Perfecting your craft requires you to put pen to paper — or more likely, fingers to keyboard — repeatedly and frequently, because there’s no question that you need plenty of practice to get better at creative writing. That is why journaling, doing daily writing prompts, and participating in writers’ groups are all excellent ways to nurture your inner creative writer. Because locking yourself into the creative writing bubble is bound to rob you of your creative flow sooner or later, and because inspiration can be found practically everywhere, it is also, on the other hand, crucial to take time away from your writing and to live your life.
Whether you’re stuck in a brutal episode of writer’s block or just want to try new ways to get better or find new stories to tell, here are some great ways to help yourself grow as a creative writer. While none of them involve any actual writing, they’ll all move you forward.
1. Read plenty of books
Drowning yourself in quality literature kills two birds with one stone. You get a well-deserved break, and at the same time give yourself the gift of beautifully-crafted language. Reading good books will subconsciously steer you toward better writing. Reading bad books, on the other hand, allows you to develop confidence in yourself as you internally criticize the author’s faults and mistakes and realize that you can do better.
2. Talk to interesting people with fascinating stories
Writers of creative fiction and non-fiction alike will find inspiration in colorful, unique, people — who, in one way or another, lie at the foundation of almost all creative writing. Whether you are hoping to expand your horizons, enrich your vocabulary, or help someone tell their story, you can never go wrong by talking to people. Anyone who enters your life, even for a minute, has the potential to make you a better writer, from that homeless veteran to that friend who just had a baby, and from that random stranger you get into a heated discussion with online to the neighbor who always has a bone to pick.
3. Dive into your own past
Unresolved mysteries, family drama, pain, and challenges now overcome can all be counted among the most effective elements of creative writing. At the same time, your own unprocessed memories could be holding you back as a writer. By taking steps to immerse yourself in more difficult periods in your past, you are sure to find solid writing inspiration, as well as perhaps removing roadblocks that have trapped you for far too long.
4. Spend time in nature
While people form one of the basic building blocks of creative writing, nature is another important pillar. Try going hiking or spending the day (or the week) at a lake. At the very least, the change of pace and scenery will refresh you. At best, you could find yourself contemplating the complexity and enormity of the universe — and get a thrilling idea for a new novel or short story.
5. Meet your basic needs
Look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs if you have to. To self-actualize — to feel that you’re doing what you are meant to do, are making a difference, and you can feel good about yourself — you first have to get all your basic self-care needs met. When you’re in the thick of a big creative writing project, some of those are bound to slide.
Have you eaten? Did you drink enough water? Have you slept enough? Do you exercise regularly, and do you at least get up from your desk five minutes once an hour to do some stretching exercises and walk around? Does your room have a comfortable temperature, and do your surroundings support your creative efforts? Do you get enough intellectual and social stimulation? If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, work on that. When you sit down to write, you will discover that everything is easier.
Although the quality of your creative writing depends on a multitude of technical aspects, all your work, ultimately, emerges from your mind. To make sure that your creativity can flow and you’re also able to be semi-objective about your work, allow that proverbial creative sponge to saturate — so that when you squeeze it, your best writing floods out.