BBC radio 2

Did you hear our how to guides on Simon Mayo's Radio 2 Drivetime show?

You may have read about Howopia in The Telegraph?

How To Begin Writing Creatively

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Every writer’s first step begins with a hastily composed poem, a scribbled short story or a small offering to a local free paper – and very few people sold the first thing they ever wrote. Even the most competent of writers had to serve their apprenticeship and learn the techniques of producing publishable material.
What you'll need: 
A copy of Writing From Life by Lynne Hackles - published by How-To Books, price £8.99
Begin by obtaining a copy of the various creative writing magazines such as Writers’ Forum, Writing Magazine, The New Writer and Freelance Market News to see which one appeals to you best in terms of style and content. These are basic nuts and bolts instruction for beginners and give examples of the standard of writing you will be expected to produce if you eventually want to sell your work.
The first rule for beginners is to ‘write about what you know’ and this means drawing on things that have happened to you and your family over the years. Perhaps you can submit something of interest to the local free paper – because everyone has to start somewhere. As if you think you haven’t got anything to write about, read Lynne Hackles, Writing From Life, and you will quickly change your mind.
Find out if there are any writers’ groups or workshops in the area. Some groups meet during the day, others in the evenings, and all have regular meetings. Workshops are generally open to the public and geared to specific topics such as writing poetry, biography, short stories, etc. Your local library will probably have details of both, together with any forthcoming events.
If you don’t like the idea of joining a group, there are postal courses such as those from The Writers’ Bureau that cover the general approach to writing short stories, poetry and articles. The tutors are published writers themselves and the courses provide a dialogue between student and tutor that expands as the tutoring progresses.
You can’t be a writer if you don’t write anything, so decide on whether you are going to concentrate on fiction, fact or poetry – and produce your first piece of serious writing. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t any good, no one is going to read it unless you want them to.
Don’t be too ambitious at this stage but now find a magazine or newspaper in which you would like to see your work published. Study the content and see if what you produce is compatible with the material that has previously been selected by the editor. Many new writers start out by becoming a village or sports correspondent for the local free paper or parish magazine, and cut their writer’s teeth in journalism.
Remember that all typescripts must be sent out double-spaced, on one side of white A4 paper, and with wide margins. Only justify the text on the left-hand side, and always state the number of words in each piece of writing. Enclose a stamped-addressed envelope for a reply.
Keep and ideas book and record any snippets of conversation, or points of interest that you can work into a piece of writing.
Start to collect reference books to help stimulate ideas: the first should be a good dictionary and thesaurus. Pay regular visits to the local charity shop’s bookshelves and acquire useful reference books at a fraction of the original cost.
Make a resolution to send one perfectly polished piece of writing out every month for an editor to consider.
Every writer’s career began with a modest publication and as you find your way around the vast world of publishing, the knowledge and experience you gain will help you produce more and more saleable material. There are no magic formulae for producing good, publishable writing but by constantly studying other writers, you will begin to recognise the techniques they use, the unique style of their prose, or how they make every word count.
Always be on the lookout for fresh markets
Never discard an idea until you are sure there’s no use for it
Don’t be frightened to explore new areas of writing
Don’t resubmit rejected material to another magazine without rewriting it.
You will receive rejection slips for your work and, just as everyone receives an electricity bill, so will all writers – even the most experienced ones.


Post new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Featured writers

We have had a chat with a couple of our more experienced writers.

Find out more about their experiences and why they contribute to Howopia.

Spotlight on two writers.

Share this

How To guides

Howopia is a new website dedicated to bringing together a community of experts to create the most useful 'How To' guides, to help you to achieve almost anything.

Related links