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Inspired Creative Writing


First excerpt | Inspired Creative Writing

This is the first excerpt from Inspired Creative Writing by Alexander Gordon Smith from the brisk and entertaining 52 Brilliant Ideas series. This month, the first chapter, Limbering Up:

Limbering up

Looking down at that blank page can send tsunami-sized shivers down your spine, but don't give in to the temptation to run for cover screaming, victory is just a scribble away.

The blank page is a monster, far worse than any Hollywood nightmare.

The blank page wages a war of fear and ridicule. It taunts you, it tells you it will never be filled, that anything you write will be a mere shadow of what's gone before. But be brave, take the plunge, and remember that this villain can be vanquished with a simple stroke of your pen.


A common mistake when facing up to this immense white expanse is to believe that you can decorate it with a masterpiece straight away. The blank page wants you to think like this, as it's the first step to obliterating your confidence and self-respect. If you try to go for the big one first time, if you think you can wipe the smug expression from that blank with an instant work of sheer genius, then chances are after a few lines you will surrender and spend your days as a remorseful prisoner of war.

Here's an idea for you

Do this every day. Take a blank sheet of paper, and just write for a set time at a set time. With each passing day your sketches should become more solid and less hesitant, as your confidence builds. Pick random subjects to write about and make sure you include the details, however small. When you feel up to it, start to put the bits and pieces you have been writing into a short story or a poem. You should find that the details you thought were unnecessary enable you to paint a vivid picture of something you've always taken for granted.



Most successful writers will tell you that a conflict with the blank page must be a war of attrition, not a full-on nuclear strike. The only path to victory is to gradually convert that white expanse into a page of words, your words. They don't have to be a masterpiece. In fact, they don't even have to be a story, or a poem, or a screenplay, they just have to make sense to you. Begin with random words and convert them into sentences - let them lead you. Before you know it, the blank page has shrunk, its taunts are fainter, mere whispers, and then it's gone. Don't think about what you're writing - nobody but you is ever going to see it - just keep that pen moving or those keys tapping until your old adversary has vanished. Those stuttered fragments will become paragraphs, then pages, and after a while you'll wonder why on earth that innocuous white sheet of processed wood was giving you the cold sweats.

It's all very well jotting down scraps, but how do you get those 'Eureka' ideas? IDEA 2, Taking the plunge, gives a few clues.

Try another idea...



OK, it's easy for me to say 'just write', but if you are still sitting facing the first page of your notepad or that virgin screen, then it may not seem so simple. The first thing to do is to get rid of the idea that you are about to start writing a finished piece. Don't try and carve out a first line of absolute genius, or write the beginnings of an epic tale you've had in your head for years, as you'll be putting yourself under an unhealthy amount of pressure. Instead, start writing a few words about the last relative that visited, your most memorable holiday, the state of your neighbour's garden, the last great argument you had.

Take practically any topic you like - if your mind is still blank, make a note of any sounds you can hear or sights from your window, or just open a dictionary at a random page and pick the first recognisable word. And once you've got that subject just start writing. Don't stop, don't edit, just gear yourself towards writing as much as possible in four or five minutes. Once you've started charging forwards, you'll find the words come more and more easily.

Defining idea...

'Writing is easy; all you have to do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.'

GENE FOWLER, writer and director

Brilliant Ideas - Inspired creative writing

How did it go?

Q I can beat the blank page monster sometimes but on other days I dive behind the sofa quivering. Any suggestions, other than therapy?

A Writing practice needs discipline. Like Virginia Woolf, who could only write in the morning, you need to find a time of day that you usually have free and make yourself write. That's right, make yourself. Even if you don't want to, write for a few minutes. Before long, you should settle into a routine and begin to really make the most of your writing time. If you find it difficult to get started again day after day, then cheat - leave out the last paragraph of whatever you are writing about each session, or leave the last sentence unfinished. This way you have a rolling start the following day.

Q I feel like I'm wasting time writing about random trivial things. When can I write my masterpiece?

A All in good time! These short sessions work wonders for your ability to write, keeping your creative juices flowing and your brain limbered up. On top of this, they train you to observe the all-important close detail that makes your work believable, and provide a mine of character sketches and detailed observations that you can return to in order to fine-tune your work.

Q It's so impersonal writing about everyday objects. It's not like I'm big-headed, but can't I just write about moi?

A You might be surprised just how much of what you have written about a random, impersonal object is related to your own unique experience of life. These short sessions will trigger off memories and thoughts long forgotten, allowing you to enrich your work.


The second excerpt

Inspired Creative Writing by Alexander Gordon Smith is published  as part of the 52 Brilliant Ideas series by Infinite Ideas. To buy this book please visit Amazon.