Writing is an art, but also a craft that can be mastered through practice. Some people believe in waiting for inspiration to strike—and when it does, it’s terrific! But you get left sitting around an awful lot if you aren’t going after ideas yourself.
Here’s a secret: No matter what kind of writing we’re talking about here—academics, journalism, legal writing services—there’s always room for creativity, and the secret of not only creativity, but of good writing in general, is detail.
Let’s say, for example, that you are trying to write a piece on the current economic climate. The easy thing to do would be to just google all the pertinent news stories and patch together something that covers the facts.
Get Out on the Street
Try this instead: Go eat lunch at a soup kitchen. They’re in the phone book. Dropping by there for lunch may put you out of your comfort zone at first, but that’s not a bad thing for your creativity, either. And once you get inside, you’ll discover that not only is it okay that you have come by, but that if you mention why you’re there, you will be inundated with personal stories.
That’s why you’re there. The kind of detail you can gather face-to-face in that situation is something you could never get online.
Flattery Works Wonders
Another thought: Let’s say you need to write a process article—how to do something or how something works. Never underestimate the power of flattery. Find someone who is accessible and will let you hang out with them for a few hours. I live down the hill from a scooter mechanic in a tourist town where half the people who come to visit zip around the hills on rented scooters.
Spend an hour or two with someone like that and you will have all the material you’ll need for your article with the all-important human angle.
Write What You Know?
Let’s switch to fiction for a moment. They always advise writing what you know, and that can be seem daunting, though it isn’t. Since fiction is about people, keep in mind there are lots of ways to meet and learn about people (see above).
But let’s say you want to write crime fiction. Why not go to court some afternoon? It’s open to the public, and really, crime fiction or not, if you want to see the whole array of human emotion on parade, that’s the place to see it.
Simply in terms of building up characters for your fiction, keep a notebook handy and write it down when you see it, because you can’t make up the stuff you can experience any day of the week down at city hall.
The bottom line here is this: Whatever your purpose, go out and find your material. It’s all right outside your door.
Don L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.