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Last updated on Dec 23, 2022

Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started

Creative writing is a written art form that uses the imagination to tell stories and compose essays, poetry, screenplays, novels, lyrics, and more. It can be defined in opposition to the dry and factual types of writing found in academic, technical, or journalistic texts.

Characterized by its ability to evoke emotion and engage readers, creative writing can tackle themes and ideas that one might struggle to discuss in cold, factual terms.

If you’re interested in the world of creative writing, we have eight fantastic exercises and activities to get you started.

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1. Use writing prompts every week

Illustration of a writer getting ready for a creative writing contest

Coming up with ideas for short stories can be challenging, which is why we created a directory of 1700+ creative writing prompts covering a wide range of genres and topics. Writing prompts are flexible in nature, they are meant to inspire you without being too constrictive. Overall, they are a great way to keep your creative muscles limber.

Example of Reedsy's Creative Writing Prompts

If you’re struggling for motivation, how does a hard deadline and a little prize money sound? Prompts-based writing contests are a fantastic way to dive into creative writing: the combination of due dates, friendly rivalries, prize money, and the potential to have your work published is often just what’s needed to propel you over the finish line. 

We run a weekly writing contest over on Reedsy Prompts, where hundreds of writers from all around the world challenge themselves weekly to write a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words for a chance to win the $250 prize. Furthermore, the community is very active in providing constructive feedback, support, and accountability to each other 一 something that will make your efforts even more worthwhile.

Take a peek at our directory of writing contests which features some of the most prestigious open writing competitions in the world. 

2. Start journaling your days

Illustration of a writer journaling in autumn

Another easy way to get started with creative writing is to keep a journal. We’re not talking about an hour-by-hour account of your day, but journaling as a way to express yourself without filters and find your ‘voice in writing’. If you’re unsure what to journal about, think of any daily experiences that have had an impact on you, such as… 

Special moments . Did you lock yourself out of your house? Or did you catch a beautiful sunset on your way back from groceries? Capture those moments, and how you felt about them.

People . Did you have an unusual exchange with a stranger at the bar? Or did you reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years? Share your thoughts about it.

World events . Is there something happening in the world right now that is triggering you? That’s understandable. You can reflect on it (and let some steam off) while journaling.

Memories . Did you go down memory lane after a glass of wine? Great, honor those memories by trying to recollect them in detail on paper so that they will always stay vivid in your mind.

Life decisions . Are you having an existential crisis about what to do with your life? Write down your thought process, and the pros and cons of the possible decisions in front of you. You’ll be surprised to discover that, not only is it a great creative writing exercise, but it can also actually help you sort your life out! 

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3. Create an anonymous social media account

Illustration of a writer thinking

Like anonymous blogging, an incognito Twitter account sidesteps the pressure that comes with attaching your name to your work. Anonymously putting tiny stories out into the ether gives you the freedom to create without worrying about the consequences — which is great, so long as you don’t use it as an opportunity to troll people or spread conspiracy theories. 

You could use the anonymous account in different ways. For example, you could…

  • Tweet from unique points of view (e.g. a dog observing human behavior );
  • Create a parody account of real or fictional people (e.g. an English poet from the Middle Ages );
  • Challenge yourself to write tiny flash fiction stories that fit into Twitter threads.

Just remember, you’re not doing this to fool anyone into thinking that your account is real: be a good citizen and mark yourself a fiction account in your bio. 

How to Start Creative Writing | Screenshot of a tweet by the Twitter account

But if you’re not really a social media kinda person, you may enjoy our next tip, which is a bit more on the analog side.



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4. Find an old photo and tell its story

Illustration of a photo-inspired journaling exercise

Find a random old photo — maybe on the web, maybe from a photo album in a yard sale — and see what catches your attention. Look closely at it and try to imagine the story behind it. What was happening? Who are the people in it and how are they really feeling? Do they share a relationship, and of what kind? What are their goals and dreams?

In other words, bring the photo to life with your imagination. Don't be afraid to take artistic license with your story, as the goal is to be creative and have fun while writing. 

How do you know it’s creative writing?

Creative Writing | info card listing 5 headers below

5. Create a character from a random name

Illustration of a young poet and a warrior back to back

Just as our universe started from a few simple elements, you can create a character from a few basic information, like their name, culture, and gender. Reedsy’s handy character name generator can help you with that, offering random names based on archetypes, Medieval roots, fantasy traits and more. A few examples? A Celtic heroine named Fíona O'Keefe, a hero’s sidekick named Aderine, or a Korean track star named Park Kang-Dae.

Once you've chosen their name, begin to develop their personality. Set a timer for 5–10 minutes and write anything that comes to mind about them. It could be a page from their FBI dossier, a childhood diary entry, or simply a scene about them boiling an egg.

Just ‘go with the flow’ and don’t stop writing until your time is up. Repeat the process a few times to further hone the personality. If you like what you end up with, you can always go deeper later with our character profile template . 

If a stream-of-consciousness exercise is not your thing, you can try to imagine your character in a specific situation and write down how’d they respond to it. For example, what if they were betrayed by a friend? Or if they were elected in power? To help you imagine situations to put your character in, we made a free template that you can download below. 



Reedsy’s Character Questionnaire

40 questions to help you develop memorable characters.

6. Construct a character by people-watching

A writer observing a person and taking notes

People watching is “the action of spending time idly observing people in a public place.” In a non-creepy way, ideally. Sit on a bench on a public square or on a road-side table at your favorite café, and start observing the people around you. Pay attention to any interesting quirks or behaviors, and write it down. Then put on your detective’s hat and try to figure out what that tells you about them.

For example, the man at the table next to you at the restaurant is reading the newspaper. His jacket and hat are neatly arranged next to him. The pages make a whipping sound as he briskly turns them, and he grimaces every time he reads a new article. Try to imagine what he’s reading, and why he’s reacting the way he is. Then, try to build a character with the information you have. It’s a fun creative exercise that will also, hopefully, help you better empathize with strangers. 

