Creative Writing Tips

Whether it’s writing a short story, a poem or a rap song, we could all do with a few tips to get our creative juices flowing.

As this week is National Storytelling Week we’ve asked our wonderful Voices 2020 judges to share some of their top tips.

1. Be open to ideas

All ideas and every experience, either big or small are valuable to writing.

Former Children’s Laureate Lauren Child says that she gets inspiration from the ‘little things’ even ‘when standing in the supermarket queue’.

Lauren says she writes about; “The things people tell me, funny things, strange things or things that are totally imagined, things that just float through my mind”.

2. Always carry a notebook

As well as springing from anywhere, ideas can happen at any time, so always have something to write on.

Children’s author Abi Elphinstone says; “As a writer, you are like a detective so watch the world fiercely.”

Take down notes of anything that interests you and you could be the next Arthur Conan Doyle.

3. Research, research, research

What if you still don’t have any ideas? Don’t panic! Sometimes it takes a bit of work to create something magical. For author Piers Torday, reading, watching films, listening to music or just connecting with friends can do all the imaginative work for you.

Piers says; “You need to be putting as much into your imagination as you are taking out”.

4. Planning

So you have some ideas, but what next? Professional authors know that it can be challenging to shape your ideas into a story. Our Voices judge Abi says:  “Sometimes my ideas are a total mess. I’m dyslexic and I’ve learnt over the years that that doesn’t mean I can’t write stories.”

Abi says that the key to getting through this stage is planning; “I start every story I write by drawing a map of my fictional world because it’s only when I see my imagined land laid out in front of me that a plot unfolds”.

5. Writer’s block?

Are you struggling to get past the planning stage? Even the most experienced writers can be hit by the dreaded writer’s block. Author and music journalist Paolo Hewitt recommends not forcing things too much and taking some time to relax; “The last time I had writers block I just forgot about writing and got up and did something else. I didn’t worry about it, and the next day I was back at the keyboard”.

6. Don’t give up

Making a start on your writing is one thing, but it can be difficult to keep it going and staying motivated. For Piers, it’s about never giving up;”Don’t be afraid to fail. There are good days and bad days. Write little and often. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Even 50 to 100 words a day counts!”

7. Be kind to yourself

You have got your idea and you have started writing, but what if you are not happy with what you’ve written?

Rap artist Ric Flo advises young writers not to judge themselves too harshly. Ric says;”Just freestyle it at first. When you turn on a tap, a lot of junk comes out first before the good stuff comes. Don’t overthink it, just get it out first and then you can start to craft and refine it”.

8. Share your story

Once you have finished, don’t keep it to yourself, and share your story.

For Ric Flo, it is important to share your story once you’ve completed it. Ric says:’ “I was always inspired by Eminem, 50 cent and Tupac so I started off rapping like them but then I started to find my own voice and rap about my experience in care. When I found the courage to tell my story, it felt amazing and really motivating that young people were connecting to it.”

We hope that our judges have given you some inspiration to share your story in the Voices competition.

If you need a bit more encouragement, take a look at the amazing finalist entries from Voices 2019.