Creative Writing 101: Five Tips for Collecting Your Thoughts
Creative writing is all about turning ideas into words. First, of course, you must have an idea; something to write about. But unless you know how to put those ideas down into words you can sit there staring at your computer all day and will have nothing to show for it but a blank screen and a headache So how do you bridge the gap? How do you get your ideas out of your head and down on paper in such a way that they will actually make sense to someone else? It begins by learning how to collect your thoughts.
Five Tips for Bridging the Gap between the Idea and the Word
The bridge between the ideas that you have and the words that you write is actually quite simple. It consists of learning how to collect your thoughts. Many people believe that their thoughts and ideas are coherent; that they make sense. And in their minds those ideas may make perfect sense. Unfortunately, there usually comes a time between the having the idea and getting it out on paper that something important gets lost. Somewhere you misplaced the nuances that made your topic so appealing when you first thought about it. The following five tips can help you in collecting your own thoughts and putting them down on paper.
Keep a Writing Journal. Not only should you keep a writing journal, it should stay with you. It doesn’t matter what size. Even a small, pocket-sized notebook will work. And yes, it is an annoyance to always carry a journal around with you. However, being able to record your thoughts as they occur is a lifesaver, especially if you are in the middle of something else; like a meeting or a family activity.
Write Down Everything. It isn’t enough to just have a writing journal; you have to get into the habit of writing everything down. I don’t care if it is just a fleeting thought; you need to write it down. You need to write everything down. Get used to putting your ideas into words and make sure that when you re-read what you have written that it makes sense to you as well. If you look back through your journal and find that you can’t understand what you were talking about, then you need to refine your note taking style.
Re-Write Every Day. At the end of every day you need to go through your journal and take those ideas that you have written and copy them into a working notebook or even type them into your computer. This will not only help to keep your ideas fresh in your head, it will also help you to begin a working copy of your idea; one which you can adjust and adapt as need be.
Be Your Own Worst Critic. It is not enough to simply write your ideas down, nor even enough to re-write your ideas so that they flow smoothly. Sometimes you have to pull the entire structure apart and re-build it from the ground up. Even though the idea may have sounded good the first time you wrote it down, it can always be better! Write and re-write your ideas out until they say exactly what you want them to; until you can see the picture that they paint in your mind.
Use a Sounding Board. It helps to have a sounding board; someone who is willing to read your work and give you their unbiased opinion. It is not this person’s job to edit your work. You simply want their reaction to how the words sound; what sort of picture that it paints in their head. If you do not have a friend or acquaintance who is willing to serve as a sounding board for you, there are many websites out there that allow you to post your work and have readers critique it for you. This is invaluable in learning how to fine tune your writing.
The Benefits of Learning How to Collect Your Thoughts
Learning how to collect your thoughts and being able to bridge the gap between the idea and actually expressing the idea is a daunting task. But by using five tips listed above you can go from simply having an idea to being able to share that idea with others in a way that they will be able to understand.