I was given a guide to creative writing some time ago, which was resurrected on the occasion of a cupboard clear out. It contains all I need to “develop and progress my writing”, which I felt sure must be useful, so I had a look.
Obviously, I write quite a lot, so this book is aimed at the beginner, I imagine. I decided to write a short story with its help. A number of key irritations impeded my progress:
- Do I need a definition of creative writing and whether it can be taught? No.
- Did I feel an urge to write the three most important things I need to do as a writer? No, but I will anyway: think, read, write.
- Intro completed, section 1 is all about organising myself. Pages and pages on what sort of notebook I should get and what I should write in it. Reality is I have one desk for my iMac, I have another desk with my Macbook, and I also carry a notebook, and have a selection here. I write down anything I need to remember if I do not have instant access to a screen, or if interviewing. End of.
- Section 2 – starting to write. I read about acrostics and switch off. How to write from nothing? There is never, ever nothing to write about.
I’m sure there is great stuff in the teach yourself kit but 30 or so pages in, I am already bored, feeling that my time is better spent elsewhere. Maybe this is why I am not a creative writer, I’m a factual one, but I started my short story (regardless) by making an observation and writing two sentences on the notebook of my phone.
To be honest, writing is like painting/drawing. If you have to think too hard for inspiration, it is not the right time to get going. The ideas should flow fairly easily because the real hard work comes later, in the crafting of words or pictures. If you struggle at the get-go, then switch off, try something else. For now. Come back to it.
That said, there’s only so much poverty of inspiration any one can sensibly manage. If ‘writer’s block’ is a constant, I’d say try something else. Not everyone can write brilliantly (including me) but all can learn to write passably (this does require time and effort, but it does not require a long discussion about the colour or standard of your notebook. I have written on a supermarket till receipt before now).
Brilliant or passable, if there’s no joy in it, why bother? Do something you prefer.