Ever watched a painter paint? How about a baker bake? Those that bake fancy realistic cakes like sneakers or a full human being? Have you watched their creation process videos?
First, their works look all scattered, uncoordinated, and in some cases, ugly. The painter starts with some lines that make no immediate sense to the eye. The baker has cut-up cake bits, fondant, and whatnot. The creation doesn’t usually begin to take shape until a while.
You know the difference between those categories of creators and a good number of fiction writers? We usually do not have a clear picture of what we want to create in our heads. Yeah, the story idea exists but we do not know every single word we will use in telling it or the exact elements we’ll employ. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it gives us room for abundant creativity.
How do you become a creative storyteller?
First, always think of creativity in an abundant way. Try your best not to accept the belief that your creativity is in limited supply. Perhaps it’s in a tiny bottle in a dusty corner of your brain. Now you must use every idea that crawls into your head no matter how mediocre, because… scarcity.
Bash that reasoning and chuck it out the window.
The human mind has the capacity to think up wild, crazy, intense stuff. Most times we are the ones who subconsciously attach a faucet to the supply. If an idea seems not to be working no matter the number of time and energy you’ve poured into it, step back. I am not telling you to haul the idea; no. I’m simply saying you should perhaps stop holding on to it in such a tight fist because you fear nothing better will come. Your mind is capable of thinking up another idea–better ones even. Stop looking at creativity as though it is some scarce commodity.
Observe folks but not like a creep, please. Observing human behavior and how they react to people/situations/things in a unique or universal way can inspire you to create unforgettable characters.
I’d use myself as an example. There was this human I met over a year ago who was quite, simply put, loathsome. I used him as character inspiration for a villain. Writing that villain’s part became somewhat easier. This also applies to people I find refreshing or even complex. I feel as if I should add a disclaimer to this advice but eh… I trust you guys. You are wise enough to not be sleazy writer gods.
Develop a love for people too. If you hate people, it will reflect in your characters. To create really likable characters, you have to know what it’s like to like people if not whatever you portray will feel wooden. Hang out with friends and loved ones; pause and consider the motivation behind the choices they make.
Do Not Hate People.
“I hate people.” Lots of people say that phrase but it’s a bullshit statement. If people are really as bad as folks assert, the world would have been consumed by all that evil ages ago.
Good movies will teach you pacing, transition, dialogue, imagery, character interaction/description, etc. Bad movies will teach you exactly what not to do. This exercise is a different kind of “people watching” method and an enjoyable one at that. If you have not been fully present and deliberate when watching movies, start being so from now on and see how it helps your writing.
Here, I will share a somewhat different movie angle that has also worked for me. I’ve never seen anyone mention this before. Ready?
You read that right. Movie trailers are usually packed full of scenes that are crafted to draw attention, spark curiosity, and build anticipation. They weave in powerful dialogue and imagery that remains in your head hours after you have seen the trailer. They tease you with gorgeous shots that you’d want to see more of then slide in action scenes that are really REALLY good.
For Fantasy/Epic/Sci-Fi writers, watch John Carter of Mars trailer and see what I mean.
For Romance writers, watch Me Before You trailer
Horror? THE NUN
Get inspired. When watching a movie or its trailer, be in the moment. Try your best to notice everything. Take notes. Ask yourself how that particular scene can be described, or an action. What about the expression on their faces? See where I’m heading with this?
So, journaling. The act of putting down your thoughts as they pour into your mind. Now listen, this is not a diary type of thing.
“Today, Hannah kissed Alfred Enoch. Can you imagine the nerve of that camel-faced female? I should be the one kissing Alfred! Me!”
If you want to journal that way, sure, do you. I am using myself as a ref here so journaling does not mean ‘dear diary’.
Writing your thoughts about different life issues can make you have a somewhat different opinion on how smart you are. I do not know if this happens to you, but when I re-read the thoughts I write, I am like: “Wow! Who is this intelligent young, empowered, forward-thinking wonder woman?”
How would journaling help your writing? Dialogue and exposition (especially character musing). Infusing lines from your journal into your dialogues or exposition can totally make your writing/character deeper, more alive. I feel as if I should add another disclaimer here too but nah…
Do you listen to music while you read or write? I do and I love it. When I want to nail that epic scene that either have emotions flying about, tension, or action, I listen to music while at it. Epic/movie soundtracks help to get my imagination running. Usually, writers know where action scenes should be but writing those scenes in a way that will electrify the reader? You need every drop of creativity. Music acts as a type of oil to my gears, you know, they make the writing process of those scenes a bit smoother. Makes you imagine it like a movie in your head.
Write that idea down. Do not say you will remember later. Once that idea pops into your head, write it down somewhere. I use notes on my phone but before that, I wrote all my ideas in a notebook and even started some stories in there. As a matter of fact, that was how I started writing Gods and Queens. I had this battered notebook then. I carried it around for fear that I would have nothing to write in once an idea struck. One day, I read through the ideas I had written down and went ahead to pen down the first chapter.
Going through your notes and reading some stories you started and dumped can boost some creativity. Ever read a story you stopped writing and you are mad at yourself because you did not complete it? Yeah, use that ‘madness’ to your advantage.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS OF DOOM
Anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
Those factors play a role in draining our desire to imagine things. We are so bogged down by many issues that writing begins to look like this great mountain before us. I could tell you to relax, perform yoga, or some all-is-well-and-good high-sounding nonsense, but I know how that doesn’t help. I have been there, still there more times than I’ll love to be.
Here, the only advice I can give is for you to trudge through. One day at a time. Today, write this scene. Tomorrow, read that book. The day after that, outline so-and-so. Cut your tasks into little pieces. REST. Applaud yourself. And post/publish your stuff. REWARD YOURSELF FOR SIMPLY EXISTING. You lose fully when you allow yourself to get swept away by those three musketeers.
I hope you found these “creativity boost” steps helpful. And do not forget to remember this: