What is it to you?
• Creative Writing has two parts
• The creativity
• The writing
• Both these muscles have to be exercised. Just like going
to the gym to exercise your physical muscles.
• How do you exercise creativity?
• Look inside
• Look outside
• Do different things
• Take risk
Don’t Think. Anything self-conscious is lousy.
What does that mean?
• Try to do something that your inner-conscious registers and feels.
• Learn to love the process like Elizabeth Gilbert said. Don’t worry
• Do it because you want to do it. You want to do it right. You want to
do it differently.
• Trust your instinct. And put in the work.
So how do you do this?
1. Put your pen on paper. Start the clock and write. Don’t think
about what you write.
2. Do this every day at least for 5 minutes. Write whatever comes. If
nothing comes, write that – “I can’t think of anything to write” and
keep writing and something will happen.
Let’s flex our creative muscles
• Write 5 sentences with repetitive synonyms.
For example – A boy, lad, young man leapt off a hill, a mountain, a
• Describe the following without using adjectives or
For example – The river meandered like a ribbon that the princess
The Shard or The Gherkin
Let’s flex our creative muscles some more
• On my way to the _____________________, I saw a
_____________________ that _________________ me.
I _____________ at the ______ ______________ until I
could no longer _________________.
• The church was hidden behind a __________________.
Its tall spires were ________________ under the
___________. From its windows, a ______________
looked out and said, “_________________________”.
Writing is a muscle memory too!
• Try different types of writing. Write on a computer, write on
a notebook with pens, with pencils, with crayons. Write on
paper, write on cardboard and type on a mobile phone.
Write on small notebooks and big posters.
• As you do it, Observe what you feel.
• What makes you go faster?
• Which method keeps up with the speed of your thinking?
• What changes in your content when you change the material?
• What restricts your words when you use one writing instrument vs
What is learning to write?
• Reading is the first step towards learning to write. If you
don’t read different things, you won’t know how different
things are done.
• Practice makes it habitual. Practice might never bring
perfection – because I’m not sure we are working towards
perfection. But practice will hone the skill.
• Keep practicing every day. If you want to be a writer, write
everyday. Doctors have to go to the hospital and treat patients
every day. Teachers have to teach everyday. So writers too have to
write everyday. Even if all the stuff they write is not for others.
• Practice every skill – learn to do different things. Exercise your
writing, challenge it and keep it sharp.
How do you practice everyday?
• You can do writing exercises – there are 1000s of places
where you can find them. Here are some interesting ones.
1. Pick a noun from the dictionary. And use it in the most ridiculous
way you can. Here are some words to start you off.
2. Now combine the noun with a verb and put them in an unlikely
sentence. Here are some verbs to start you off
• Open a book. Read the first sentence of the first chapter.
Now that’s your first sentence. Write a story, a passage,
an essay, maybe even a poem. Here are some famous
first lines you could borrow.
• All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its
own way. Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina
• It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… Charles
Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities
• It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking
thirteen. George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four.
• The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
L.P.Hartley – The Go-Between
What should you practice?
Can you think of
want to read
Can you make
trouble for your
does he want and
why can’t he get
When is this all
happening? In the
near past, distant
past? Or future?
Where is this
London? In a
What choices will the
character make? Will
he be brave? Will he
give up? Why should
the reader care?
Characters – how do you study them?
• First think of a character and write a sentence about
him/her/it. Why is this character interesting for someone?
• Then describe the character physically – in 2 sentences.
Aliens or man or woman or tall or short? Does it matter to
• Then describe their quirks – do they pick their nose in
public? Does he/she eat with mouth open? Is he/she
elegant, wears white gloves and carries an umbrella?
What stands out?
• Now describe an object in their bag and why they are
• Know what your character wants and make it really really
really hard for him/her to get it.
• If a character is rich, getting a taxi won’t be a difficult circumstance.
• If a character is blind, walking in the dark is not a difficulty.
• Take the character you built in the previous section and
write 5 difficult circumstances for them.
• Write 5 things that would make them smile.
• Write 5 people who might make their life difficult.
• Write about 5 places or things that upset your character.
• Write 5 memories from the past for this character that
make them happy.
Time and Place
• You need to set the story somewhere in some time.
• Knowing whether you are setting it in 2014 or 1914 makes a big
difference to the things you can do in the story. For example, if the
story is set in 1914, mobile phones and text messages can’t be
used. Unless of course your story is set in a magical place and you
have setup the universe.
• Whether a story is happening in Africa or the UK changes
what happens in the story.
• Be true to the place and time you have chosen.
• Make the characters ring true to the time and place you
• Even if set in contemporary London, make sure you don’t put the
character on Northern Line to go to Heathrow Airport.
Choices – we are the product of our own
• So are our characters. Every character has to make a choice
and that choice has to match the characteristics you have
• If a character is selfish, when things turn difficult, he should
think about himself, not the universe.
• Be consistent.
• Give difficult choices.
• Do you want peach or strawberry milkshake is not a hero’s choice. It is
just a menu.
• The choice between giving up something dear to you or saving
• The choice between telling the truth and going to jail or hiding away.
• The story will be filled with small and big choices. The small
choices will move the story along. The big choices will make
the story take a turn you can’t turn back from.
Let’s Practice the Character Pyramid
• Pick a character you created earlier and define the time
and place where he/she is.
• Describe the time and place in detail.
• Give them some seriously difficult choices.
• Which one would your character pick and why?
Some useful books you can read….
• Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
• Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
• Invisible Ink – Brian McDonald
• Poem Crazy – Susan G Woolridge