#StudiousSeptember: Conditioning for Creating Writing

29 Sep

About a year ago I realized just how much I love creative writing and just how little time I had in my schedule to spend on it. With a little commitment, some great books, and a wonderful professor to set me on my journey, I found a few exercises to help give writing some air time in my life.
At first I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t have any brilliant ideas I wanted to shout to the world, or any stories that only I can tell. Which brings me to my first point:

#1 Write anything for ten minutes, even if it sucks, write it anyway.

There’s a big difference between the way writing sounds when it flows and the way it sounds when we force it. To help learn this difference, to find flow and stay in it rather than forcing it, you simply have to practice. I started with an exercise of ten minutes each day, just ten minutes. I would start a timer and just keep my pen moving until it went off, writing whatever came to mind. Even if you write about not knowing what to write about, you learn more than you would from not writing.

These “stream of consciousness” exercises loosen your figurative tongue and help you break the ice of beginner’s insecurity. By allowing yourself to write even the purest garbage, you get closer to saying what’s in your heart rather than just what’s on your mind.

#2 Write a picture

Good writing, whether it be poetry or a short story, fills our mind with images that are so potent that they keep us reading. In this exercise, you choose an image, it can be anything, an old photo that means a lot to you or just something interesting you dug up from a google search. Once you have your image, you write about whatever it is in the image that most interests you. This can be the colors, textures, people, places, or scenes that catch your eye and give you a feeling. You use the image as if it were the cover of your piece of writing and just go wherever it takes you.

#3 I remember when…

Memories make us who we are, just as any character in a story finds their identity through their memories. When we start with something familiar and write about our experiences, it makes the writing feel real and it makes the reader care. Writing what you know helps you and others to appreciate your environment and see it through your unique voice.

A final tip that I’d like to share from my lessons in creative writing is the idea that boredom is important. Great ideas often pop up in the gaps between good ideas if we give them the time to show up. Spending time by yourself, whether it be a quiet walk on campus or a mental health moment at the café, can open up your creative space by invitation. Even if you don’t plan on taking your writing global, writing your thoughts, recording your memories and nurturing your creativity are things you can do for yourself that will keep giving back.

-Amanda

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