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8 Sharp Techniques to Improve Your Creative Writing Skills

8 Sharp Techniques to Improve Your Creative Writing Skills

Good composition skills in any facet of creative writing will take you to amazing heights. You should remember that in order for your creative writing to reap rewards, it should captivate the reader. Your words should be carefully thought out, and they should have meaning. How can you accomplish this? It may take some adapting, but aiming to improve with these tips will never do you harm.

1. Have a Broad Understanding of the Subject

Writing creatively requires a focused approach and broad understanding of the subject in order to create a larger picture for the reader to visualize. You should spend time researching and conducting informational interviews in order to gain this knowledge about the subject. The more knowledge that you have, the more that you are able to convey to the reader through your writing. Oftentimes, writers miss out on painting the larger picture.

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2. Do Something Different

Never be scared of doing something different or unique that will bring your writing to a whole new realm that may be unexpected or out of the ordinary. Oftentimes, this can evolve into something that is different yet amazing—something that readers will enjoy.

How can you achieve this? Think differently and put yourself in environments that are inspiring or relaxing. Sometimes, having no rules is the best way to reach your full potential when it comes to creative writing.

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3. Think of the Three Act Structure

This method is prevalent not only in modern writing, but also in television and film. These “acts” are not distinct from one another, rather they flow seamlessly through the piece.

Setup, confrontation, and resolution. The setup will establish characters, how they relate, and their world. There will be an inciting incident that has an attempted resolution and a turning point. The confrontation will be the central problem with the main character attempting to resolve it with much adversity, turning into a journey. The resolution consists of the climax and the resolution of the problem.

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4. Add Interesting Details about the Setting and Location

Bring your essay to life—literally. Using specific details about settings and locations, readers will be transported into your piece. Literature can be dry if focused only on the hard facts, but can become increasingly interesting when adorned with details about a location or setting. Even the smallest details can prove to have a major impact in creative writing.

5. Extended Metaphors

This is when the writer uses an analogy to explain a complex concept so that the readers may understand it better. Unfamiliar concepts can be explained in a way that is familiar and can be visualized.

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One example of a well-known extended metaphor is when Shakespeare wrote “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!” in Romeo and Juliet.

6. Record Your Ideas

Keep a notebook with you at all times so that you can scribble down any ideas when they come to mind. Inspiration can strike at any hour. Think about your topic when you’re doing mundane tasks or when you are out and about. You’d be surprised at what you’ll think of when you’re out of your working mode.

7. Use Meaningful Dialogue

Meaningful dialogue will demonstrate how the character feels or what they mean by what they are saying. Rather than only including the words that are being spoken, include one or two details about the character that will invoke an image in the reader’s mind about how the person is feeling. Most people know how to write a creative essay, but having meaningful dialogue transforms it into a masterpiece.

8. Create Tension or Conflict

Tension and conflict is created between characters and can be internal or external. You should balance these opposing forces to keep the reader interested in the story and anxious to see how it will be resolved. There are plenty of themes for conflict which include, but are not limited to, high stakes, universality, insight, empathy, surprise, causality, progression, empowerment, and mystery.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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