Novel Writing – Too Many Characters?


by Annette Young

As many of you will know, I spend a great deal of my time providing manuscript critiques or editing manuscripts that come in through the Creative Competitor or  Creative1 Publishing and I often see a very common mistake, that of having far too many characters.  Although there’s no hard and fast rule as to the number of characters within a novel, you have to think from the perspective of the reader. Where there are many characters, it is difficult for the reader to truly connect with any or all of them.

It also makes it difficult for the writer.

How much emphasis can you place on each character if you have a great many milling around within the plot? Each character should have a definitive role to play so you need to consider this. It’s true that some books do have a lot of characters and it’s up to the writer to be able to craft and then pull the layers of these creations together to ensure that they add to the storyline rather than to detract from it. In a novel, it is possible to have main characters and secondary characters and those, as I always think of them, who are bit players, these are the characters that are only relevant in certain scenes so the readers do not need to know them that well.

if you are new to creative writing and have the desire to start writing a novel, try to limit the number of characters and make it a little easier on yourself as a starting point. Above all else,  spend time developing these characters so that they feel real as you are writing and so you are able to portray them with confidence. At the core of crafting 3-dimensional characters is your ability to lay the foundations of these beings and to bring them to life slowly by adding essential layers until you truly believe in them. You don’t need lots of  characters to make it interesting for the reader, you simply need a good plot and strong characters that are believable.

If you feel that your characters are weak or that you have too many in your novel, spend some time considering the importance of each one and lose some if you need to. Spend time working on those that are intrinsic to the plot and  you’ll see the difference.  If you can, always try to view your writing through the eyes of any potential reader and assess what they will get from your story, then you’ll keep your writing and intent honest.

Want to learn the art of novel writing? Click here.

Want to learn more about characterisation? Click here.

Creative Writing – Hard Work Pays Off

Creative Writing Tuition

by Annette Young

Annette YoungI’ve always expressed the opinion that if someone really wishes to learn the techniques of creative writing and, to write professionally, they can. They just need to  develop the right mind-set. This means they have to  overcome any  creative obstacles that block their way to success i.e. time, patience, family or work demands. It’s not rocket science to think that if they can find a little bit of time each day, this will keep the creative brain cells well-oiled and improvement will follow.

Going back some (many years) now, I used to tell my creative writing students in my college classes that they needed to write little and often. Many took this advice and there was no doubting that their work and their understanding of the techniques began to improve each week. But then, it was a case of seeing them just once a week and leaving them to their own creative pursuits in between sessions.

Nowadays, I provide a lot of online coaching and this works really well. Sometimes, it involves a Skype session and at other times, students wish to work just via email. Just recently, I have been coaching someone after I had provided a professional critique of his book. It was not a bad read, but, the writing lacked depth and it needed some work.

As he wanted to publish it soon, he had a choice.  Hire a professional editor like myself who could work on the structure of the book and bring it to life, or learn the techniques himself and make the edits.  I was delighted that he actually wanted to learn the techniques and, boy, 3 to 4 sessions a week via email  made a huge difference. His writing abilities have accelerated through the roof. Continue reading “Creative Writing – Hard Work Pays Off”

Keep Those Ideas Coming

Annette Youngby Annette Young

I am constantly asked how to keep creative ideas flowing and yes,  this can be difficult if you feel overwhelmed by the day to day problems in life, feel tired or, just low in spirits. The trick I have found at those times is to take myself out of the office and go for a walk. It may not be a high-tech answer but for me, it clears the cobwebs from my brain.

A change of scenery, a cup of strong coffee and a chance to observe life from your chosen spot is often all you need.

It can help if you can train your brain to respond creatively on demand though. The trick here is to force yourself to write even if you don’t want to. Yes, it’s the last thing you will feel like doing but, once you get past the first stages of, ‘I hate this,’ you’ll find your brain starts to respond. The more you do this, the easier it gets to tap into creativity.

Start to think and feel like a writer. I’ve always said that I live and breathe the written word and if you are writer through and through, you’ll do the same. Even when you are not writing, you are observing life and there can be no better way to get ideas by the masses. Fiction and non-fiction requires the experiences and observations of life. I’ve always said, no experience is ever wasted. At the very least, it becomes fodder for your writing.

If you really want to write with heart and with conviction, go and live a little. It will freshen up your ideas and your abilities no end.


Creative Interpretation – The Nuts and Bolts of Idea Generation

creative writing

by Annette Young

Author Annette YoungCreative writing demands many skills but interpreting a scene in a unique way is  a necessary talent to have.  This is why many skilled wordsmiths fail to do well in a writing competition or, when sending stories out in the hopes of getting published. To stand out creatively in today’s pool of eager writers, you have to train your imagination to look for more than the obvious. If you can keep this in mind, you will naturally stretch your imagination a little more.

Take the shower scene photo published  here. It has so much potential in terms of stimulating the mind but often, writers jump on the first few story ideas without stretching them out and pushing and pulling the story into a unique shape. What’s the first thing you think of when you look at it? For me, I considered the vulnerability of the woman. I imagined someone breaking into her house and catching her at her most vulnerable. Let’s face it, no-one really wants to be naked in front of a burglar.

Shower scenes lend themselves well to the horror or crime genre because we all know that vision and hearing is limited when the water is running. We also feel vulnerable and writers who work in these genres know this. They take an everyday scene and add tension and suspense. But, if you were given a photo such as this to stimulate your creative writing skills and you had to compete against others, horror or crime may not be unique.

So, what else could you do with this type of scene? Erotica of course, also springs to mind. This is a popular market in which to write and, it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to take this photo and craft an idea worthy of an erotic fiction market. But even so, erotic writing is a market and not a story, so what would make yours different? You have to think about your story and understand how it will make your readers feel.

Let’s run through a few general ideas:

What if this character turned out to be the burglar who had broken into a house?

What if this character was being filmed – with or without her knowledge?

What if this character was being stalked? Private detective or by an unknown admirer?

What if this character had been injured and the shower scene became part of the aftermath of something traumatic?

What if the character was getting ready to go on a hot date?

What if the character slipped and had no way of getting help?

What if someone left an ominous message in the steam on the bathroom window?

These are just very quick ideas but there are a great many options for the savvy creative writer. Just remember, it doesn’t always have to be about the (in this case) shower scene, but the character and the events that unfold. The scene could be a small part of but not necessarily, the central core of the story. Scenes can be used to create intimacy, to instil tension or fear or, to invite the reader to take a step closer to the story.

There has to be a healthy mix between imagination and writing technique. The most wonderful story idea in the world will not get published if the writer’s ability to hold attention and to progress the story is insufficient. In the same way, a truly talented writer will not get far if their imagination is stifled and they are not prepared to commit to their idea generation.

Next time you are looking to use a photo as inspiration, take the time to develop your ideas and stretch your imagination to the full. You may find it really pays off!

Fiction Masterclass

Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? JOIN THE FICTION MASTERCLASS

Shower Image: Unsplash – Joe deSousa

Creative Ideas – Think Outside the Box

Idea generation

by Annette Young

Sitting in front of your computer with little idea as to what to write about is no fun. If this happens to you, then you are not alone. Sadly, creative ideas do not always respond to the demand of the blank screen anymore than they did with the blank sheet of paper. Of course, a little planning and preparation before your allocated writing time will pay dividends.

