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Crafting a great story on paper from a good one in the head.

That’s a summary of the creative writer’s task. But it’s not a straightforward task for writing enthusiasts who are testing out their fingers on keyboards. They might have some potential big hit of a story swirling in their minds, but how to show the world on paper? After a number of furious attempts at making it happen, they may give up on the dream, or end up with a mediocre outline hissing scornfully at them.

Interesting literature isn’t produced merely by trial and error. There are steps to be taken, and things to be learnt in order to produce engrossing short stories and novels. Here are ten tips on writing creatively:

  1. Write: This is a no-brainer, but it’s worth harping on. And it’s not just about writing. The pen and the paper should become your friends. You may keep a diary, as a way of getting yourself to describe events, and to reflect on things and themes more regularly. Always keep a notebook close to you, so you’ll be able to write down interesting ideas when they come to you. Write every single day.
  2. Read: Do this as much and as often as you can. Read the works of great authors. Immerse yourself in the narratives of well-written novels. Take note of the different writing styles, characterization techniques, plots and themes. Find out what it is that makes certain books popular with readers- by reading them.
  3. Observe: The world around you provides a fine material with which you can build your characters and create your scenes. Stories filled with powerful ideas and themes are told by friends and strangers. Every one of us sees these things happen. A writer needs to be perceptive enough to pick rough gems out of everyday sights and sounds, and turn them into sparkling diamonds.
  4. Learn the Rules: Tackle deficiencies in grammar, punctuation, characterization, point of view and plot formation. Learn the rules, and you will be able to use them to your advantage. Study books and read articles which provide information on how to do these things properly. You can wield the pen in creative ways once you have learnt to make basic moves with it.
  5. Plan and Execute: Draw up an activity timetable to help you use your time effectively. Stop procrastinating, remove distractions or get away from them. Set out a specific time and a special space in your home for writing. Get to work: write a lot.
  6. Join Writers’ Groups: Writers’ groups provide a space for writers to connect, share their works and ideas, analyse and criticise these, review books, and pass across information relevant to writers. Presenting works on platforms such as this will afford one the opportunity to access valuable advice on possible improvement. There’s also the benefit of an exposure to a wide range of writing styles and perspectives. There are a good number of online forums which serve as meeting points for writers.
  7. Attend Writers’ Conferences: Writers of great renown share their wisdom with enthusiasts in writers’ conferences. These events serve to build the writer’s knowledge of her craft, and also has the impact of encouraging her to be better at it. Conferences like Connect Nigeria Writers’ Conference and other book festivals give you the opportunity to gain useful insight into becoming a more creative writer.

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This article was first published on 5th June 2016


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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