7. “Map” something you feel strongly about into a new context

Illustration of a young romance writer

Placing your feelings into new contexts can be a powerful creative writing exercise. The idea is to start from something you feel strongly about, and frame it into a completely different context. 

For example, suppose your heart is torn apart after you divorce your life-long partner: instead of journaling or writing a novel about it, you could tell a story about a legendary trapeze duo whose partnership has come to an end. If you’re struggling with politicking and petty power dynamics at the office: what if you “mapped” your feelings onto an ant who resents being part of a colony? Directing your frustration at a queen ant can be a fun and cathartic writing experience (that won’t get you in trouble if your co-workers end up reading your story).   

8. Capture the moment with a haiku

Illustration of a haiku poet inspired by the four seasons

Haikus are poems from the Japanese tradition that aim to capture, in a few words, daily moments of insight (usually inspired by nature). In a nutshell, it’s about becoming mindful of your surroundings, and notice if you can see something in a new or deeper way 一 then use contrasting imagery to express whatever you noticed. 

Here’s an example:

Bright orange bicycle

Speeding through the autumn leaves

A burst of color waves

It may sound a bit complicated, but it shouldn’t be 一 at least not for the purpose of this exercise. Learn the basics of haiku-writing , then challenge yourself to write one per day for a week or month. At the end, you’ll be able to look back at your collection of poems and 一 in the worst case scenario 一 revisit small but significant moments that you would have otherwise forgot about.   

Creative writing can be any writing you put your heart and soul into. It could be made for the purpose of expressing your feelings, exploring an idea, or simply entertaining your readers. As you can see there’s many paths to get involved with it, and hundreds of exercises you can use as a starting point. In the next post, we’ll look more in detail at some creative writing examples from some fellow authors. 

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Creative Primer

What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer’s Toolbox

Brooks Manley

As we delve into the world of writing, it becomes apparent that not all writing is the same. One form that stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination is creative writing. This section will explore the question, “ what is creative writing ” and highlight its key characteristics.

Definition of Creative Writing

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as poetry, novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, and more. It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way. It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing one’s creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share one’s perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces. For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , one must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques. The styles we’ll explore in this section are poetry , short stories , novels , screenplays , and plays .

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.


Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing. For those interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you. For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits, including developing creativity and imagination , enhancing communication skills , and exploring emotions and ideas .

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages individuals to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This can lead to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview, both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively.

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as writers often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This can lead to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings, allowing writers to express themselves in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping individuals process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into their own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery, helping writers to understand themselves and the world around them better.

In conclusion, the importance of creative writing extends beyond the realm of literature and academia. It fosters creativity, enhances communication skills, and provides a platform for self-expression and exploration. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start with creative writing .

Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining the main points, characters, settings, and plot. This can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process.

Remember, a plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper. You can always refine and polish your work later.

And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling. You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Reading Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques. Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practicing Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice. Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attending Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like.

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing.

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree . Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

how to get started with creative writing

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

Here’s my favorite journal for 2024: 

the five minute journal

Gratitude Journal Prompts Mindfulness Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Anxiety Reflective Journal Prompts Healing Journal Prompts Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Journal Prompts Mental Health Journal Prompts ASMR Journal Prompts Manifestation Journal Prompts Self-Care Journal Prompts Morning Journal Prompts Evening Journal Prompts Self-Improvement Journal Prompts Creative Writing Journal Prompts Dream Journal Prompts Relationship Journal Prompts "What If" Journal Prompts New Year Journal Prompts Shadow Work Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Overcoming Fear Journal Prompts for Dealing with Loss Journal Prompts for Discerning and Decision Making Travel Journal Prompts Fun Journal Prompts

Inspiring Ink: Expert Tips on How to Teach Creative Writing

You may also like, how to get started journaling: the complete beginner’s guide.

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POSTED ON Dec 28, 2022

Gloria Russell

Written by Gloria Russell

I don’t know about you, but when I start learning a new skill, I want to know everything about it right away. How do I get started? What do I need to get started? How could this new skill transform my life?

Being an incessant researcher of new pastimes, I love a good master post. So, I’ve made one today for one of my favorite things in the world: creative writing .

I wrote this for people who are just getting into creative writing, but even if you’ve been writing for a while, stay tuned—some of the tricks and resources in this post will be helpful for you, too.

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What is creative writing?

Creative writing examples, how to start creative writing, creative writing prompts, creative writing jobs, creative writing degrees, online creative writing courses.

Creative writing is imaginative writing. It’s meant to entertain its readers and get some emotional response from them. You’ll note that I said imaginative , but I didn’t say fictional writing, because while fiction is a subcategory of creative writing, it doesn’t define creative writing. All fiction is creative writing, but not all creative writing is fiction.

While technical, legal, or academic writing might be focused on conveying information in the most efficient and clear manner possible, the goal of creative writing is slightly different. You still want to communicate effectively and clearly, but you also want to put some pep in there. Creative writing uses tools like metaphor and imagery to evoke an image, emotion, or both from the reader.

Another way to look at it: if you were to say what makes creative writing distinct as a form, you could say it’s the artsy one.

Creative writing covers more than just fiction, or even just novels . Here’s a quick rundown of some types of creative writing you might encounter.

Novels (which fall under the ‘fiction’ umbrella) are a type of creative writing where the reader follows a character or characters through a plot. A novel might be a standalone, or it might be part of a series.

Example: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

2. Short Stories

Short stories (which also fall under the ‘fiction’ umbrella) follow a character through a plot, like you’d see in a novel, but short stories are, well, shorter. Generally, short stories run between 1,000 and 10,000 words, with works under 1,000 words falling under the subcategory ‘flash fiction.’

