Meet the Internal Editor
One of the biggest deterrents to creative writing is the presence of your internal editor. She—or he—loves to interfere with your thought process by pointing out mistakes, typos, missing commas, or errors in your thought process.
“But,” you say, “surely this is important? I don’t want to produce inferior work.”
No, you don’t. But the time for editing will come later, once you’ve finished writing the article or chapter. If you stop to listen to all the suggested corrections of your internal editor, your work will lack creativity and flow and may never get finished.
Clichés are out. Creative descriptions are in.
So how do you come up with new ways to describe items that will help your readers see what you want them to? The answer lies in practice. Practice descriptions in all situations, alone, and in groups.
While you stand in the shower, look for new items to describe. e.g. Think of a new way to describe the water.
- How does it look coming out the tap?
- What does the stream of water remind you of?
- What does it look like lapping round your feet with bubbles of foam bobbing on it like a wave rushing up the seashore?
- How about when it rushes down the drain, like the center of a whirlpool?
When you go outside, look around. Look up. Put what you see into words.
e.g. Make up a sentence to describe the clouds overhead. Then try to better it with a more fascinating description.
- Does it look like a ship in full sail? Nah! That’s been said before.
- A Spanish galleon sailing across a stormy sea? Better, but probably not original.
- A ghost ship breaking through a blue curtain blowing in the breeze? Better. That tells me the cloud is white, the sky is blue and the ship (cloud) is moving.
Be creative with sound and touch
How about sound? Do your shoes make a crunching sound as you walk as if you’re walking on broken glass? Can’t you do better than that? How about walking on spilt corn flakes?
And touch? Run your fingers across the bark of a tree, or feel the petal of a flower. How does it feel? Soft like velvet? That’s old even for a cliché. Is it soft like a baby’s bottom? I never know why that part of a baby’s anatomy is so often used, but that’s also as old as . . . most clichés. Or does the curling petal remind you of stroking your toddler’s blonde hair as she nestles on your lap?
Play creative games
Try playing games with your family. Lying on your back staring at the clouds is an old one, but still effective. Sit on the porch and look at the scenery. Pick an item and see who can come up with the most creative description.
When you’re out for a drive in the car, perhaps on a long boring trip like through the South African Karoo Desert, where the road stretches for kilometers, no bends, no shade. No trees, no buildings, no animals. Boring . . . but what about the dry veldt on either side of the car? What does it look like? Take it in turns to be creative. And of course, as a writer, you will jot down the best for future use.
Over to you
Let’s practice now. Come up with a creative sentence that describes the year to date. How has it been for you? Share it in a comment below.