saying, the truth is sometimes better than fiction. Memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, essays and journals, etc are all part of non-fiction.
Pick Out Your Own Genre
This is sometimes easy work, and sometimes hard work. It took me nearly a year to find out my own genre: writing fiction. Before I was experimenting with all forms without success and in vain (yeah they say the same thing). As soon as I started writing only fiction, my writing improved.
Every writer has his own genre of which he seeks to become the master of. It shouldn’t necessarily be fiction or a popular form. It can be as obscure as can be. Only enjoyment should be gained out of it, at least at the beginning. (You’re free to make money from it if you’re really good enough!)
It might be fun sometimes to step out of your genre and write something fun. I tried this with essays and it was a success. But remember that you should first write inside your genre and then after some time do what you like.
Start Writing (Regularly)
It doesn’t matter whether you write once a day or a week or a month or anything else. Your writing should not be set on a schedule in which you can’t match your other work. “Write Every Day” is outdated advice now… the newer and better advice is “Write Regularly as much as you can inside your genre.” If you continue the practice… you should start seeing results. Never break off from your work. I tried it one time and the results were not uplifting. It took me a whole month to get back to my earlier standard.
Bottom line is: just write (regularly), and you’re started in creative writing! You can say with pride, “I’m a writer.” Just write. That’s it.
But what’s the purpose?
If your purpose is to get published and make money from your writing straight away, I’m sorry to say that you will be bitterly disappointed. Even the best authors’ first novels were proper garbage (not my words; their words) unless they were edited previously. So you might as well give up creative writing if you only want the money.
But if your purpose is to enjoy your ride and perfect your writing and just be pleased by writing, then you are welcome inside the camp of writers. You’re a writer. So you might just as well do—do what?—write.
Tomorrow we will look into the differences between creative writing and technical writing.
This post is the second instalment in the series “Creative Writing 101.”