If you are really stuck and your mind is in a complete fog, it can pay to approach idea generation from a different angle. I’ve long said that creative ideas come from all around you. Let’s be realistic, the moment you step outside the door, you are bombarded with potential ideas from all types of sources. A conversation with a neighbour may spark off an idea and act as a trigger for a great idea. Open your eyes and mind as you walk through your local town centre, become aware of what is around you. Look up at the buildings around you. Notice a bricked up window – think about why it might have been done. Or, notice little alleyways or old doorways that incite interest. Go walking in the countryside and become more receptive to the natural scenery which can act like a salve to a fraught mind. Ideas really are there waiting for you to spot them.

But, sometimes, you have to shake it up a bit. If you think outside the box, you can find other ways to increase your creative mojo.


Whether you love it or hate it, Facebook is filled with ideas. Not only can you see interactions between family and friends but also, read so many different posts, and then there are the memes and photos which should spark off lots of great ideas.

Online Forums

If you have signed up for any online forums, you’ll know that people don’t always stick to the main subject. Lots of conversations and ideas can develop from just reading about the concerns of others. Often, current issues pop up time and time again, but there’s often a whole lot more too. Even if these do not meet your current needs, write down some topics and you have a collection of potential ideas for later. 


I’m including Amazon here as fodder for ideas but it could be any online bookshop. All you need to do is browse through and allow your brain to take any idea to the next level.  You are not copying of course, it’s just a starting point. The more you can develop, tweak and adapt it the better. Once your mind has a grasp of the concept, give it free rein.

There are so many ways in which to create wonderful creative ideas but, if you are really stuck, try the above and see where these ideas take you.

But why wait? You can be actively inspired if you join Write, Learn and Publish.

Write, Learn and Publish

Are you ready to write well and often? Take a look at our Write, Learn and Publish membership and learn with the best. CLICK HERE.



Your Way to Creative Writing Success

Writing Success

by Annette Young

When you first start creative writing, it can seem like a mammoth journey to take before you feel comfortable with your writing and can start to believe in your own abilities. It also takes a while to find your ‘voice’ and style. Part of your creative journey is to find out your writing strengths and to build the foundations of your skillset but you need to also accept any weaknesses that may be present currently and to spend time working on those areas which you may not enjoy quite so much. As with anything in life, sometimes we veer away from those tasks or elements which are not quite so appealing.

Let others see your work. This can be scary if you are not confident but it’s part of your progression. There’s a sense of joy and accomplishment when others read and enjoy your work and then you can progress to the next stage of your development by having a professional critique. This will enable you to understand any work that is required before you even think about publication.

It’s also a good idea to meet other writers. Join a writing group if you can or, team up with a like-minded individual and work on some writing projects together. This can help take the isolating factors away from writing. There is always something to learn in creative writing and this is good because it means you will not get bored but continuously strive forward learning new techniques until you can think and feel like a writer.

Never be scared to try out new writing techniques. You may naturally be drawn to one element of writing but in fact, your natural talent lies in another area. When teaching at college level, I found many of my students had fabulous writing skills but they had never even tried those aspects of writing before. When you try out new techniques, you increase your ability to write but you also expand your mind. Most of all, have fun with your writing. Set yourself mini-goals, write to deadlines, enter writing challenges, have a writing party where you have friends and families attending creative sessions.

The more time you can spend creatively, the more instinctive your writing will become. 

Do you need help with your writing? Try our Fiction Masterclass, Novel Writing Blueprint or, any of our Creative Writing Courses.

Looking Back Creatively


by Annette Young

I have long advised writers to cherish all of their writing attempts and to have a file – whether offline or online so that they can dip into those past realms of creativity, to remember the influences of the time and to even cast a smile at those early attempts. But looking back also provides a fantastic way to chart your personal progress. 

I did just this today. 

The Creative Competitor site is absolutely huge. Due to former technical problems, we had to strip back a lot of the content (and by this I mean un-publish) so that we could determine where the core technical problems existed, and so we came across a huge amount of long forgotten content. Even though, the technical problems were resolved, going through all of the old content is a massive job and still a work in progress and today, I dedicated an hour to the task changing categories and sub-categories and eliminating out of date writing techniques and tips so that the content is accurate and easier to find. While  doing so, some of my early articles emerged from the depths of the site and made me smile. 

My early writing style was noticeable and it was all to easy to recall those early influences. Although I rarely have time to blink, let alone look back, it certainly can be satisfying to do so. Not only did I recognise my progress in writing but it was an enticing reminder of those creative moments and I could visualise myself sitting in my old office, typing away on one of my first computers, still learning all the technical aspects as well as trying to write ‘THE ARTICLE’ that would gain me early recognition. I remembered all my hopes and inspirations at that time and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane.  

When I think back to how far my own creative journey has come and, is still continuing to grow, it simply amazes me. Little did I know right in my early days of trying to write professionally just where my creative endeavours would take me. I never imagined years later having a website like The Creative Competitor, I never imagined I would become a professional writing tutor teaching adult learners at college level, I never imagined that I would write full-time for a living, although that was something I yearned for. I think all writers should rummage through their files and recapture those early days, the excitement, the anticipation of publication and the sweat and tears when those annoying rejection slips arrived.

The realms of publishing have changed substantially in the last decade but I bet your writing has done so too. 

When you look back you may be shocked at the changes. You may think that some of your writing lacked a professional touch or that the ideas were weak or that your stories lacked depth but that’s just fine. That’s part of your journey. Re-use ideas by re-writing them. Compare the old with the new and add the wealth of experience to your words too. 

Looking back creatively can really help you to progress and to re-kindle your love of the written word. 

The Writing Life


Life as a writer

by Annette Young

Someone asked me the other day why I write. It’s not a simple answer, it’s complex because it is such an integral part of me. When I tried to explain that I couldn’t halt the sway of characters or ideas that popped into my mind, that I lived and breathed my role as a writer because not only was it my career but I truly loved it and needed it, I could see them mentally calculating my sanity, or, at the very least, wondering how I was able to function in the real world.

But this is both the joy and the plight of the writer.

We are firmly contained within our own thought processes and life outside of our creative imaginings is often not as vibrantly rich or as fulfilling. I’m often guilty of switching off and slipping into my own make-believe zone as a potential whopper of an idea comes to mind. I often return to the present wide-eyed, wondering what I have missed. 

Not everyone can understand what it means to be a writer. Certainly, some people may not be supportive of your creative drive. This is because it is an alien occupation to many. It’s isolating and, time-consuming. You need to slip into the story-line, see it and feel it and become a watcher on the side lines of your own story. For family and friends, your writing passion may be just an annoyance, it takes you away from the family unit, it means you don’t listen to them or notice when those little jobs need doing. Often there’s a disbelief that it is possible to support yourself or to make a living through the written word. But whether you are as yet unpublished or, have started to carve out your niche as a writer, it’s more about the enjoyment of writing and of being able to satisfy those creative urges.

I think this….write because you need to, write because it feels good and write because you cannot imagine ever doing anything else. 