Example: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Poetry is a form of writing which focuses heavily on imagery, metaphor, symbolism, and other figurative tools. It also involves a lot of technical work with form; meter and rhythm are commonly used to enhance meaning. You can generally tell what poems are by looking at them, since they’re usually divided into groups of lines (stanzas) instead of paragraphs, like you might see in other forms of creative writing.

Example: Little Beast by Richard Siken

Related: Where to Publish Poetry

Plays are written for the stage. They include stage direction, brief scene descriptions, and character dialogue, but there’s often not a lot of prose. Plays are intended to be watched by an audience instead of read, so whatever prose exists, it is intended for the people participating in the play.

Example: Hamlet by Shakespeare

Songs are similar to poetry in terms of their structure and use of figurative language, but songs are meant to be performed. People don’t generally read song lyrics without listening to it, and the instrumentation and production often enhance the meaning of a song. Songwriters also use music theory to play with meaning—at a basic level, for example, minor chords generally convey sadness, while major chords generally convey happiness.

Example: Let it Be by the Beatles

6. Memoirs & Personal Essays

Memoirs and personal essays are a form of creative writing where an author draws on their real lived experience to create a narrative. Memoir specifically sometimes plays with chronological order and specific technical fact in favor of symbolic resonance—the author is getting at an emotional truth rather than a literal or objective truth.

Example: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

7. Journaling

Not everyone uses journaling as a creative writing exercise—some people want to log their daily activities and be done with it—but if you’ve ever poured your heart out about a breakup to the nonjudgmental pages of a notebook, you’ve probably already done some creative writing!

Want to find more examples? I wrote on this topic for another site, and it includes even more examples of creative writing for you to try.

Now that you know what creative writing looks like, let’s talk about how to get started, even if you’ve never practiced creative writing before.

1. Try stuff on until something fits

Take a look at the list above (or do a Google search for ‘types of creative writing’ and see if there’s anything else you might be interested in—I won’t be offended) and pick one that seems fun. If you want to try, for example, a screenplay, but you’re not sure how to write one, read a bunch. Get a feel for how they work.

Maybe you do that and decide you don't want to write screenplays after all. Okay! Try short stories. Try poetry. Try songwriting. Practicing different forms will make you a more well-rounded writer in the long run, and you might be surprised at what resonates with you.

2. Practice, practice, practice

Once you’ve found a form or a few forms that suit you, your job as a newbie is simple: practice. Write whatever you want as often as you can and, if possible, for your eyes only. Create a relationship between yourself and your craft.

Some say you should start with short stories before jumping into novels so you can practice completing narrative arcs. That might work great! But if you hate writing short stories, just practice with writing novels.

If you have an idea that feels a little too advanced for you, that’s probably what you should be working on, since it’ll teach you a lot about the craft along the way. Don’t be intimidated, and don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions (this includes any fretting about publishing). Your singular goal here is to create, and your secondary goal is to challenge yourself.

3. Join some kind of writerly group

But hold on, you might be thinking. How do I know I’m not getting worse the more I practice? How do I know I’m not just churning out garbage?

At some point, especially if your goal is to publish , you’ll want feedback on your work. And while it’s important to have the support of your loved ones, it’s also important to get feedback from other writers.

I do not recommend sending your very first manuscript to an editor or well-established writer for feedback—their feedback, generally aimed at moderate to advanced writers, is probably going to devastate you at the fledgling stage. I do recommend finding other writers at approximately your skill level to bounce ideas off of and exchange critiques. These other writers can be found online or at local writing circles—check your local public library for creative writing workshops.

Have you picked out a form of creative writing to try, but you just can’t come up with any ideas? Try using a creative writing prompt to get those creative gears turning. These are totally for you to use however is most helpful: use the prompt as-is, tweak it a little, whatever works.

Prompts are a great way to explore different types of tones in writing and hone your own personal style as an author!

Use this FREE tool: Writing Prompts Generator

Looking to make some money with your creative writing endeavors? Here’s a few options to kickstart your job search:


As a ghostwriter, your job is to write the story your client assigns you . This might be a fictional novel, or it might be a memoir. The client often has specific requests for content, length, and so on. The catch? Your name is not on the book. You’re not allowed to say that you wrote it—the client’s name or pen name usually goes on the author line. You can find ghostwriting gigs on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.

Marketing does involve some technical elements like copywriting, but creative writers have a place in marketing, too. Brands need catchy slogans, funny commercials, and even social media gurus to run entertaining Twitter accounts. For more ideas on how to market your upcoming book , check out our post on the topic.

Columnist/Blog Writer

You can also look for work as an op-ed columnist or blog writer. This might be something you do for an existing website, or it might be a blog you start from scratch on Wix, SquareSpace, or Tumblr.

You might have heard of people getting creative writing degrees, or at least you might have heard some of the discourse surrounding these degrees. Off the bat, I want to say that you don’t need a creative writing degree to be a writer. It doesn’t make you a ‘real’ writer, and it doesn’t indicate your seriousness toward the craft.

If you do want to get a creative writing degree, though, you’re looking (broadly) at two options:

Undergraduate writing programs

This is your BFA in creative writing. Not all colleges offer them—many (like my alma mater) offer a creative writing concentration or focus as part of an English degree. So you might graduate, hypothetically, for example, with a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. Some colleges don’t offer a major, but they do offer minors.

Check to see what sorts of courses your college or prospective college offers. Do you have to be an English major to take their creative writing course? Does their creative writing course offer guidance in the type of creative writing you want to pursue? For example, my alma mater offered a creative writing concentration with two tracks, one for fiction and one for poetry. There was also a separate film studies concentration for aspiring screenplay writers and film students.

