Sometimes creativity can run dry; or sometimes we just need to create something different, unique, and none of our usual techniques are helpful.
Here are 11 unusual tips to spark your writing skills. These tips are not about grammar, technique, or punctuation. They are suggestions on how to break out of your “comfort zone” and level up on how you engage your readers.
1. Be Honest
Whether you are writing an article, a press release, a novel, or a short story, tell your audience the things they think about but they never talk about. Being honest means delivering value to your audience, and your readers will be grateful for your boldness.
2. Do Not be Afraid of What Other People Think
Your job as a writer is to cover the story, to expose the feelings, to be honest, and deliver value. For each person you are worried about offending, you are taking away something from your story. You are masking the way you write in order to protect the opinion some people might have about you.
It is natural to worry about some opinions, just learn where to draw the line so your writing doesn’t become too cliche.
3. Make People Cry
…Or laugh, or think. Make people feel something. Take your reader back to when they were children, or in love, or to the moment where they experienced something for the first time. Show them how to remember what is precious and what matters. People love reality checks.
4. Be Funny
Funny always works. Comedy is hard to incorporate into writing. I remember when I was in college, my professor told me that comedy is the hardest writing style to accomplish. Laughter, however, is the universal language.
Make people laugh and you will have a loyal audience.
Use real life experiences, the simple frustrating moments, when we can’t seem to get it together, those moments are universal experiences. You will connect with your audience much faster.
5. Do Not be Afraid of Short Sentences
Short sentences. Periods. Allow your reader to pause and think. Your sentences need to be strong enough that they warrant a period. It works. Remember that most of the time “less is more”.
6. Take Common Opinions and Explore the Opposite
This can be a real challenge that helps you expand your horizons. It is easy to have a set belief system and to filter our life and stories around that. Do an experiment and assume the opposite of what you believe.
Explore what can lead people to believe something exactly opposite than your beliefs.
This exercise will allow you to write more complex, diverse characters and plots.
7. Reverse Sentences or Paragraphs
Once you finish writing a story, reverse it. See how it reads if you were to begin writing it from the end.
Take a sentence out and see how the feel of the story can change. Play around with your content and you might discover great things.
8. Objects, Words, and People
This is one of my favorites. Sometimes when I experience writers block, I simple choose a few objects, words, or people and force myself to develop a story that includes these.
For example, I might choose:
- Red clock
- A bridge
- A cat
- The word ‘spontaneous’
- Lady Gaga
Then I will proceed to write a story that needs to include these 5 things. Lady Gaga does not have to be the main character, she can simply be a poster on the wall. But this will allow you brain to think outside of the ‘writing box’.
9. Use your Sense of Smell
Smell something. A perfume or pie baking in the oven.
The sense of smell is closely linked to memory, more so than any other sense. Smelling something will bring back memories and it will allow you to tap into that time of your life, describing scenes and situations in extreme detail.
10. Write About Someone Completely Different than You
It is easy and cathartic to write about something familiar.
Take everything you are, how you feel, essentially what defines you, and throw it out of the window.
Now develop a character that is the exact opposite of who you are.
Let’s assume you are:
- Love art
- Great cook
Build a character that is:
- Very Social
- Doesn’t get art
- Never cooks
Explore why this character evolved to be like this.
11. Every Character In Your Story Must Want Something
Even if it is a bowl of cereal, your characters must all be after something. Motivation is what drives the plot and shows the true colors of your characters.
Even named minor characters should have a reason to be in the story. A baker who hates a client who breaths on the donuts adds a sense of believability to the environment as opposed to a baker who just fills the space.
Experiment, have fun, read a lot, drink some coffee, paint, and do whatever it takes to get your creativity going.
There is no right or wrong. But there is good and better.