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Beginner’s guide to: Creative Writing

Creative writing is a great activity for both adults and children to enjoy some escapism. Here, we're giving you some tips as well as two workbooks (adult and child) to help you get started.

By Hannah Bullimore

Many of us know the benefits of reading – escapism, mindfulness, increased empathy and keeping our minds busy in times of unease. But what about writing? Creative writing is a fantastic way to have fun, try something new and keep busy. You don’t have to be interested in publication or writing as a career; for many, writing is just a brilliant hobby. Plus, if you have children you can really connect and learn together with creative writing.

We’ll take you through some of the best ways to get started in writing, including some of the best resources. We also have not one, but two Writing Journals, one for adults and one for children. We hope this can also help you to teach little ones how to write while in isolation.

The benefits of creativity

Studies suggest that creativity, including creative writing, are great for the brain and mental health. Being creative requires the mind to focus and works both sides of the brain as you use memory and reasoning to create a plot structure and imagination to fill in the details. Therefore, creativity can help increase and renew brain function for both adults and children.

Creative Writing is also a great stress reliever, just like reading. Being focused on the task and enjoying the process of writing can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and low mood. Tests have even found that creativity can help prevent Alzheimer’s so whatever type of creativity you enjoy, it should become part of your everyday routine.

How creativity works can feel a little like magic, and for more on the creative process, I would highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. This insightful book tracks societies relationship with creativity as well as guiding any budding artists or writers through the pressures and strains of the creative process.

The blank page

Many writers, new and seasoned, will agree that the hardest part can be getting started. This is particularly true when you don’t have something specific or a project in mind – which is very often true when writing for fun, instead of a deadline.

Before you get started on the task of writing itself, I would recommend trying these new things:

Pick your medium. Do you prefer writing with paper and pen or using a laptop? Which is easier? Which do you enjoy?

Have some designated writing time where no one will interrupt you and possibly make you forget where you were and where you were going next.

This has to be the single most important piece of advice for writers and potential writers everywhere. Read anything and everything. Read every day, read in the bath, in bed, read instead of turning on the TV.

Remove judgement. Writing is a joy. Until you get stuck in your own head and worry about what people will think. Creative writing as a hobby is just for you, no one else. So only worry about the process – enjoying the writing, not the outcome. Take away judgement and pressure and suddenly it will be a lot easier to put pen to paper.

Writing styles

If it’s been a while since you last gave writing a try (possibly not since school), here are some jargon-busting terms to help you consider what you want to try writing.

Prose – The writing is flowing in sentences, usually for stories and non-fiction though there are of course exceptions to every rule in writing!

Poetry – can be almost everything, we think of stanzas and verses, but poetry can be flowing, run on into lines, a word to a page. If you can think it and create it, it can be poetry.

Script – The stage directions and dialogue usually constructed in a very specific way for actors to understand and be able to perform the parts.

Genre – the style of writing itself, whether that’s fantasy or crime. The options of genre are endless with many cross overs and different names for different genres.

The importance of creative writing for children

If you have children, then you are most likely faced with trying to teach them from home and creative writing is a very important part of the curriculum.

The National Curriculum states that children should be able to ‘write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.’ This varies with age, but the aim is to get children writing different things from a young age; for example writing instructions, a letter, or a story.  

I’ve spent time volunteering in schools and running writing workshops, and many children have fantastic imaginations. Getting them to write can feel tricky, but for many children, it’s simply about getting them excited to imagine something unusual or funny and then write about it.

The HLN Children’s Creative Writing Workbook is designed to help children write for fun, with space to be imaginative, colour in, write stories and letters and read over their own writing.

Writing for fun as a grown-up

Whether you want to write while your child does to show them how fun it is, or you don’t have kids and want to enjoy this hobby for yourself, we are hoping to help you start to write.

Writing is a fun, unique hobby and if you really enjoy it there are plenty of online courses to join.

To help you get started we have created the HLN Creative Writing Journal with a wide range of activities and exercises to help you write creatively.

Whether you try your hand at poetry or stories, write a murder mystery or a description of the people who pass your living room window, we hope you enjoy giving this new hobby a try!

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