Before you can become a writer, you must begin to be creative. Of course, it helps if you’re a creative person already.
To some extent, everyone is creative. It’s that little flourish you add when decorating a cake, or when you’re working on even the most simple wooden thing you’re building – but you built it entirely from thinking about it and then grabbing your tools and going for it.
Everyone’s walked away from movies either saying, “what if?” or “What do you think happened to them?” or “Why didn’t they just?” I know a lot of my movie writing motivation ended up being, “They should have… instead!”
Even if you plan on writing a non-fiction book (which oddly enough seems to be more popular than writing a fiction book), to a certain extent you need creativity to be able to do it well. And trust me, I’ve read a lot of really badly written books by both.
So… how do you foster creativity?
It’s a frame of mind that one enters. You train it by habit. One of the things I’ve recommended is a dedicated writing space. If you’re downright stubborn about “Don’t put anything into this space” to everyone else in the house, then after a while just entering that space already has your mind ready to create.
It’s something you develop through exercises. People who don’t know how to write (but want to), I make several recommendations. Play the what if game. “What if a man comes home and…”
Finish that sentence.
Exercise 2 – Take an article, and a noun. Write them down. “The car….”
The car what? Speeds up, slows down, pulls into a parking spot? Or screeches in, stopping with a lurch?
If you’re already self trained in creative writing, those little examples are writing prompts that should foster up an entire little story. Is it a FBI raid on a serial killer? Is it an angry house buyer confronting a crooked Realtor? Is it a pizza delivery guy who’s late habitually because in reality he’s a multi-dimensional traveler, and some kind of monster had him trapped away from the gateway?
Exercise 3 – describe an object. Okay, it looks like a cell phone. But is it really? Could it be a homing beacon for a horde of extra-terrestrial aardvarks, come to destroy the earth? The irony of it if someone is carrying this thing around, then drops it into a toilet by accident! You’re complaining about ruining your cell phone, but you just saved the earth!
One of those things a producer or an editor almost never has to tell a writer is to “Think outside the box.” If you’ve finished something, you’ve already shown you pretty much live outside the box.
Learn to live outside the box. All that “let’s pretend” you did as a child – that’s your only required training. Remember how you did that? Sure you did. Let’s get started.