Creative essay writing techniques: How to write a creative essay
If creativity doesn’t always seem to come naturally to you, creative essay writing can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Studies show some people are naturally more creative than others, so if you don’t always feel a flood of ideas when you open a word doc, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to cultivate creativity when you’re feeling low on inspiration. If you’re willing to experiment, put in the work, and keep pushing forward until you create something you’re proud of, you’re already on the right track.
Today, we’re going to cover some of the crucial steps you can take when writing a creative essay, to improve your chances of making the right impression with your writing.
What is a creative essay?
A creative essay isn’t just putting words on a piece of paper to meet a specific wordcount. Rather, these essays are tests of your ability to explore ideas and explain concepts to an outside party.
In the academic world, creative essays can be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your research skills, as well as your language and writing abilities.
Creative essays are common at almost all education levels – you’ll even write these papers when you’re in university. So, it pays to learn how to master the basics as quickly as possible.
The good news is with creative essay writing, you’ll have the freedom to explore different kinds of topics and ideas when you’re being “creative” – even if you’re not an accomplished essay writer.
The bad news is the more freedom you have, the more difficult it can be to figure out where you should begin.
Steps to writing a creative essay
Where to begin
The first step in writing a creative essay is deciding what to write about. The best option for most students will be to choose a topic personal to them. This can be an excellent option because you’ll have first-hand experience to put into the story.
You can also experiment with writing prompts – there are dozens of them online, available from would-be authors. You can even get help from a custom essay service.
Just some creative options include:
- A normal life event spirals out of control.
- A scenario leading to the end of the world.
- A futuristic look at what could happen one day.
- A look at the past from a different perspective.
- A story wherein a person’s unique abilities help them face adverse.
- A tale about something you love, like horse riding or bikes.
You could even just explore fun ideas, like what would you do if you became invisible for a day, or what would happen if you woke up as Batman?
How to write a creative essay
Before you start
Once you’ve got a topic for your creative essay writing, it’s time to start planning.
Organizing your thoughts in a full brainstorm before you begin writing is often helpful. It ensures you have a full structure for your story with a beginning, middle and end. Failure to plan can often leave people wondering what to do next after the main event of their story has happened.
Plan for a successful essay by:
Researching your topic
Make notes and gather important information about the topic you’re going to cover. It’s important to be accurate, even if you’ve chosen a subject a little odd – like time travel. Research can make your story seem more advanced.
Plan the basic structure
Decide how your story is going to start, how it’s going to end, and what’s going to happen in the middle. How are you going to introduce your character? What major event or issue are they going to face? Will they fix a problem only to be faced with another, bigger one?
How will you eventually wrap everything up?
Write a rough draft
Get something down on paper, then read through and think about where you might need to expand on your ideas or develop something further. This is a great opportunity to remove any unnecessary information that doesn’t add to the story too.
Creative ways to write an essay
Now you have all the basics of a plan, you can start really working on your essay. Some people prefer to start with a title and use it guide their writing structure. Other people find choosing a title is too difficult before they’ve seen how the story goes themselves.
You might find it easier to choose a placeholder title so you can come back and edit it later.
Whenever you write your title, make sure it has an impact. The right option is usually a witty, engaging title to let readers know what the story is about.
You might choose a fun title like (Google) ‘Searching for answers’, for a story about a murder which happens when your character is running the Google HQ.
If you followed the tips above, after your title, you’ll be able to start polishing your outline. The best structure for a creative essay is usually the Oxford 3-point method.
In other words:
This is where you establish the characters, the location, and the relationship people have to each other.
You can also use some foreshadowing here if you know what’s going to happen later in your story, like having a character watch an episode of Quantum Leap during the introduction if they’re going to time travel later.
This is where the story has a turning point. Something happens to form the crux of the action. Maybe your character is suddenly transported back in time, and they’re now on the run from the police who think they’re a distant ancestor and crime boss.
The challenge needs to be significant enough to capture the reader’s attention. A character tripping in the street isn’t enough of a confrontation.
Now you can begin to explore how your character resolves the problem. How does your time-traveler shake the police and get back to his own time? He might face a few more challenges on the road to victory, but eventually he should get there.
How to focus on writing an essay
Essay writing tips
There are tons of creative ways to write a paper. Some people like to write the ending first and work backwards from there. Others start by writing the major action points of the essay, then figuring out what happens before and after.
It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.
A good way to make sure you don’t lose focus is to set aside sections of time when you’re going to concentrate on writing and nothing else. Block out all other distractions, turn off your phone, and make sure you don’t leave your keyboard until you’ve produced a certain number of words.
Here are some quick tips to help you in the writing process:
Just start writing
At first, the main goal of your writing will be to just get something on paper. A lot of people struggle with simply getting started when it comes to creative essay writing.
If you can stop worrying about the content sounding perfect, and just focus on getting your ideas written down, you can polish and re-write later.
Bringing detail into your creative writing helps to immerse the reader in the experience. This doesn’t mean you should write several paragraphs on how a piece of sidewalk looks but add detail where it counts.
Little things, like metaphors, symbols, and personifications are a great way to give the story depth.
Be brutal with editing
For some creative writers, the editing process takes longer than the writing itself. During the edit, you can go back and remove anything not adding real value to the story. This is the time to be really critical with yourself.
Anything that doesn’t makes sense or sounds like you’re just waffling about nothing should be cut. Try not to start over too many times – though. If you think you’re being too harsh, ask someone else to read your essay over and give their thoughts.
Focus on flow
Great creative essays should flow seamlessly from start to finish. Keep an eye out for any long, clunky, and complex sentences that derail your story. Transitional words are excellent for keeping everything connected, like “however”, and “therefore”.
Experimenting with different lengths in your sentences can also make your writing sound more natural. Try mixing up short and long sentences.
Tie up the plot
Remember to tie up all your loose ends by the time you get to the conclusion. Don’t make the mistake of introducing dozens of subplots that don’t go anywhere. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use a cliffhanger if you want to.
The aim is to make sure the only questions your readers are left with are the ones you want them to be asking.
Mastering your essay writing techniques
Creative essay writing will always be easier for some people than it is for others. However, practicing the strategies above should put you in a good position to produce something you can be proud of.
Remember, re-read, and check the tempo of your creative piece multiple times before you submit it, and ask other people to analyze it too if you can. Another set of eyes could pick up on mistakes you’ve missed.
One other last tip? Try not to get too caught up on perfection. Your essays will improve over time, but it’s important to be kind to yourself while you’re still learning. Don’t let the fear of producing something “not good enough” prevent you from getting started in the first place.
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