Game, Set and Publication

Success at writing


Author Annette Young

I’m a huge tennis fan and even though I couldn’t get to Wimbledon this year, I have managed to take a little bit of time off to watch some of my favourite tennis players. Throughout this first week, watching the players embrace what must be a nerve-wracking experience – they reveal their skills, expertise and mistakes all on a public stage.

I found myself thinking that as writers, we are far luckier as we learn our craft, we can make our mistakes in private and the only witness is the sometimes overflowing waste-paper bin that holds captive our written mistakes. But, there is one thing that tennis players at this level of the game do so well, they don’t give in and they always believe that they can win. Nothing is more true than the tennis match of Serena Williams vs. Heather Watson. Steely determination gave Watson a fantastic chance to topple the women’s number one player from her lofty perch.

All credit to Williams for not giving up and for having great belief in her abilities. There’s no doubt they are plagued by doubts, William’s almost looked defeated at one point, but deep inside, these are professionals, they live and breathe tennis, they enhance their shot range, upgrade their skills, but they work on their mental focus too. They believe that they can do it. They visualise that coveted trophy in their hands and even when tested, they give their all.

So this led me to thinking about how much effort we put into achieving our publishing goals. Conviction is all-important and you have to consider whether you truly believe in your writing abilities. Are you determined to see your name on the front cover of a book or to earn your living from the written word? If you don’t believe, then you won’t achieve your true potential. It really is that simple. You have to study the work of great writers, analyse what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, all it takes is strength of mind to take you beyond being a good writer. You might not be in the public domain as you carve out your career, but your intent should be no less than that of these tennis players.

Every word must count and every written project polished to its maximum potential.

Take a tip from the great achievers of the world – believe in yourself. This can escalate your potential to dizzy new heights. You’ll never win that coveted prize of publication if you don’t do something about it.

Freelance Writing and Creative Writing

Author Annette Young

The advice given to new writers is often to carve out a niche area and stick to it and they are right…. to a degree. But  I remember when I took my first serious steps towards writing, I didn’t know what niche area to focus on – freelance writing or creative writing, frankly, I wanted to do it all. I was brimming over with ideas and just loved the experience of writing and learning. I tried to focus on just one project, but it was impossible.

I tried writing poetry and won some writing competitions so that was exciting and I loved writing fiction, managing to have some of my stories published, I enjoyed plotting and planning novels but, I also enjoyed the research aspect of non-fiction and the analytic approach. So, dilemma.

I couldn’t narrow the remit because I enjoyed it all. I found I had to work on several different projects at a time because it kept my motivation and enthusiasm sharp. It did dilute my ability to quickly complete projects but I was able to enjoy my writing, to learn lots of techniques and to make sense of the whole creative writing process. I believe that working in this way played to my strengths, I was good at organising and juggling my workload on a daily basis anyway and this sort of frantic pace prevented me from getting bored.

Years later, I still work this way. Admittedly, I write full-time so it’s much easier but I have lots of different writing projects through clients as well as my Creative Competitor work, but this is how I work best. I do work feverishly on some of my own writing projects in between others, but I can dip in and out of these niches to suit my needs. Freelance writing gives me the variety I need because I can be working on any number of projects – from articles, books and even scripts and then when I get some downtime, I try to indulge in creative writing because it’s pleasurable and relaxing.

So, from this, you can see  it is possible to cultivate a career in both freelance writing and creative writing. I do both professionally and I love it. The variety keeps my brain stimulated, my experiences in life fuel my writing in a creative sense and I get to live where I want in the world. I’m chained to a very portable desk.

You do have to be determined and dedicated to the craft of writing to make this work for you and not against you, but it’s possible. I work very long hours, I’m single, my daughter is grown up,  so I don’t have to do set hours and devote time to family needs but I work to suit how I feel. If I feel like taking time off, I schedule it. For me though, writing is more than a career, it’s an aboslute passion. I care about the end result and give 100% to each area of my career. I do think that you have to work to your strengths in life. You may like to focus on one project and learn everything about it you can, that’s great, other people will dip in and out of different niche areas and gradually learn and many will change their focus in time. I just choose to absorb myself in the projects to hand (I often cherry-pick the freelance writing projects so I enjoy them) and dip in and out of the required mind-set.

In short, you can enjoy freelance writing and creative writing if that’s what you want, but whichever writing endeavours you choose, commit to it and give it everything you have. It will mean juggling your writing time if you have lots of projects, but you will learn to be efficient and you’ll learn what suits you. That’s the real secret.

Creative Writing – When the Words Come Tumbling Down


Author Editor Annette Young

by Annette Young

Creative writing can be a wonderfully relaxing pastime but more than that, it can be therapeutic too and used to enrich your writing in ways than you cannot imagine unless you connect with your buried emotions. We all have moments of sadness and emotional pain – whether through grief, relationship breakdowns or simply moments when life frustratingly goes wrong. Trapped emotions can be damaging – we can remain stagnant if not careful.Life throws a myriad of obstacles and often unwarranted events in our way and this pain can intensify and remain trapped within.

If you want to use creative writing as a type of therapy, then pour your heart out, get every emotion and frustration out of your system. Don’t worry about the result, it doesn’t have to read well and it shouldn’t. You are capturing every ounce of feeling, releasing the injustices, the pain, regret and anger. The moment may be intense, it might be painful, but afterwards comes exhausted release whether your emotions are newly raw or, have been contained for years.

When you are finally done, read back over your writing and try to make sense of it. Note the words used, any disjointed sentences, the purity of feeling – good or bad. Not only will you feel a sense of release, you will have every aspect of your inner turmoil captured on paper. It may not make for comfortable reading, but believe me, it is better out than in. Place the paper to one side, hide it away and leave it for a few weeks or months until you feel ready to review it.  When my mother died some years ago now, it was the single most wounding moment of my life. She’d battled for years against illness after illness, but I was convinced she was invincible. When she went into hospital for something minor, (or so we’d thought) and never came out again, the shock was overwhelming. I remained in a blocked state for at least 6 months. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t feel, I simply went through the motions of life.  I had been her carer for a long time so the bonds were strong. Suddenly, I had so much time on my hands yet I was trapped in a bubble of disbelief.

Friends told me to not write, they said I would always relate my writing with the pain of that time, but, I had to.It was the only release I had and something that I could tap into easily. Initially, it enabled me to block out the feelings even more, I went back to work, I took on new writing projects – it was my job, but my emotions were carefully shut away. I wrote with the confidence of one who could do a job without giving too much of myself. I got by.  One day , suddenly, out of the blue, I felt ready and then the words came tumbling out, they flowed for page after page. I felt the anger release and the healing begin. So you see, I strongly believe that by capturing pure emotion in its rawest form, it is so beneficial to our health, well-being and sanity, but more, by being able to feel so deeply, it makes us able to write with heart.

Creative writing when done well, can bring tears of sadness or joy to the readers’ minds. Beautifully crafted words written with sincerity evoke deep feeling in others, I don’t think I have ever written so well following the release of my emotions. Now when I write emotional scenes, I give myself up to it, so each word carries a little bit of me with it. It’s the only way to write with conviction.

