How to tackle a blank page? – Creative writing online with NEC

One of the best parts about creative writing as a hobby is that you can do it from anywhere – all you need is something to write with (laptop, notepad and pen, a typewriter if you’re feeling particularly vintage!) 

One of the most difficult parts about creative writing as a hobby is finding the time to write, alongside the general business of life and all of your other commitments.  

A possible silver lining to this strange period of 2020 is that you are likely to be stuck in your house with more time on your hands than you know what to do with, and instructions not to get too close to anybody. This is ideal for getting some writing done, whether you are a long-time writer or are simply curious about giving something new a go. 

This blog post will give you three rough steps to getting started.

Step 1: Decide on what kind of creative writing you want to try

This can include:

  • Writing short stories, flash fiction, or a novel
  • Writing a diary or autobiography
  • Writing poetry
  • Screenwriting
  • Writing a blog or an article on a subject of your choosing

Different kinds of writing will have different conventions and styles to be aware of, but a lot of the foundational skills are similar. The internet is full of free tips, advice and resources that can support you in building your knowledge of how to write no matter what stage you are at.

These resources can range from writing prompts to give you story ideas, articles on different types of narrative structure you can use or ‘how to write a good action scene’, to sites like Hemmingway editor which helps you identify passive voice or sentence variation in your work.

Step 2: Gather ideas

There is no one right way to be a writer – some people choose to plan their pieces with a detailed outline before they begin, while other people prefer to start writing and see what happens. You can experiment to find the way of writing which works best for you. 

However, before you start, you do need an idea. This does not have to be fully formed. 

It may be that you have a story you have always wanted to tell already, or a topic that you have strong feelings about that you would like to put into words. If not, below are some ways you can start gathering ideas.

  • Writing prompts (there are websites dedicated to providing writing prompts, along with Instagram or Tumblr accounts. A quick google search will land with a variety of options).
  • Read! Reading is a great way to gather ideas, and to find examples of writing which you personally enjoy to take inspiration from. You may also find stories you hate enough that you think, well, that’s not how I would have had that scene go, which can also be a excellent place to start.
  • Draw from your own experiences. What do you want to say?

Step 3: Sit down and write!

Below are a couple of tips to help you get in a creative headspace:

  • Create the physical space to write (this can help with concentration and getting in the mood)
  • Set little goals (wanting to finish a novel is admirable, but it is also a lot of hard work; it is important to keep up momentum through smaller targets like a chapter or certain word counts a day).
  • Set aside a time in the day when you want to write (this can also help with concentration and getting into a writing mindset, and also means you are less likely to get interrupted if you let the people around you know that you will be busy.)

A lot of writing is solitary, and great for social distancing, but in a time of social distancing writing can also be a good way to connect with people around you. You could also try sharing your work with different online writing communities, collaborating on a story with a friend, or sharpening your narrative skills through a game of Articulate or Dungeons or Dragons. 

In short, writing is a flexible hobby that you can do as little or as much as you like, alone or with friends, which lets you explore your creative side. 

Happy writing! 

If you’re looking for a Creative Writing online course that’s broad and far-reaching, then this course will test your existing skills and challenge you to take your writing in new, creative directions.

From novels, play-writing and poetry, to short stories, non-fiction and autobiographies, you’ll cover a myriad of genres. With the support of an expert tutor, you’ll develop your knowledge of different mediums and techniques, as  you put theory into practice through a series of creative writing assignments.

Enrol today and work at your own pace to discover your writing strengths, a creative path and how to help others improve their work as you gain more experience and enjoy lots of creative writing practice!

Simone King is a member of our Student Support team and one of our Creative Writing tutors. She has a degree in American Literature and Creative Writing,

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