Graduate writing programs (a.k.a., the MFA)

MFA programs can be extremely competitive and prohibitively expensive, not to mention that you’re obviously not guaranteed to come out of them a better writer. They can be a great tool, but they’re not a necessary one. Look at it this way: are you willing to get this MFA if it means you might come out of it without a successfully published novel? If so, proceed.

If you want to pursue an MFA, do your research. Don’t go straight for the Iowa Writers Workshop application page and hope for the best—investigate the universities that look appealing to you, see if your interests align with theirs, and make that application fee count.

Going to college isn’t the only way to take classes on creative writing! If you’re looking for more cost-friendly options, the Internet is your friend. I’ve linked to a few places loaded with creative writing courses to get you started.

1. Intelligent.com: The Best 10 Online Creative Writing Courses

2. Coursera: Best Creative Writing Courses and Certifications

3. Self-Publishing School: Best Self-Publishing Courses

4. Our Programs: Fiction Write Your Book Program

Are you ready to try an online creative writing course? Are you ready to start some creative writing prompts? Or, are you think you're ready to go for a full creative writing project of your own? Here is a resource to help you get started:

how to get started with creative writing


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8 Creative Writing Tips and Techniques

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Hannah Yang

creative writing tips

Table of Contents

What is creative writing, forms of creative writing, top 8 creative writing tips, how to get better at creative writing.

Creative writing transcends the realms of technical, business, and academic writing and focuses on elements such as plot, creative development, and narrative structure.

There’s no set formula for creative writing , but there are ways you can improve your writing technique.

If you want to learn more about creative writing , keep reading as we discuss what creative writing is, its various forms, and tips on how to get started.

creative writing definition

Creative writing is a style of writing that is focused on expressing the writer’s imagination and creativity.

Creative writing often involves the creation of fictional or nonfictional works that go beyond the formal, professional, and traditional styles of writing. This type of writing allows writers to express themselves in a more personal and original way.

What Do You Do in Creative Writing? 

Creative writing gives writers the opportunity to be original and express themselves. It involves the use of literary techniques and devices to tell a story or to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.

There are many different forms of creative writing, such as novels, poems, screenplays, and even songs.

The main goal of creative writing is to entertain, inspire, or convey an idea or message to the reader. It is a form of self-expression that allows the writer to explore their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

It can also be a way for writers to explore new ideas, to entertain and inspire readers, and to share their perspectives and experiences with others. 

Ultimately, the purpose of creative writing is to connect with the reader on a deep level and to leave a lasting impression.

how to get started with creative writing

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Creative writing is an expressive form of writing that takes many forms and styles. Let’s look at a few examples of creative writing forms.

Fiction Writing

Fiction involves the creation of imaginary characters, settings, and plots. You can write fiction in many different genres, such as mystery, romance, fantasy, and more.

You can also write fiction in any length you want. For example, flash fiction is shorter than 1,000 words, while the average novel is around 90,000 words.

Poetry is a type of creative writing that uses expressive language. Poets use techniques such as rhyme, meter, and figurative language to create meaning and convey emotions and ideas.

Poems come in many different forms. You can try writing a haiku, a sonnet, a free-verse poem, or any other poetic structure that appeals to you.


A screenplay tells a story through the medium of film or television. It includes descriptions of characters, settings, and actions, as well as dialogue and stage directions.

A play is meant to be performed on stage. It includes dialogue, stage directions, and descriptions of characters and settings. Plays can be a powerful way to engage the audience’s emotions and imagination to convey complex themes.

Songs are a musical expression of creative writing . Songs can be written in a variety of genres, such as pop, rock, folk, hip-hop, and more. They can be written to express a wide range of emotions and ideas, from love and heartbreak to social and political issues.

Graphic novels

A graphic novel is a type of creative writing that combines text and illustrations to tell a story. It can be a work of fiction or nonfiction and can be written in a variety of genres.

Nonfiction Writing

Creative writing is typically associated with fiction, but there are nonfiction works that fall under the creative categories, too. These nonfiction works deal with real events, people, and ideas. Creative nonfiction can take the form of personal essays, memoirs, biographies, or even news articles.

creative writing tips list

There’s no scientific formula for creative writing . It all comes down to your own self-expression and the limitlessness of your imagination. However, there are a few creative writing techniques you can use in your next writing.

Here are eight ways you can improve your creative writing skills.

1. Find Inspiration

The first step for any creative writing project is to find your inspiration. This can come from a variety of sources, such as your own life experiences, your interests and passions, or even something as simple as a newspaper article or a conversation with a friend.

Take some time to think about what inspires you, and use that as the foundation for your writing.

2. Read Widely

To be a good creative writer, you need to be a good reader. Reading widely exposes you to different styles, genres, and techniques, and it can help you develop your own voice as a writer.

You’ll get to learn from a variety of authors, and you may discover new ways of structuring a story, creating compelling characters, or using language in a way that resonates with readers.

So read widely, and don’t be afraid to try out new genres or authors.

3. Try Freewriting

Freewriting is a writing exercise in which the writer allows their thoughts and inspiration to flow onto the page without any prescribed structure or editorial oversight.

It involves letting the mind wander and following the impulses of your subconscious, allowing you to tap into your creativity and explore new ideas.

While the first time you try freewriting you may end up with mostly unusable material, with practice, it can help you refine your writing style and unleash your creativity.

4. Write Often

The more you write, the better you’ll be. By writing every day, you’ll develop a habit that will make it easier to sit down and write even when you don’t want to.

Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, use that time to jot down some ideas or work on a scene. 

5. Use Literary Devices

Literary devices are techniques writers use to add depth, interest, and emotion to their writing. By using these devices, you can create vivid imagery, convey complex ideas, and engage the reader’s emotions in a way that goes beyond simple storytelling.

For example, you can use descriptive language to paint a picture of a character’s appearance, which allows readers to feel like they are truly immersed in the story. Other literary devices include symbols, allegory, emotional language, metaphors, and similes.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, incorporating these techniques into your writing can help you craft more compelling and engaging stories.

6. Get Feedback

Getting feedback from other people helps you improve your creative writing skills.

Sometimes it feels intimidating to share your work, especially when you’re new to creative writing, but it’s a crucial step to help you progress.

Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your work and tell you what they think. Alternatively, you can attend a workshop for writers, where you can get more targeted feedback.

You can also join writing communities to meet like-minded creative writers. Spaces such as ProWritingAid’s Community allow writers to come together and support each other in their writing journey. You’ll get access to feedback and constructive criticism on different aspects of your writing, such as plot, character development, setting, and language use.

7. Edit Your Work

The editing process is an essential part of creative writing . Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s important to continue making changes to your work, whether it’s cutting unnecessary words, reworking a scene, or adding details.

Many successful creative writers suggest editing after you’ve finished writing so it doesn’t interrupt your creative flow.

Editing can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it to produce the best work possible. You can use an editing software like ProWritingAid to show you where you can improve your writing.

ProWritingAid goes beyond just correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues by also showing you style improvement suggestions. Plus, if you’re looking to improve your creative writing skills, you can use ProWritingAid to compare your work to your favorite authors.

8. Have Fun

Creative writing is all about originality and self-expression, so above all, have fun with your writing. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and to take things too seriously, but it’s important to remember that writing is supposed to be enjoyable. 

So relax, let your creativity flow, and have fun with it.

Creative writing is a form of self-expression that allows you to use your imagination and creativity to share your ideas and thoughts in a unique way.

Venturing into creative writing can be intimidating at first, but remember that you’ll get better with practice.

Take time to read widely, try writing exercises, and gather feedback on your work. Don’t be afraid to join creative writing communities so you can access support in your writing journey. 

And above all, remember: there’s no limit to your creativity. 

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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Writers' Treasure

Effective writing advice for aspiring writers

  • How to Get Started in Creative Writing in Just Three Steps
  • Creative Writing Tips

For reference, look at Daily Writing Tips’ awesome article Creative Writing 101 . There are quite a few steps given there. I will be adding my own touches to them.

So, without any further ado, here are the three steps for you to climb and emerge as victor (sorry, couldn’t resist it).

Know the Genres and Subgenres of Creative Writing

It might not seem important now, but if you know the genres and subgenres of creative writing, you’ve done yourself a great service. Why? Because many great authors specialize in one big broad genre such as fiction or poetry or non-fiction. That is why… you see that great novelists write only novels, great short-story writers write only short stories, great poets only write poetry and so on. You don’t want to become “Jack of all trades; master of none.” And you can only specialize by knowing all of them.

Note : Now, of course, there are exceptions. Some novelists do write short stories and vice versa. But these types of authors are not common; they are rare. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t step outside of your broad genre and be afraid to experiment with other ones, it’s just to say that you should, first and foremost, go with the one you like most.

So do yourself a favour and read on the creative writing genres. They’re all known, of course. Fiction is branched into four sub-genres, of which only two are really popular: novels, novelettes, novellas and short-stories.

If you want to dig under the surface, you will find more and more sub-genres. Stories under 1000 words are called micro-fiction. Recently a new type of sub-genre has come into light: Twitter fiction , fiction of 140 characters. The people who make such fiction must be talented, because I can’t seem to close up a story under 1000 words. Concise writing , of course, is the issue.

Then there is poetry . I don’t write any poetry now, because I find it harder than writing fiction and hence I specialized and chose fiction as my broad genre. There are many sub-genres under poetry. Sonnet, haiku, ballad, tanka, pantoum, roundel, etc. My head hurts just looking at so many forms. Wow.

Creative Non-fiction . It’s strange that non-fiction is a part of creative writing, but then, as goes a saying, the truth is sometimes better than fiction. Memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, essays and journals, etc are all part of non-fiction.

Pick Out Your Own Genre

This is sometimes easy work, and sometimes hard work. It took me nearly a year to find out my own genre: writing fiction. Before I was experimenting with all forms without success and in vain (yeah they say the same thing). As soon as I started writing only fiction, my writing improved.

Every writer has his own genre of which he seeks to become the master of. It shouldn’t necessarily be fiction or a popular form. It can be as obscure as can be. Only enjoyment should be gained out of it, at least at the beginning. (You’re free to make money from it if you’re really good enough!)

It might be fun sometimes to step out of your genre and write something fun. I tried this with essays and it was a success. But remember that you should first write inside your genre and then after some time do what you like.

Start Writing (Regularly)

If you don’t know how to write for a period of time, check out the Daily Writing Tips article . Their idea of notebooks and finding ideas works for me.

It doesn’t matter whether you write once a day or a week or a month or anything else. Your writing should not be set on a schedule in which you can’t match your other work. “Write Every Day” is outdated advice now… the newer and better advice is “Write Regularly as much as you can inside your genre.” If you continue the practice… you should start seeing results. Never break off from your work. I tried it one time and the results were not uplifting. It took me a whole month to get back to my earlier standard.

Bottom line is: just write (regularly), and you’re started in creative writing! You can say with pride, “I’m a writer.” Just write. That’s it.

But what’s the purpose?

If your purpose is to get published and make money from your writing straight away, I’m sorry to say that you will be bitterly disappointed. Even the best authors’ first novels were proper garbage (not my words; their words) unless they were edited previously. So you might as well give up creative writing if you only want the money.

But if your purpose is to enjoy your ride and perfect your writing and just be pleased by writing, then you are welcome inside the camp of writers. You’re a writer. So you might just as well do—do what?—write.

Tomorrow we will look into the differences between creative writing and technical writing .

This post is the second instalment in the series “Creative Writing 101.”

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Further reading:.

  • Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Creative Writing

19 thoughts on “How to Get Started in Creative Writing in Just Three Steps”

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I am trying to become a writer, and I am in the midst of struggling through a bumpy point right now. I am seeking outlets, other kindred spirits to connect with in order to get into focus with my plans. I am online regularly, seeking information and outlets……

when writing express yourself through your thougt, imagination,feeling or emotion. if it is something on history you make some research work. feel free to write without thinking of what people may say it is your work

I love to see my thoughts turn into words. But for some reason I cannot seem to write any story, just general writing I know and understand. I also have a hugh problem with, what is called, grammar!

I just want to write better to be understood. I have my own writing style because of my serious problem with english grammar, so I created my own way of understanding english grammar.

The logic of the words within the sentence, sentence structure and of course editing. How much do you charge for your service? [email protected]

I love to write my thoughts down, I also have a bad time with grammar. How much do you charge? [email protected]

I’m sorry, I don’t see the point of “picking your own genre”. You don’t really give a reason for this point, other than saying: “As soon as I started writing only fiction, my writing improved.” While I don’t doubt that this is true, it is merely your own personal experience. If I enjoy writing several different genres, why shouldn’t I switch between all of them equally? A bit more explanation on this point would be appreciated, thank you.

Well as they said, “Jack of all Trades, master of none”, it is better to find what you work with best rather than play around with all the genres willy nilly, because using the genre you are best with, will allow you to convey what you want to say more easily and your focus will be on being creative rather than actually trying to figure out how to write a short story or a novel, etc. Similar to how an Artist will stick with particular mediums, Watercolour is far different to Oil paints and so the Artist will stay with they are familiar with, the best way to convey what they feel.

The quoted phrase actually originated as “Jack of all trades, master of none; but better than master of one”, the last bit just being dropped for ease and eventually forgotten and misinterpreted.

Hi haven’t you heard they say little knowledge is dangerous. it is true for the point you are trying to make, since it is never easy for anyone to master a number of genres equally, except to master them all equally poorly. the best thing is what’s been said above; pick your genre and be an expert in it and leave the rest to whom who can make the best out of them.

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those worried about grammar , i think if you read and write more often ….you are likely to improve your grammar

writing down raw thoughts,ideas ,emotions does work .you may refine it later ,but the raw idea in itself is half the work.

regular writing helps one to express ideas more clearly i also think what drives you to write determines the quality of work if you are doing it to get published , you put yourself under pressure you will constantly feel inadequate

I like creative writing but I don’t how to start, please I want someone to guide me how to write please thank you

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10 ways to write an objective book review 10 ways to write an objective book review.

This is a guest article by Richard Nolan. If you want to submit a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines .

If you are to write a book review, you definitely want to get some ideas on how to make it effective without spending too much time. You have already defined why exactly you need that: to reach out the publishers, to create an academic paper , or to write a blog post .

Whatever the reasons you have, the approach to writing a review is almost the same. However, if you create a review for your own book, you may skip some of the points, like reading the book as you have been working on it and know its content better than anyone.


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Creative Non-Fiction: What is it? Creative Non-Fiction: What is it?

1. An Introduction to Creative Writing 2. How to Get Started in Creative Writing in Just Three Step s 3. Creative Writing vs. Technical Writing 4. Fiction Writing 101: The Elements of Stories 5. Poetry Writing: Forms and Terms Galore

Hence we advance to creative nonfiction. What is it? It’s just writing which is true, but which also contains some creativity. Creative nonfiction differs from other nonfiction because a certain amount of creativity is needed to write in it, as for example a biography. It uses literary styles and techniques to create factually correct narratives, says Wikipedia.

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The Best Way of Writing a Compelling Opening Chapter The Best Way of Writing a Compelling Opening Chapter

“Help!” someone cried out. “Get me out of this! My leg’s fractured! Is anyone there? Help!”

“Who was that?” Victor said.

A terrible noise came from a mansion. Hammering on doors could be heard. Screams echoed in the area.

“Sounds like he’s in trouble,” Dave replied, worried.

“Fractured? How? Why?”

“Let’s find out.”

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  • Creative journaling
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  • Story starters
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  • For teachers

How to Start Creative Writing

Below, you'll find an introduction to creative writing and a guide to getting started. For more advanced topics, please use the menu at the top of the website.

How to Start Creative Writing - Topics

What is creative writing.

woman with book, representing creative writing

Creative writing is an art form using written language. It can be a means of self-discovery, as well as a chance to make something beautiful and touch readers' emotions. It gives you the power to create whole worlds from your imagination. If you love books, creative writing is a way to join the authors you admire in a literary tradition.

Types of creative writing

Here are some common types of creative writing.

man reading in lake

1. Short stories

Writing short stories is a great way to learn the craft of fiction. The brevity of the form allows you to experiment with lots of different types of stories and storytelling approaches. A short story can achieve a kind of magic trick, creating the illusion of a complete, detailed world in a very small space.

Writing a novel offers the pleasures of a large, absorbing project. You get to spend months or even years inside your story, which can become like a parallel life that you're living.

Writing poetry lets you work with language on many levels. Beyond the surface meaning of the words, you can use their sound, rhythm, and even the way they look on the page to create emotional effects in readers. Poetry includes traditional forms like the sonnet , along with free verse and prose poems.

4. Creative nonfiction

This includes memoirs and personal essays, where you write about your own experiences. Creative nonfiction is a way to preserve and explore your memories and share your unique perspective on the world.

Dramatic writing includes playwriting and screenwriting. It's not just about Broadway and Hollywood -- imagine the thrill of seeing your work performed in community theaters, schools, or other amateur productions. 

Elements of creative writing

woman and beagle looking at open book

Important elements of creative writing include:

You can make your writing vivid by including details that speak to the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

A scene is a sequence of events depicted 'in real time,' featuring play-by-play action and/or dialogue, and often including descriptive details.