Whether creative writing is a hobby or you would like it to become a career one day, you need to allow your experiences, painful or joyous, to come out – never keep feelings trapped inside. Not only can writing be your therapeutic friend, your emotions will enable you to connect with your readers on such an intrinsic level that they will never forget your words.

Keeping the Creative Writing Ball Rolling


Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

Picture the scene, your imagination is burning bright, ideas are cascading into your conscious mind one after another and the words rush in thick and fast….isn’t that just the greatest feeling? The moment when you are in the zone and your story and characters behave.

No-one enjoys having to wrestle with a stray word or a stilted sentence, we’d all give anything to have the creative floodgates open on a single command, but of course, it doesn’t always work that way. So what’s the best way to keep the creative writing ball rolling?

Really, it’s quite simple. When the writing processes are oiled and operating at optimal levels, don’t stop, even when you have finished with any current project, get started immediately on another, capitalise on that creative energy. It could be that you start planning the next day’s writing project, or, you create the opening paragraph of a new story, there’s nothing worse than blank page syndrome when creativity has packed up and left. Use the creative flow to fuel new projects so that it saves that ‘pulling hair out’ sense of frustration.

Equally, the more that you write and train your brain to respond to your simple commands, ‘stop procrastinating and write,’ the easier you will find it to slip into that imaginative state more regularly. Dragging those reluctant words out from your brain and capturing them onto paper becomes a little more effortless each time.

There will always be days when writing is tough,but sometimes it’s worth working through the pain, because the results can be far better than you can imagine. So keeping the creative writing ball rolling means optimising your potential while creativity is fluid or, assuming a dogged determination and working through it on those days when inspiration is nowhere to be seen.

No? Forget It! Live Life to the Full

Live Life

Annette Young Author

by Annette Young

When I was a child, I was always told no. Oh, how I hated that word. I saw it as a continuous effort to scupper my plans to explore and to redefine my boundaries.  I may have only been four or five years old at the time, but when you have a determined nature and an adventurous streak, the word no becomes the worst word in the world.

In reality, it meant that throughout my childhood I was held back from escaping out beyond the front gate and unable to experience potentially wonderful adventures with friends and, for my waywardness of trying to sneak out, I was continuously threatened to be sent to my room. This was in my early years and then, subsequently, I learned the meaning of being, ‘grounded’ in my teenage years. As a six year old, I could escape past the newly placed side gate however high my father made it or, irrespective of the number of locks he insisted on adding to it. I was able to clamber over it and to escape. Ah, freedom. It may have beckoned but I never seemed to make it far before being hauled back in.

In my vocabulary, the word no translated to, ‘well, there’s a small chance it’s worth the punishment’. Perhaps climbing out of the bedroom window when I was 15 and running off to meet a boyfriend was over-stepping the mark a little bit, especially since I got caught trying to climb back up onto the front porch in a bid to sneak back into my room. Game over – grounded for two months.

I was a determined child irrespective of my parent’s plans to keep me safe and, in my eyes, tethered to the home base, but worse than their over-protectiveness, was my increasing awareness that there would be things that apparently I couldn’t do. This extended into my creativity.

From an early age, I was constantly writing and drawing. When exciting ventures such as rampaging around the neighbourhood has been stopped, you have to find other fun things to do. So, I would create cartoons and make comic book strips and my creative efforts would be passed around to my friends so they could read with great delight, (sorry if I bullied anyone into reading them) but when you love what you do, you are prepared to go all out and get it and this meant, needing an audience, even if I only wanted an appreciative one. Importantly, I learned that I had a talent for writing and drawing and even more importantly, I loved it.

Most children dream of having adventurous jobs, and I wanted to be both an artist and a writer. My imagination soared with the potential life I could have, but, I can remember categorically being told that to be either required an extraordinary amount of luck and it just didn’t happen for most people. This infuriated me beyond belief – as you can imagine.

I would sit for hours writing and drawing and I knew it was something that I could do. I didn’t want to hear all of the reasons why I shouldn’t do it or, why it wouldn’t get me anywhere. Like most parents, mine wanted me to have a secure future and the messages were clear, study hard – and only view creative pastimes as hobbies. Hmm. That wasn’t going to happen. My dreams of sneaking off to London to go to Art School were firmly squashed however as were my plans to escape to Edinburgh at the age of 16 and become an artist. There were always reasons to say no. Even the best laid plans and creative ventures were too risky.

Now, I know as an adult that my parents were merely trying to protect me from the knock-backs in life. Of course, no-one welcomes rejection and traditional publishing threw a few of those slips my way in my teenage years. But surely, to achieve anything in life you have to work towards it and realise that the greatest achievements are unlikely to come gift-wrapped? Although I was determined to get my work published and the need to do so only increased throughout my late twenties, I often wonder if the concerns of my parents made me afraid to take risks and become a little reluctant to send my work out there.

If we live in fear of something, we ruin our chances of succeeding. I certainly became more aware of the possibility of failure and this unfortunately continued in a creative sense once I indulged in romantic liaisons. Partner’s at that time thought I was mad to even try, in other words, who was I to think I could be a professional writer? Later partner’s saw my determination to ‘make it’ as a writer only as a threat to the relationship.

The rejection letters I received certainly knocked me for six. I do remember crying – and my dreams shattering all around me. But, then I also remember giving myself a talking to and carefully piecing my dreams back together bit by bit and vowing to make it to publication whatever it took. Sweat, blood and tears, I was prepared to go all the way. Now, I have always been a fairly determined character, luckily, but many people may not have the same determination or, stubborn strength of character. If people are continuously told no throughout life, no wonder they give up. If people have a dream, they should go for it. If they fail through their own efforts, or a lack of skill, well, maybe lesson learned, or, perhaps they dig deep, they grit their teeth and they try again and again until they break through that barrier called no.

When you are told that you are just one person out of millions who have similar talents and the chances of succeeding are limited, it’s not conducive to encouraging that person to strive forward. It doesn’t matter that parents are merely trying to protect their children from potential hurts and failures, if you don’t try, you don’t get.

That’s always been my motto.

I say this to every creative individual out there, if you want it, work for it and do your utmost to achieve it. Other people should not limit your potential, however well-meaning. So what if you fail in one area? Take your talents all the way. You’ve achieved far more experience and skills through trying than if you listen to people telling you that you need to be satisfied with your lot. What’s the worst that can happen? You get to dine out and regale your exciting journey through life – mishaps, highlights and all and you can laugh at your own tenacity.

Next time you hear the words no you can’t, stomp on them.

Creative Writing – Use It or Lose It

Jugglingby Annette Young

I am the first to admit it’s not always easy to plan your creative writing pursuits and to fit them into a busy schedule but with creative writing, you have to be able to keep the techniques fresh in your mind and to allow the words to free up and flow regularly. It doesn’t matter if it’s only ten minutes a day or a couple of hours a week, if you don’t write on a consistent basis, you will stop improving and your skills will plateau out. It may be tough finding enough time in the day to blink let alone to write, but seriously, to enjoy creative writing and to improve your skills, it really is a case of use it or lose it.

