To read a short introduction to this crash course, click on the picture or HERE.
Is everyone here? Raise your hand if you’re not…(don’t all good teachers use lame jokes?)
Welcome to Part 1 of The Creative Writing Crash Course. Can you feel the electricity in the air? (Rub your feet along the carpet and touch the person nearest to you…trust me, there IS electricity in the air!)
If you are able to spare an uninterrupted moment, I would highly encourage you to read this post straight through. That way you have a “big picture” in your mind when you come back to this post and work through all the little snapshots.
You’ll find I refer mainly to the content on your blog, but this isn’t necessarily only applicable to blogs. There are many different venues for creative writing and the basic principles are the same.
Ready to start creating? Here we go…
1. Who is your audience and what is your purpose?
Who reads your blog? Who do you want to read your blog? What past posts have gotten the most traffic? What kind of posts on other blogs do you enjoy reading?
Everything written has an audience (even your diary!). You don’t need to change who you are and write things just for your audience, but it does help to know who is reading. If you are writing mainly to young ladies, then your tone will be different than if you are writing to seasoned mothers. You will use different analogies and assume they have a different knowledge base.
It’s best to concentrate on the audience you already have. They are there for a reason and ignoring them while you seek after new readers just isn’t nice.
Go back through old posts and find which ones had the most comments. While this isn’t a sure-fire way to find out what topics are most popular, it is the easiest. Study those posts and comments and figure out what made them special and who the audience was/is.
The posts I have written that have gotten the most traffic have been those on Grief and those on being Quiverfull. There are several other topics that get a fair amount of traffic as well, but these are the biggies.
2. What do you know?
What does my day consist of? How is my life unique? What things do I know that could help others? Have I seen another blog post about something I do, but in a different way?
No one wants to toot their own horn, but for most of us, we aren’t even sure there is a horn to toot. Stop thinking about it as telling others how to do something and more as sharing what you’ve learned, imperfections and all. Be real.
And no matter what, know your subject. I once walked out of a book signing when I realized the author knew nothing about the subject of the book she had written. The book was an adventure about photographing polar bears. She had never seen a real polar bear and she wasn’t even a photographer. She had no credibility in my eyes.
Similarly, I could never write a post on adoption because I’ve never experienced adoption. I have no credibility and it would be ridiculous to act like I do. However, if I were to start the process of adopting a child, it would be a wonderful idea to blog about the process in order to share with others. I wouldn’t have to know everything about adoption, but it would need to be personal.
Brainstorm your life and come up with a list of 5 topics that are part of your life (hopefully, some of them coincide with the list you made in #1). My list looks something like this:
3. Is the topic worth discussing?
Is this interesting to anyone? Can I find enough to say on the subject that will make a worthwhile post? Am I too emotionally involved with this topic and will find it difficult to keep my emotions from running this post (emotions are good, but not when the reader has trouble wading through them)? Would it be better to just keep my thoughts on this topic to myself? Will my talking about this serve any worthwhile purpose? Is what I want to say God-honoring?
Not everything needs to be written about, and not everything is easy to write about. If you find yourself having difficulty writing a particular post, let it go for a while. Come back to it later and make sure it truly was something worth writing about.
From either the list you made for #1 or the list you made for #2, pick a topic and begin brainstorming ideas for a post pertaining to that category.
For instance, someday I’d like to write a post on Hospitality in a Large Family.
4. What do you want your readers to feel and know after reading what you’ve written?
Do I want my reader to DO something with this information or do I want them to FEEL something? Am I able to take this topic and clearly convey a message?
Not every topic is easy to work with, but just about any topic can be transformed into a good post depending on the viewpoint you choose. The spots on my carpet and the fact that I have no idea how to get them cleaned up is only going to hold my reader’s interest for a short time. However, if I can take that topic and parallel it with something much deeper (like how we are unable to remove the spots in our lives on our own and thus need the saving power of Jesus), THEN I have an awesome blog post in the making. More on this in #5.
What would I like my reader to know about the topic I’ve chosen?
For a post on Hospitality in a Large Family, I would want my reader to realize that there is no need for a mother of a large brood to quit having people into her home. However, her expectations must change and her definition of hospitality must be redefined.
5. Choose an analogy and make it the driving, yet subtle, force behind your post.
What kind of things go along with my topic? Can I take one of those things and make an analogy that makes sense with the message I am trying to convey?
A vision for the direction your writing is heading in is imperative. A good theme or analogy makes the subject “pop” and brings to life what you are trying to convey.
Brainstorm anything and everything that comes to mind when you think of your topic. (this is just like a word association game) Choose one thing from that list that makes a good analogy for your topic and then brainstorm all the ways you can make that analogy “work” for the message you are wanting to convey.
For my topic: Hospitality in a Large Family, a brainstorming list would look something like this:
teacups, fine china, wedding dishes, candles, fireplace, warmth, soft glow, lively conversation, Mary vs Martha, my mom, family atmosphere, comfort, small kitchen, antique table, mismatched chairs, casserole, desserts, coffee, good friends, joyful noise, etc.
I could take something like my antique table and make a list that looks like this:
My antique table is large like my family.
The wear and tear of my antique table is what makes it beautiful and familiar.
It’s imperfections are endearing.
My antique table is the centerpiece of my home just as I want hospitality to be a centerpiece in my home.
Those who gather at my antique table are not there to admire my table, but are there to enjoy what my table represents.
***Once you have some thoughts down, try writing a post. Don’t get carried away with your analogy, but make sure it is subtly there and you use it to your advantage.
Now, one last exercise:
Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?
This question, asked by the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, is the perfect example of taking random everyday stuff and meshing it in a creative way. So, here’s how it works…
1. Look up from your computer. What is the first thing you see? (ugh…my daughter’s stuffed monkey…this should be interesting! lol)
2. Pick a room in your house. (my kitchen)
3. Answer this question: Why is [the room you chose] like [the item you saw]?
My answer: My kitchen is like my daughter’s stuffed monkey because it is ugly.
Did you follow along with these exercises and want to share? Add your name and post to the McLinky below! Be sure and leave comments on the other posts, so we can all learn from each other!
**To clear up any confusion…
If you do a post containing the exercises you’ve done here, then link to it, so we can all share. There’s no right or wrong way to do it and you are welcome to add the button to the top of your post.
Links to other posts in this series:
THIS POST IS PART 1 – THE MESSAGE
Part 2 – Grab Their Attention & Keep It (A)
Part 3 – Grab Their Attention & Keep It (B)
Part 4 – Choose Your Words Wisely (A)
Part 5 – Choose Your Words Wisely (B)
Part 6 – Wrapping It Up