 A setting is the specific place and historical time where a scene happens; for example, present-day Brooklyn, or 17th century Versailles.

4. Characters

Stories, novels, and plays are normally about made-up characters that readers can come to care about. Many memoirs are written like true stories where the author is the main character.

5. Point of view

Many stories are written from the perspective of a particular character. Readers feel as if they're inside that character's head, watching the story's action through the character's eyes.

6. Dialogue

Dialogue is where you represent conversations by directly quoting characters' words. Playwriting and screenwriting rely heavily on dialogue.

The voice that tells a story is called the "narrator," while the voice in a poem is the "speaker." You can write using your own voice or adopt the voice of a fictional character.

This is the sequence of events that happen in a story, novel, or dramatic work. The central thread of most plots is the character's struggle to overcome a problem or reach a goal.

The theme is a central idea that underlies a piece of writing. A theme isn't something you have to consciously "put into" a story. It's often better to focus on your character and their struggle, and let the story's theme evolve naturally.

Pacing refers to the speed at which the story seems to unfold. You can use pacing to shape the reader's experience; for example, slowing the story at key moments to create suspense.

The rhythm and flow of language affects a reader's experience and is particularly important in poetry. Some poetry uses meter , rhythmic patterns based on stressed and unstressed syllables.

Poems often make use of repeated sounds, including rhyme. Many traditional poetic forms use rhyme schemes , while free verse might use sporadic rhymes to create emotional effects.

How to start creative writing

woman reading under umbrella

The best way to get started is to just dive right in! Go ahead and write something!

If you've never written a story or poem before, that's okay. The only way to learn how to do it is by actually doing it.

Don't worry about doing it wrong. You won't break anything! If you don't like what you write, you can always improve it later. Or you can put it away and try something else.

The more you write, the better you'll get!

How to start writing a story

Want to start writing a story? Here's one approach to try.

1) Imagine a character and a problem that the character has to deal with. The problem will give your character something to do in your story.

2) Imagine a step the character might take to try to solve their problem. What would happen next? Daydream the scene from your character's perspective as vividly as possible.

3) Capture your daydream on the page. During the first draft, don't worry about choosing the right words or writing nice sentences. You can fix everything later, during the revision.

How to start writing a memoir

A lot of people want to write about their memories but feel overwhelmed by the problem of how to organize everything. An easy solution is to choose one vivid or important memory and just write about that. Try to recreate the memory on the page as vividly as you can.

If you write a lot of short pieces about separate memories, you might start to see patterns and get ideas for piecing them together into a book-length memoir. Or, you might decide to publish the short pieces as essays.

How to start writing a poem

There's no right or wrong way to write a poem, but you can try this approach.

1) Choose a subject for your poem. It can help to get really specific about this. For example, instead of writing a poem about "anger" or "love", you might focus on a particular moment when you were angry, or a specific gesture of love.

2) Concentrate on your subject. Explore it from different angles, searching for aspects of it that might not obvious at first glance. For example, if you're writing about a tree, closely examine that tree. What makes it different from other trees? What parts of it are hidden under the ground? What does it smell like? What does it remind you of?

3) Quickly write down the ideas that occur to you.

4) Once you have a rough draft of your poem, you can start playing with the language, experimenting with sound and rhythm and the way the words are arranged on the page.

15 creative writing ideas

woman reading on beach

Here are some exciting creative writing exercises to try.

1) Write a modern version of a fairy tale or myth. Give it a new twist.

2) Write a haiku, a short unrhymed poem with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third line. You can learn more about haiku poetry and read examples here .

3) Challenge yourself to write a complete story in exactly 100 words. You can find tips on ultra-short stories here.

4) The sense of smell is closely tied to memory. Choose a smell to use as inspiration for a memoir or a poem. What memories does that smell bring back?

5) Use a painting or another piece of art to inspire a poem or a story.

6) Listen to a piece of music that you find moving. What images does it bring to mind? Write a poem that tries to capture the mood and feeling of the music. Or, if the song has lyrics, imagine the story behind those lyrics, and write that story.

7) Think of a time when you were afraid. Use that memory to inspire a poem or a story. Feel free to change details of the situation to make it more frightening or surprising than it actually was.

8) Imagine you found a secret door somewhere in your house. What might be behind that door? Use this as the starting point of a story or a poem.

9) Browse the website of an online bookstore like Amazon, searching for a book cover that really intrigues you (for this exercise, choose the cover of a book that you HAVEN'T read). Imagine what might be inside that book. Then try to write it!

10) Write a story or poem from a non-human perspective -- for example, from the point of view of a house, an animal, or a color.

11) Write a story or poem based on something you dreamed at night.

12) Write a story or poem that is completely dialogue.

13) Write about an argument you had -- but write about it from the other person's perspective. Try to imagine your way into that person's mind.

14) Write a story or poem in the form of letters, emails, text messages, or diary entries.

15) Find an old photograph of yourself. Remember or imagine the moment when it was taken, and use that as the starting point of a poem or memoir.

Creative writing prompts

children reading in tent

1) Write a story or poem that includes all three of these elements: an eavesdropper, a secret kiss, and a fire in the kitchen.

2) Write a story or poem that includes this line: "Don't move," he whispered.

3) Every night, your character has been dreaming about the same house, a house they can't remember ever having seen before...

4) Write a story or poem that includes all three of these elements: a sinister Uber driver, a fake engagement ring, and a legend.

5) Write a story or poem that includes this line: The first time was the hardest.

6) What is one of your greatest strengths? Write a story or poem about someone who ends up in trouble because they don't have this quality.

7) Write a story or poem that includes this line: She was a wonderful liar...

8) Write a story or poem that includes all three of these elements: a dating app, a foreign language, and a nosy neighbor.

9) Think of someone very different from yourself in ways you're curious about. Write a story or a poem from this person's perspective.