Here’s some quick tips to keep your desire to write strong:

1. If you don’t have much time spare, make the most of your time by thinking about your creative ideas during those moments when it is impossible to indulge creatively. Turn that walk to the shops into an idea generating one or, if you are sitting on the bus or on the train, take a sneaky look at some of your fellow passengers and imagine what their day will be like or, where they are going. If you are called into a long and boring meeting at work, imagine something funny – perhaps a slap-stick moment and try to picture the scene. If nothing else, it will make  you smile at the thought.

2. Turn your lunch hour into a timed fiction fest. Give yourself 10 minutes of fast writing on a single idea and just let the words pour out onto the page. The end result may be excellent or, you may want to scrunch the paper up into a ball and throw it in the waste paper basket, but it doesn’t matter. You’ve opened up the creative channels.

3. If you have trouble sleeping, think of one key word – or a sentence and try to create fictional scenarios around it. If you take your mind off trying to sleep and bring your creativity to the fore, you will soon start drifting off but not before you have created some lovely ideas. If you get any really imaginative ideas, write them down quickly.

4. If you are struggling to find something to write about, invest in a copy of Challenging Creative Writing Projects (shameless plug) and you will be able to dip in and out of it at will while your brain starts pulsating with fantastic new ideas.

5. When your time is really limited, you might need an extra push to make you sit in front of a blank screen, so consider entering one of our writing competitions – here’s the latest list for you to download and peruse and spend a few minutes each day crafting an imaginative entry. Who knows, you could find that your spare hour turns into a productive and lucrative session.

6. Set yourself a serious challenge. Devise a specific word count per day or per week and make yourself sit down and write – start with 500 words a day which can be easily done in a lunch hour or before or after work. This keeps your brain oiled creatively speaking and you can increase the word count if you find that you are enjoying these sessions. Or,  join our Write, Learn and Publish membership and set yourself a challenge to learn new skills and, enter as many competitions as you like without worrying about numerous entry fees.

Creative writing is meant to be enjoyed, it’s a great stress reliever, it can be fun for all the family and is great for children to  be able to utilise their imaginations, and even when time is of a premium, if you set your mind to it, you will find that it is still possible to embark upon a creative activity and subsequently, you will feel the pleasure of your writing skills growing ever stronger.

Inspirational Creative Writing Tips

Tips for writers

Author Annette Young

By Annette Young

If you are considering a new fictional project, stop for a moment and scan through these creative writing tips first as they just might help you to increase your connection to the reader before you’ve even written one word. It pays to really consider what you are trying to achieve before you start out, spontaneous bursts of creative writing might feel wonderful but if you want the outcome to have a more professional edge, then a little contemplation can make all the difference.

These creative writing tips may seem commonsensical but put them together and consider them throughout and your fiction will be creatively stronger as a result.

1. Creating a dramatic opening is essential if you want to hook the reader but it doesn’t always have to be an action scene, instead why not consider starting with tension? The opening could be a life-threatening revelation and the reader is instantly aware that the clock is ticking and the character may or may not make it. Tension is interwoven in our lives, we all fight against it but when we use it in reality, (like using a deadline for increased inspiration) it can serve to give the story a sense of realism.

2. If you are going to start with a sense of drama, it’s good to end each chapter with a hook. This will keep the reader turning the pages as they will be desperate to see what happens next. If you are writing a short work of fiction, you can still build tension towards the climax and make it a memorable ending.

3. Don’t reveal everything to the reader. When you settle down to read a book, you don’t want to know everything at the start. You want the opening pages to be attention-grabbing and to pull you into the story, but if the writer gives it all away or makes it so predictable, why read more? Tease the reader with some carefully chosen snippets of information that will have them mulling over this news and they will become absorbed, anticipating the outcomes. Keep it fresh but believable.

4. When you craft your characters, do you know what they really want or need to achieve? If you don’t, you will just have them treading fictional water. There’s a huge difference between characters that have an aim, and those who just mill around. Think about the people you know in real life. Those who have a cause and who are determined to achieve will stand out, they may  not always be likeable in some aspects but they are memorable. Your characters  need to incite interest in some way or another. Don’t make it too easy for your characters to achieve either, throw in a few obstacles to make it interesting.

5. No characters are the same throughout. We all have layers that make up our personalities. Some people sulk when they don’t get their own way, others work harder to achieve, some people attract the wrong personality types, others create incredible friendships. Past actions and learned behaviours can make your characters act in very different ways  than might be expected. People are not always logical or in control of their emotions, but their actions are usually as a result of something.How well do you know your characters?

Find a good starting point and let the words flow with a flourish. If you have conviction in  your writing and your story, your technique will improve dramatically and so will the end result. These creative writing tips are useful but only valuable if you use them each and every time. Eventually, these tips will become instinctive and you will develop an intuitive approach to storytelling.




Writing Success – Imagine It, Touch It, Feel It.

Writing success

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

Do you dream of being a successful author imagining your very first book signing or, about clasping that first copy of your book in your hands? Perhaps you just want to see your name in print or to win your first writing competition? Everyone who engages with the written word creatively has some idea of where they want their writing abilities to take them, and writing success is possible if you can imagine it with conviction.

I know that when I started out, I wanted to become published, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to write, in fact, I tried just about everything. Going from one project to the next, ideas cascading in as I devoured each writing technique, hoping that with each new skill-set and a bit of luck, success was bound to be mine. Naive I may have been to think publishing success would drop gift-wrapped into my lap but, determination kept me striving forward.

Some of you will relate to that inner drive, that integral something that makes you need to create imaginary scenes, and dynamic and charismatic characters. I know that almost all my actions translated into how to conjure up scenes that were not only imaginable but that seemed real.

Visualising your goals is so important. It has to seem real to you before you can even start to make it happen. If you have doubts about your own potential, then you are as good as slamming the door in your own face. Everyone has doubts that holds them back but you have to put it into perspective. How much do you want writing success? As a creative writer, your imagination must be strong, you have to be able to picture success so acutely in your mind’s eye that it becomes almost a tangible thing. The more you see it, the more you can feel it and want to taste success.

What equals success for you? Everyone’s journey on the creative path is uniquely different but every obstacle is surmountable if you can approach it with determination. I used to see these stumbling blocks as a way of testing my resolve and that certainly worked for me. I surpassed my earlier goals but each day, week and month, I create new creative goals and imagine them becoming a reality too.

There is always a way to achieve your dreams, be it a book, a story or a film script. It might not be the easiest path but the harder the route, the more satisfying the taste of success.



Writing Success – Ten Minutes A Day

successful writingby Annette Young

Ten minutes a day, that really is all that is needed for writing success. In fact, I would say that the more time you have, the less productive you may be. I know it can be difficult to juggle work and family demands, I did just that for many years. I had a husband (ex now) who was grumpy if I disappeared into another room, laptop tucked under my arm and, who did not (would not understand) my need to write.

I had a full-time job and a part-time job teaching and I had already taken the first tentative steps towards writing professionally. I also had a disabled mother and as you can imagine, there were times when I had to drop everything to be with her as her health fluctuated up and down. Believe me when I say that I juggled profusely to fit everything in.

This is why I can honestly say, hand on heart, that ten minutes a day will do wonders for your writing. If you are a morning person, get up that little bit earlier and write then. I did my ten minutes during my lunch hour. I would get away from my desk and eat my sandwiches sometimes in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral. I would spend a few minutes first absorbing the life that moved around me. I soaked up the atmosphere of the ancient building, I relaxed in the beautiful grounds and I would shrug off the stresses of the day. Then, I would write as fast as I could, timing myself to see how many words I could capture.

Were those short paragraphs perfect for publication? No, of course not. Sometimes I even struggled to read my own handwriting.

On rainy days, I used to try to find a quiet corner at work and to blot out the noise of a busy office environment and to let ideas flood through me. Sometimes the words were like a hard knot in my head, at other times they poured in fluidic motion out onto paper and I felt creatively satiated.

The point I am trying to make though is that a mere ten minutes a day of concentrated writing will be enough to train your brain and to make you ultra productive when you need to write. On those days when you sit at home and have hours at your disposal to write, isn’t it typical that those are the times when words do not come? Do you imagine them deliberately resisting your desperate pleas, knowing that the more stressed you become, the less likely that they will appear. Ten minutes of successful writing is worth more than an hour of hair pulling, head scratching and lots of screwed up efforts in the waste-paper bin.

If you find that ideas do not come on demand, write down a few enticing titles the day before, even allow your mind to mull over the words, teasing out new ideas and creating a series of what-if scenarios. Spend your ten minutes writing opening paragraphs to exciting new stories and then the following day, continue to write the next paragraphs and so on. Keep your brain challenged and don’t be afraid to push yourself creatively. If you can find just ten minutes a day to write, you can be successful. You just have to make yourself work at it.

“Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] /”.

Remember Writing for Pleasure?

Author, Editor Annette Youngby Annette Young

Many freelance writers, who write full-time, will agree that to survive within the publishing world, there are constant pressures to seek out new publishing outlets and to continually strive for the regular publication of new articles.

To the outsider looking in, life may seem sweet, with hours to suit, no trudging to work in the wind and rain, or working at a job you despise, however, freelancers vary rarely work the traditional 9-5 and working a five day week is almost unheard of. There are no steady hours in the freelance writer’s world. Any time off is often spent researching new material, absorbing daily events or at least mentally planning for the next interview. Even time spent away on holiday cannot prevent the Freelancer from planning the next travel article and taking notes and photographs of places of interest-just in case.

Professional writers work long and sometimes unsociable hours, in their attempt to make a living. Life is governed by possible rejections, disappointments and extreme highs when an article is finally accepted for publication. Freelance writers these days have to not only be creative, inventive, and resilient, but are expected to be experts in niche areas and able to market themselves to boot!

Although, most established freelance writers would not swap their existence for a steady 9-5 job, it is easy to see how some writers buckle under the severe pressure, living life by their wits, having to constantly budget their money for months ahead. They can become jaded with this continual pressure. The very source of their writing essence can dry up, leaving them struggling for both ideas and direction.

Freelancers become so used to writing for deadlines, targeting a specific house style, and then double-checking their facts that sometimes, it is easy to forget that writing can and should be fun.

For any writer who has been in this situation, then take heart; the all-important batteries can be recharged. Just take a step back momentarily and cast your mind back to the good old days. Writing stories or poems then were a labour of love, you wrote from the heart or from your soul, because mood dictated and not because you needed to make a profit.

It is time to tune in to good old inspiration.

Writing can be therapeutic; it can channel anger and sadness, releasing bottled emotions, allowing the tension to slip away as you become immersed within your story line.

In this day and age, freelance writers cannot afford to write for pleasure very often. Time becomes very precious, with rigorous schedules in place to enable them to succeed in a competitive market; ambitions often drive them to breaking point. But every now and then, it is important to re-evaluate their values and write purely for pleasure, for release and for satisfaction.

Think back to the moment when you realised you wanted to be a writer. What was it about writing that attracted you the most? Was it the unique opportunity to be able to glimpse into a different world or see life through another’s eyes? Did the lyrical qualities of poetry inspire you to put pen to paper or did you feel untapped creativity surging through your body as inspiration come to life?

When we write for ourselves, we do not need to worry about word count or house style, our tensions evaporate as we become one with our subject. When our creative juices are exhausted, we feel contented again. These words are not wasted, even if they may never be published, they are just ways of channelling your feelings and they enable you to remember, why you became a writer in the first place.

Hone your skill, perfect your art, but when life gets too much, take time out to lose yourself in your creativity and just write for pure pleasure.

Writers – Create A Dream Diary

dreaming creative successBy Annette Young

How many times have you forced yourself to sit in front of a computer and waited for inspiration to strike?Most of us have done so at some point, whether just starting out or even an experienced published writer have suffered from the proverbial writers block or have struggled to kick-start their creativity.

Sometimes ideas just flow and writing our article or story is easy. Inspiration flows over us like waves and the subsequent finished piece is almost word perfect and requires very little editing. But for those times when inspiration is on holiday or worse, on strike, help yourself to master those off -days by creating a dream diary.

If you are one of those unfortunate people who believe that they rarely dream or at least have trouble remembering them, a dream diary is obviously going to be a problem.But you can train yourself to remember your dreams in the mornings, but this may take time and practice.

Try leaving a notepad by your bed or invest in a Dictaphone, so at least if you do wake up during or after your dream, you can leave instant notes for yourself. Just in case on falling back asleep, you eliminate all memory of this wonderful plot.

Even nightmares can be a useful aid to creating a masterpiece, so next time you experience one, look to the positive, and tell yourself that this is going to help you get work published. For those interested in the meaning of dreams, invest in a good book, and not only can you create a great story but you can also work out what made you dream this particular scenario in the first place. It may well provide answers to questions in your everyday life.

As a child, I had the same recurring dream where I was in my back garden and a dinosaur type large red bird, chased me from one length of the garden right up to my back door, and I only just managed to slam the door shut and lock it with only seconds to spare. Scary? Of course…but the experience helped me to be able to pace my stories and to link tension into the right places of my plot.

I have often wondered what psychologists would make of my numerous and often odd, dream sequences and it is probably just as well that they have never been analysed by anyone other than myself. Although your dream may be vivid and almost overwhelming in its clarity, in the cold reality of daylight, many flaws can be seen with creative enlightenment. But remember, your dream is there to prompt you with a possible story line, it is not set in stone and you do not have to copy it, stage by stage.

Use it to express yourself in a new and different way. It may also be useful to close your eyes and to see if you could try to re-live your dream in your minds eye. Remember what you felt, sights, sounds, familiar scents, allow yourself to forget the present and immerse yourself back in your dream.

You will be amazed at how much you find you can remember and new scenarios may well fall into place as you practice this gentle meditation.I once dreamed a whole episode of Star Trek, complete with regular cast, a few new characters thrown in and of course, I took the lead role in the drama. I have never attempted to write an episode for television and one for a program, which relies on much sci-fi jargon would probably not be for my first attempt, however, the plot (if I say so myself) was exceptional and it is recorded in my dream diary for future use.

