Letter to a young creative writer

Read and write as much as possible

This is to discover what kind of creative writing you would like to do. Most people will tell you to write the kind of things you like to read.

Some of the choices would be:

  • Fiction: short stories, novels, short-shorts
  • Nonfiction: Personal essays, magazine features, memoir, journaling, blogging, travel essays, nature writing
  • Poetry: Prose poems, haiku, sonnets, verse, and many more types

It might take many years and lots of writing before you know what you enjoy writing the most. You don’t have to pick one kind or genre…many people write fiction, articles, and poetry, or some combination, but you might discover that your writing “voice” is best suited to one genre or type.

Don’t worry too much about finding your writing “voice” at this point. You will discover that over the course of your being a creative writer.

Spark your Imagination

Creative writer

Unsplash.com — Riley Mccullough

No matter what kind of creative writing you decide you enjoy, finding ways to connect to your imagination is key.

Some writers use their dreams as a starting point, like Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein.

Other writers may start with photographs like Ranson Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Many writers like Henry David Thoreau, Annie Dillard, and Edward Abbey use nature to spark their imagination.

Still, others have started writing from artwork. This practice is called, exphrasis. Homer, Keats, and Ruskin are known for this type of writing.

Take some time to explore each of these sources of creativity. Also, don’t be afraid to start with a line of existing poetry or other writing and use this as your jumping off point. Sometimes we need to have some words on the page to get the creative writing juices flowing.

Learning from the Masters

creative writer

Unsplash.com — Lia Leslie

And speaking of the blank page, some writers suggest that you write out poems and fiction to learn how each sentence or phrase is constructed. Not too many people have patience for this, but if you want to understand how great writers write, there is no substitute for learning how to write a masterful sentence.

Indeed, many poetry creative writing classes still require that students memorize whole poems and then recite them. It is standard practice for students learning to paint to try to duplicate a masterpiece. Why should it be different for the creative writer?

The Disobedient Writer: Break the Rules and Free Your Story
An unconventional guide to taking your fiction writing beyond the same old formula and telling unforgettable stories

Seize the day!

When you get older, you will discover that a large part of being a creative writer is finding the time for it. Now is the best time for you to build in good writing habits — write every day! — because before you know it, you will have a job, school, kids, and all kinds of other distractions that will compete for your energy and focus.


“And then there is inspiration. Where does it come from? Mostly from the excitement of living. I get it from the diversity of a tree or the ripple of the sea, a bit of poetry, the sighting of a dolphin breaking the still water and moving toward me, anything that quickens you to the instant. And whether one would call this inspiration or necessity, I really do not know.” –Martha Graham, Blood Memories

What has inspired you to write? Brainstorm and write down as many of these things as you can. Pick one of these and write from the emotion it invokes in you. It is okay to write from anger or sadness. Any strong emotion is a great starting point for your creative writing. And don’t forget that you have a body! Write how it feels in your body and what your senses are experiencing in that moment.

The best writing is in the details.

Dare to be yourself.