How to become a better and more engaging writer
I have been doing creative writing and poetry since the age of 12. Over the years I have picked up some tricks on how to improve your creative writing and poetry.
Creative writing and poetry are different from article writing and other professional writing. In many writing forms emotion and creative word use are not welcome or needed. In creative writing and poetry, things are very different. You’re trying to convey images and feelings to your reader, and you need to be able to do it well. I’ll share a few of the tricks that I have picked up, and hopefully they will help you improve your creative writing and poetry.
One of the biggest tips I can give anyone when it comes to creative writing and poetry is to improve your vocabulary. The more words and phrases you know, the more interesting your writing can become. Get a thesaurus and read it. Learning synonyms will help you to not be redundant or boring. For example, you could keep using the word “stuff” over and over, or you could add variety by using “items”, “possessions”, “things” and other words. It adds interest to your work.
Another way to improve your vocabulary is to read the dictionary, or get a “word of the day” calendar or use one online. I have a word of the day widget on my browser homepage, so I see new words each day when I log in before work. And don’t just read the words, really learn them. Make sure you know the meaning and how to use the words in a sentence. If possible, try to use the word during the course of conversation that day to set it and its meaning into your mind.
You should also learn descriptive terms and adjectives. It’s fine to say “John was cold”, but it’s more interesting to say “John felt chilled to the bone” or “John felt gripped by the frigid day”. You could say “the bug made a scratchy sound” or you could be more specific by saying “The bug made a disturbing chitinous noise”. You could say “Jill was sad and crying” but it would be far more emotionally engaging to say “Jill’s body shook with wracking sobs of anguish”. Learning how to say things in more descriptive ways will draw your reader in and keep them wanting more.
For poetry, I think one of the best things you can do is to take anything you’ve ever learned about poetry, and throw it out the window. Write how you want. Don’t worry about style unless you’re trying to get your work accepted by a particular publication or company with specific requirements. Poetry is the only form of writing where you can throw out all the rules and do what you want. Poetry can rhyme or not, it can have “sentences” made of single words, it can convey any image or emotion, and punctuation can be used any way you want.
When I write poetry, I let the feeling guide me. I don’t worry about rhyme, punctuation or style. I just let the words flow onto the paper. I let my inspiration guide me on how to use punctuation, how many words to put on a line and what words to use. I have even made poetry that is just a list of synonyms, or columns of antonyms. Sometimes something that simple can convey incredible emotion. Poetry is also one of the places where the thesaurus and word of the day can really be useful.
Another tip to improve your creative writing and poetry is to read the work of other writers. Some people say you should read the “masters”, people who have made tremendous sales, but I don’t believe that’s always the best way to go. There are plenty of people out there who are famous, but I don’t like their work. I suggest reading a lot of books written in the genre you want to write for, whether that’s poetry, horror, romance or whatever it may be. Read until you find authors that you enjoy, that spark something in you. Then read their work again, looking at their style as a guide for your own creative writing. Learn from the authors you love, not the ones other people say are the best.
Over time you will be able to pick up other tricks to improve your creative writing and poetry, but these few should certainly help you on your way. Keep writing, and keep learning as you go. We all have to start somewhere, and we all have to work hard and learn more in order to be able to produce work that we can truly be proud of.