Whilst there would be very few changes to the initial plot, I was surprised by the amount of technical knowledge sustained which proved to me just how much information our subconscious thought process retains and then subsequently uses in the course of our nightly shenanigans.If you are lucky and your creative tact needs no prompting, you will not need to refer to your dream diary all that often, however, it can be interesting to read back over your entries over a period of time and ascertain just how far your imagination has taken you.

Just remember, in your dreams you are not restricted by earthly ties and you can let your imagination loose in the knowledge that inspiration is guiding you.Using a dream diary allows you to access your creative zone deep in the dark recesses of your mind and to harness that creative power. Do not waste this opportunity to provide original thought provoking ideas, just remember to record them carefully.

Ideas are gold dust and could, one day earn you a great deal of money as well as providing an insight into a side of your personality very rarely seen.



“Image courtesy of [graur codrin] /”.



Writing Ideas – Stimulate Your Inner Creativity

creative writing ideas


By Annette Young

Writing ideas are needed in abundance if you are planning to become a professional writer at some point. For many would-be writers, it is not their ability to write well and with passion that is the difficulty but the ability to generate good, solid writing ideas and this of course is paramount to success. Acquiring this ability is not too difficult; it is merely a matter of changing your mind-set so that you can view the world and its contents through different eyes and once you are able to do this, writing ideas should flow.

Writing ideas come in all shapes and forms and inspiration can strike in the strangest ways such as a flippant remark, a TV ad, a photo or maybe even a song lyric. To start stimulating your inner creativity so that you can generate many writing ideas, begin by studying the following:

– Practice people watching, people really do and say the funniest things, there is just so much human interest and untapped potential all around you that you may as well make use of it. Be discreet however.

– Keep a writing journal. Whenever you do get an idea, make sure to note it because even if it is not relevant currently, at some point, it could be just the idea you crave.

– Go for a long walk. Fresh air and beautiful scenery is wonderful for clearing flagging creativity. Writing ideas need stimulation and by experiencing natural beauty all around, you are bound to become inspired.

– Meet up with other writers. Writing can be such a lonely and isolating occupation that by meeting others it is possible to become inspired through conversation with others who share your passion for the written word. Join a local writing group or attend a college course or join our FaceBook group and interact. These suggestions will help you to be able to focus on the areas of improvement you need.

– Practise writing ‘what if’ scenarios. These are quick and easy writing tasks which require one or two paragraphs relating to a person, conflict or a theme and this can help break down writers block and open up the creative channels.

Providing you keep an open mind and a natural curiosity for the world around you, you will start to rediscover your potential for discovering fresh writing ideas.


“Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] /”.

Silence Self-Limitations

screwed up paperby Annette Young

We are all guilty of allowing self-limitations to hold us back. We might not think about them, we might not even want to admit that we hold back from our creative dreams but the chances are that these self-limitations perform a stranglehold on our publishing aspirations.

I know I was guilty of this when I picked up my first professional writing job many years ago. I kept looking at the project overview and experienced real moments of panic wondering why on earth I had said I could write. At that moment, my instinct was to backtrack from the project quickly and to tell the client I could not do it. Fighting back those feelings of doubt, I managed to start and finish the project and yes, I even enjoyed it.

Thank goodness I managed to silence my own self-doubts and banished those self-limiting thoughts because my life would have been very different I think if I had not persevered.

So if you think that you might be guilty of not going all out for your publishing dream, you may be wondering what you can do to overcome these inner shackles.

1. Imagine how productive you might be if you could approach every writing project with supreme confidence and to know that you could not fail. Although even the most professional and successful of writers have doubts, they don’t let those insecurities stop them from relishing their creative moments.

2. You might want to be a writer, but are you really passionate and totally committed to your writing? If yes, it is easier to just enjoy the creative process and to worry later. To be successful, you have to be prepared to just go for it and this means making mistakes and learning from them.

3. Do you believe that you could be a successful writer? You might know that there are grounds for improvement, but deep down, can you picture the moment you gain publication or win a writing competition? You need to keep that image dangling in front of you as it will keep you striving forward.

4. Plan your writing times wisely. Work at those times when you feel the most creative but make no mistake, you have to be able to channel your creative thoughts at times which become available to  you suddenly. If you can do this, you will also sharpen your mindset and really start to believe in yourself.

5. The next time that you start to doubt yourself, write down all the reasons why you want to be a writer. When you have finished, write down all the reasons why you might not want to write and the chances are that one word will be prevalent – fear. The best way to deal with fear is to acknowledge it and to face it head on. It is the best way to silence those self-limitations.


“Image courtesy of [gubgib] /”.

The Biggest Mistakes Competition Writers Make

Annette Young - Author, Editor, Writerby Author/Editor Annette Young

Competition writers take note. It’s sad but true that  quite a few great submissions have to be  discarded from our competitions when we get to the judging stage because many people have not adhered to the rules. Although it pains us to do so, we have to adhere to our own rules and not let these great submissions get through. Why?

Well, we like a level playing field. We are not swayed by the name of the writer, former publishing credits or how friendly and enthusiastic the writer is. We are only swayed by great writing that shows the writer has not just checked out the rules but listened to them otherwise what is the point in having rules?

Common mistakes:

Entering but not paying the relevant fees – Over the years we have seen quite a few people trying to sneak their submissions in, even stating they have paid by PayPal when they have not. We wish we could give you all free entry but prizes have to be covered and the better the prizes, the higher the entry fee. We also get people entering twice but only paying once. This costs us time and effort in checking and then contacting the writer.

Ignoring the word count – if we say 600 words including the title, we do not mean 601 words. Yes, that sounds harsh but if other writers have managed it, then so can all. If we say less than 40 lines in a poetry competition, guess what? We mean less than 40 lines.

Receiving an entry that is nothing to do with the theme – we love it when you get creative and are inspired by our themes or the images published, but, your submission has to be connected to the theme in some way. Just because your brain has taken a gigantic leap from reading the rules to an amazing, alternate story-line, does not mean that we can connect the dots in some way. It depends what we have said within the rules. For example, if a photo shows a woman looking into a mirror, we would hope that there be some reference to the woman and the mirror even in a tiny way. It could be a current or sub story-line, be used in a flashback, a dream, or referenced in a secret and long forgotten journal. The tiniest reference would be sufficient and let’s be honest, sometimes there is a leap of faith. But you get my drift – become imaginatively inspired by all means but let us see that you have linked the rules with your submission. This of course only applies if we state that you must be inspired by the photo. Sometimes we add a photo only for aesthetic reasons – so yes, read the rules.

Sending after the closing date – sorry, but we do have to have a cut-off point. We know that life can be manic and with so many demands on your time, it is hard to keep up with day to day pressures let alone creative writing ones but, if you want to enter and win, get your submission in on time. We inevitably receive submissions a day or two later but have even had submissions turn up a month later! Get smart – make a note of the closing date and link to the website page. Download the PDF list version of our competitions, at least you have a reference point.

We don’t like to play tough. We do try to keep the rules as simple as possible and we love reading your submissions and helping the winners to receive money for their troubles and publication. But help us to help you, and this way, you can also increase your chances of winning. Don’t let your creativity go to waste, simply because you didn’t check out those all-important rules.

