Since beginning university I have been looking at the work of other future writers in my course and comparing myself to their writing. Often it’s a – damn why didn’t I think of that? or, I wish I could write like that? But when you really think about… You shouldn’t ever compare yourself. Take a look at this poem for example:
As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed by Jack Prelutsky
As soon as Fred gets out of bed,
his underwear goes on his head.
His mother laughs, “Don’t put it there,
a head’s no place for underwear!”
But near his ears, above his brains,
is where Fred’s underwear remains.
At night when Fred goes back to bed,
he deftly plucks it off his head.
His mother switches off the light
and softly croons, “Good night! Good night!”
And then, for reasons no one knows,
Fred’s underwear goes on his toes.
This is a children’s poem that has a lot of humour in it! I wish that I could be funny, but writing humour doesn’t come naturally to me. What does come naturally to me though is emotion and who’s to say that Jack can grab your heart in the same way that I can? So yes, Jack has strong points that I don’t have in my writing, but instead of comparing myself I need to look at what I’m good at!
Take mine for example:
I had an amazing idea for a short story in my head so I grabbed my pen and paper and began to write. Needless to say I have not done whatever was in my head justice at all – what I wrote is shit.
I started doing edits to it as you can see but it just wasn’t working out so I’ve ripped this page out and started again.
Your first draft is allowed to be shit. It is extremely uncommon to write a story and think ‘this is perfect.’ There’s always mistakes whether it just be spellings or a character that doesn’t work. For me I know that my first draft does nothing to grip the reader. But that’s okay because it’s not finished yet! My second draft will be much better and maybe it will take me ten rewrites to get it perfect but I will get there!
Here is a writing prompt from me. If you decide to go ahead and use it, I would love to see what you come up with:
Your Grandparents have died and you are going through their house, sorting out their personal belongings. What item do you find hidden that means a lot to you? It may be an item of clothing, book, ornament etc. Write a little story or poem about this item.
Here is mine:
Book of Passed
My fingertips trace the outline of the old, leather-bound cover, leaving dusty smears. The pages are yellowed with age, though the cellophane wrapped photos are still looking crisp. Faces of family that are all long forgotten, their memories remaining in this one precious book. Captures of irreplaceable moments and people I will never meet, yet they are somehow all a part of me. The old woman sat unsmiling at the fireplace mirrors my oval face and the young boy, laughing and playing golf has handed me down his thin lips.
I have an essay and two portfolios to hand in next week and due to this my brain is completely empty. I have never had to come up with so many concepts to write about before. For one of my portfolios I am focusing on prose poems which are quite simply a cross between poetry and stories and are meant to evoke feelings rather than characterisation. I was sat here for hours completely stuck on what to write, so guess what I did? I wrote a prose poem about writers block!
No matter what your state of mind is, remember that there is always something to write about!
So I found these great poem starters on a site called Creative Writing Now which are ideas you can write poems about and some of them I can’t wait to try out such as the one about being underwater. Here they are:
- A particular color
- Being underwater
- A person whose life you’re curious about
- Your mother’s perfume
- Falling asleep or waking up
- Growing older
- The feeling of getting lost in a book
- How to know if you’re in love
- A bad dream
- A ghost
- Your city, town, or neighborhood
- An important life choice you’ve made
- Spring, summer, fall, or winter
- Something most people see as ugly but which you see as beautiful
- Becoming a parent
- An event that changed you
- A place you visited — how you imagined it beforehand, and what it was actually like
- The ocean
- The speed of light
- A voodoo doll
- Reflections on a window
- A newspaper headline
- Your greatest fear
- Your grandmother’s hands
- A particular toy you had as a child
- Being invisible
- A time you felt homesick
- Having an affair, or discovering your partner is having one
- A favorite food and a specific memory of eating it
- An imaginary city
- Driving with the radio on
- Life in an aquarium
- Walking with your eyes closed
- What a computer might daydream about
- Time travel
- Brothers or sisters
- Your job, or a job you’ve had
- Leaving home
- A zoo
- A historical event from the perspective of someone who saw it firsthand (You will have to do some research for this).
- Holding your breath
- Intimacy and privacy
- A time you were tempted to do something you feel is wrong
- Physical attraction to someone
- A superstition you have
- Someone you admire
So whilst in my Writer’s Workshop lesson, an author came in to speak to us and gave me this lovely technique, which has helped me since write a short story and also a poem!
First of all you shut your eyes. Imagine yourself led down. Where are you led? What’s the weather like? Take notice of your surroundings. Each time someone does this, they imagine themselves somewhere completely different. I imagined myself in a dark field at night, whereas my friend imagined herself led on a beach.
After taking notice of your surroundings (Eyes still shut) turn your head to the left, there is a shadow approaching. Wait for it to get closer. What or whom is it? When they reach you, what do they want? Again I imagined my cat who had died years back approaching me, whereas my friend imagined a boy.
From this I managed to get a short story about going to a field to visit my dead cat every night, because I couldn’t let her go. I asked my friend to do this technique and wrote a poem from her experience.
I was once told to pick something and then write a poem relating to it. There are many you can choose from such as:
- TV shows
I chose water and here is my poem:
The rain was a mirror of my life. As I looked down at my feet, I
was submerged in a pool of water. The puddles reflected my face,
showing the true me. I threw a stone in the puddle; it rippled
and discarded my face. The rain pattered on the ground, like the
sound of my beating heart. Looking into a shop window, my face was
undisguised. Rain was reflected falling down my face like
teardrops. I wiped my face, but the rain carried on dripping down
from the sky in a wave of sadness. Memories flooded back to me
like a whirlpool of the past.
1. Open up your mind – work for enjoyment, not obligation.
2. Be enthusiastic and have passion for your subject matter.
3. Always write things down, as soon as you think of them. Don’t assume you’ll remember it later.
4. Write bad and allow yourself to fail. This could become your first draft to a successful piece of writing.
5. Be messy. Use colour and paints etc to get you into a creative mood.
6. Keep a notebook next to your bed and pay attention to your dreams.
7. Read books about other authors to find out how they find creativity.
8. Listen to music. Listen to the words, feelings and also take notice of what imagery you see.
9. Learn a new technique such as a different genre or writing style – for all you know, you could be really good at it!
10. Get new gear, such as pens and notebooks that you really want to use!
11. Play the ‘what if’ game.
12. Look at old ideas, because if they weren’t good, then you wouldn’t remember them.
I find writing for young people very difficult. I can write for young adults, but no younger than that. I have found a very helpful tip though. First you need to imagine yourself back when you were a child and think about things such as what was important to you at that age, challenges you faced and where you enjoying going on day trips. Then you write a starter paragraph and once you have finished, you go back through that paragraph and underline the words you didn’t know at that age. You’ll be surprised by how many you use!