10) Your character discovers a hidden door in their basement. Opening it reveals something surprising...

11) Write a story or poem that includes this phrase: Unfortunately, the tombstone...

12) Write a story that takes place entirely in the dark.

You can find hundreds more  story starters and poetry prompts on our website.

Tips for better creative writing

man reading

1. Be specific.

Specific language and examples help readers form clearer mental images. For example, instead of using the word "bird", you can use a more specific word like "sparrow" or "crow". Or, instead of saying that your grandmother was a wonderful cook, you can describe some mouthwatering examples of her cooking.

2. Pay attention to all of the senses.

Beginning writers sometimes describe what things look like and forget the other senses: sound, smell, taste, and touch... Including details from multiple senses will make your writing more vivid and help to create an immersive experience for readers.

3. Show instead of only telling.

Showing something (with actions, dialogue, and imagery) tends to have a more powerful emotional impact than just informing the reader of it. For example, instead of telling readers that your character loves his son, you can show that character speaking tenderly to the son or making a sacrifice for the son's happiness.

4. Start with questions instead of answers.

Instead of setting out to teach readers a lesson you already know, you can use writing to explore issues and ideas that you struggle with. This approach is more likely to lead to interesting results because it takes you beyond the obvious.

5. Write a messy rough draft.

 During your first draft, try not to worry about choosing the right words. Instead, focus your mind on the scene or subject you're writing about. This tends to make your writing more vivid and can actually help the language flow better. Save the editing for later.

6. Rewrite.

Once you complete a rough draft, go back and read what you've written -- first from the perspective of an ordinary reader, and then as an editor -- and look for anything you can improve

Becoming a creative writer

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Here's some advice to help you succeed.

1. Become an observer.

The world is full of writing material if you pay attention. Be on the lookout for details you can use in your stories and poems, people you can convert into characters, interesting snippets of dialogue. Some writers find it helpful to keep a journal to record this raw material. Keeping a journal can also help you become more observant.

2. Establish a writing habit.

Consider committing to a regular writing schedule, even if it's only ten minutes a day. Many writers like to work first thing in the morning before other commitments get in the way. Keeping a writing schedule makes you less dependent on inspiration -- you learn how to write without it.

3. Read a lot.

Read the kind of thing you want to write -- for example, if you want to be a poet, it's important to read a lot of poetry . Pay attention to the techniques used by other authors, and try applying those techniques in your own writing.

4. Feed your imagination.

Reading feeds your imagination, and so can listening to music, looking at art, walking in nature, or exploring other subjects that excite you -- science, mathematics: whatever gets your brain firing. Instead of waiting for inspiration to find you, go hunt it down.

5. Have fun.

The more fun you have writing something, the more fun people are likely to have reading it!

6. Find a writing community.

Other writers can provide support and inspiration, as well as feedback on your work. Consider joining or forming a local writer's group. Or sign up for one of our online classes.

How to Start Creative Writing - Next Steps

Be sure to join our writer's email group for more tips on how to start creative writing. Also, check out these pages.

  • How to start creative writing: short stories
  • How to start creative writing: novels
  • How to start creative writing: poetry
  • How to start creative writing: memoirs

>>Back from How to Start Creative Writing to Creative Writing Now HOME

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In this 8-week email course, you'll learn to create characters that feel three-dimensional and real.  Details

"I am so enjoying the course. I have always wanted to write and have found, over the years, every excuse under the sun to not write. After reading through your material and the wonderful tips and suggestions I began on my three characters. I actually had to drag myself off to bed, reluctantly. I just couldn't stop." - Laura McCarthy

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In this 8-week course, you'll learn how to hook readers and keep them turning pages. Details

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In this 8-week email course, you'll learn how to use narrative point of view to pull readers deep inside your stories. Details

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how to get started with creative writing

Example prompts to try with Microsoft Copilot with Graph-grounded chat

Experience the power of Get started with Microsoft Copilot with Graph-grounded chat  (formerly named Microsoft 365 Chat). See how much time you can save and how much more you can get done. Use Microsoft Copilot to catch up, create content, and ask questions. This article provides several example prompts you can try.

Tip:  When you’re giving Copilot instructions, you can direct it to specific work content by using the forward slash key (“/”), then typing the name of a file, person, or meeting.  If you write a prompt and don’t reference a specific file, person, or meeting, Copilot will determine the best source of data for its response, including all your work content.

Synthesize large amounts of data into simple, consumable responses and catch up on things quickly. Here are some examples:

You've been on vacation now you're back. You need to find out what's going on with Project X. Find the latest about Project X. What's the current timeline? When are deliverables due?

You've just joined a new team and you're trying to ramp up on recent activities. Summarize team communications over the last 30 days. What are the team's priorities? 

There's been a recent change in how your team is tracking work. Find information about the new way our team is tracking work. Include email communications and points of contact for questions.

Create content

Brainstorm ideas and draft new content based on information at work. Here are some examples:

You want to draft a one-page description of a new project (let's call it Project Foo) that's just about to kick off at work. Using information in file1, file2, and file3, write a one-page description of Project Foo. Write it so non-technical people can understand what the project is about and when it's scheduled to be completed.

You're preparing an email to invite customers to attend an upcoming conference and visit your company's booth. Using information in Document Z, write a fun, catchy email inviting our customers to come see us at our booth during next month's conference.

You want to plan a morale event for your team. List 3-5 ideas for group activities in the Seattle area that would be suitable for my team. Include approximate cost and time estimates. 

Ask questions

Find information and get answers quickly, even if you can't remember where the information you need is or how it was shared. Here are some examples:

You need to know what's left in the budget for supplies. How much did we spend on supplies for Project Foo?  How much budget do we have left for Project Foo?

Your team received customer feedback. You want to identify the top things your team should address. Review the feedback we received from customers via email last week. What are the top three issues we should address?

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