Creative Writing Events

Want to take your writing to a new level? Then why  not join one of our creative writing events? We provide carefully created writing projects to inspire the creative process, there are targetted presentations for you that provide you with an abundance of writing techniques and writing tips, plus we are on hand for a Skype call to answer any questions.

Bookmark this page and check back regularly. We will also announce all of our upcoming creative writing events in our free newsletter creative competitor news.

Creative Writing – How To Use The Power Of Your Imagination

By Grace Jolliffe

Do you feel you sometimes lack imagination? Or that your imagination is low or tired? Well, it’s simply not true – everybody has lots of imagination. If you disagree with this statement try not to build a picture in your mind of a pink elephant wearing a white hat and cool shades. Next, try not to see the pink elephant with the white hat and cool shades dancing… get the picture?

Now, try this exercise: Think back to your earliest childhood memory. Was the sun shining? Were you in your pram? In the garden? Were there butterflies?

Keep asking yourself questions and fix on your most vivid memory. You will probably find you have added a few extras to the memory. Now, write it down – all of it – every detail you can think of. The first time I did this exercise I saw myself as a baby peeping out of a pram and looking at a beautiful garden, filled with butterflies and of course the sun was shining.

Is this memory or is this imagination? If you have just seen the above images as I described then you know the answer already. You may have added the above butterflies. That is okay, memory is a great tool for a writer but it is not everything.

The power of suggestion is immense. If, for example, I mention a white Unicorn or a large fire-breathing dragon you will immediately see these in your mind. Your imagination will deliver the images you think about.


You can trigger your imagination in a myriad of ways. One of the most powerful ways is by asking yourself questions.

Taking the above example a few steps further:

A white wolf has come down from the mountains and is approaching the garden. It is now frighteningly close to you as a baby. Somebody comes to the rescue.

Ask yourself why the wolf came down from the mountains. Why it approached you as a baby and who came to the rescue.

Now you have the beginnings of a story, and you can use your imagination to bring this story further, by asking more questions.

You can take ‘you’ out of the story and replace with a fictional character. If you don’t know who your new character is you can simply let your story create a character by simply inserting ‘man’ or ‘woman’ and asking yourself questions about them to generate a character.

To exercise your imagination, simply use it. For example, you are in walking in a park. Who is there? What are they doing? Who or what is lurking under the bushes? Who is hovering below the still waters of a nearby lake?

Your imagination is always present. All you have to do is use it by asking yourself questions. Don’t forget though – write everything down.

For more lots more creative writing help, tips and exercises visit

Article Source: [—How-To-Use-The-Power-Of-Your-Imagination&id=7241111]


Want some Challenging Creative Writing Projects? Look no further….


Learning From Hemingway

By Sheila C Skillman

Ernest Hemingway said, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit-detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.” By this Hemingway signalled the vital importance of honesty and truth in creative writing – and these two are not easily found, least of all by the writer himself in the very act of writing.

I have known these words of Hemingway’s for two or three decades now; and on several occasions in my writing life they have come to the fore of my consciousness. Not only have I personally experienced their relevance in all the failings and small triumphs of my writing life; but I see that Hemingway touches upon something so vital, it never loses its relevance and practical importance throughout a writer’s life, to the moment of death.

When I write a first draft of a novel, even if writing to a rough plan, I find that I write most fluently in the same way I used to “waffle” in my English essays at school. That is the only way to get a first draft completed, I find, in a relatively short period of time (i.e. a couple of months). The greatest challenge lies in the writer’s ability to keep writing despite the fact that they strongly suspect Hemingway’s detector, referred to above, would probably break down through wear and tear if it ranged over this particular manuscript.

The time for Hemingway’s detector to spring into action is when you come to read over your manuscript. I have found that there is nothing so exposing as creative writing. If you are a snob, or a racist, or a prude, or greedy, or morally shabby or lazy, be sure your writing will find you out. I have struggled with the things I have learned about myself which stand exposed in my own manuscript. This may well be why so many would-be writers give up. But if you are a true writer, you will take hold of Hemingway’s detector and scan it over your manuscript. I have found all sorts of moralising, self-righteousness, pontificating elements in my tone and plot and ideas, whilst using Hemingway’s detector; and have transformed my own attitude to the behaviour of my characters.

What I have learned from the use of Hemingway’s detector is that in creative writing, none of us have the right to stand in judgement over the behaviour of our own characters. If we do, be sure it will register on Hemingway’s detector.

Therefore, the key points of the lesson are painful and strict self-examination; followed by the guts to go forward with what you have learned, and to act on it. We all know Hemingway did that, in his writing. But I believe this applies to every writer, at whatever stage. If this were not true, his words wouldn’t keep surfacing through the years, and reminding me of the challenge I have set myself.

S.C. Skillman is the author of “Mystical Circles” – a psychological thriller. “Intense psychological drama in a beasutiful setting.” You can buy the book on Amazon and through the Kindle Bookstore, or visit the author’s website to find out more, and click the secure payment gateway to buy a signed copy at []

Article Source: [] Learning From Hemingway

Creative Writing Exercises to Get Your Writing Flowing Again

By Trevor Johnson

Creative writing can be a wonderful hobby as well as a lucrative career; however, everyone can experience writing block from time to time. Creative writing exercises can not only help you to break through writer’s block but also help you to hone your writing skills as well.

There are many different creative writing exercises in which you can engage to achieve benefit; however, there are a few tips that should be kept in mind in order to benefit the most.

First, when engaging in creative writing exercises try not to plan or think about what you are doing too much. The goal is to keep writing. Therefore, avoid the temptation to stop and edit as you write. At this point, you should not worry about grammar or spelling. If necessary, you can always come back later and take care of that. Finally, make sure you retain your writing from your exercises.

Many people find that writing in groups is an excellent way to enjoy creative writing exercises. If you find that you are not motivated on your own, a group setting can be a great way to cure that problem. You are not only accountable to yourself but also to others. In addition, you can benefit from the inspiration of others.

When it comes to specific creative writing exercises, there are many. Random stimulation is an excellent way to get started. This type of exercise works by taking two or three random words, any random words, and then putting them together will inspire your brain to put things together and form patterns that often would not be possible under other circumstances. You might begin with random word combinations. These combinations may not even have anything that would seem to be in common at first glance. Try to use these words in your writing in some way. If you are having trouble coming up with word combinations, consider creating words lists such as a list of different verbs, adjectives, places, professions, etc. Choose a word from two or three different lists and get writing!

You might also consider using starting phrases to get the inspiration going. These creative writing exercises work by starting with specific phrases and seeing where they lead you. Consider such examples as I would like to or I remember. There are, of course, innumerable phrases which you could use.

Creative writing often involves the development of characters so it is also a good idea to use some creative writing exercises that focus on character development.

Begin with some type of starting idea. For example, you might think of a profession or a problem. You might think about developing a character who has a specific profession or even a specific problem. Begin adding ideas. For example, if you began with the idea of a character who is a chef you might add other details such as “food connoisseur” and “works late hours.” These types of creative writing exercises will usually provide you with numerous other ideas you can explore as you begin to develop your character.

Get more []creative writing ideas and discover how to []get your first novel published.

Article Source: [] Creative Writing Exercises to Get Your Writing Flowing Again