September 17, 2018

Creative writing and our brains

Every person dealing with creative writing has definitely wondered what part of the brain is responsible for making up stories as well as why some people are better at it than others. To figure this out, it is vital to first find out more about creative writing in general.

What is creative writing?

Basically, creative writing is a unique way of putting things together and coming up with different results. There is no universal way to do it. To some extent, it is not fully possible to teach someone how to write creatively, especially when a person does not possess any sort of talent or desire. Learning creative writing is not done through classes, during which renowned writers teach others how it should be done and what steps one needs to follow in order to write a best-selling novel. It does not work like that. Creative writing is a unique and distinctive way of encountering the world and language, as well as developing a method—with the help of which one can express everything he or she has encountered on paper.

Apart from that, creative writing should be constantly practiced. In other words, it is important for a creative writer to understand how a text works and how a reader will potentially interpret it. A poet needs to know what the essential components of a poem are and how it is put together. These are the basics every aspiring writer needs to comprehend at the beginning of his or her writing journey. Another vital skill for any writer is to understand what effect words have on readers. It is not a secret that writers observe a lot. They gather bits of conversations they hear on the street or in cafes; they pay more attention to surroundings and people; they listen carefully to anecdotes; they do a lot of research and they reflect a lot. These skills are essential as the information a writer gathers from the outside world may become a source for a story. That is the reason why it is so significant for creative writers to pay attention to everything that is going on around them. In a way, a writer is a like a biologist. Yet, a biologist studies cells through a microscope while a writer examines the world and people.

Creativity can and should be nourished and encouraged. Even though talent is quite often inborn, it needs to be developed and the best way to develop one’s talent is to keep writing. Practice makes perfect. It’s as simple as that. Creative writers need to be committed if they decide to do this for the rest of their lives. They will have to find ways to stay inspired even when nothing around them seems inspirational and that is not an easy skill to master. In the end, determination is the factor that makes all the difference—not talent. Every creative writer should also read as much as possible as it helps to develop his or her own style and technique. It is impossible to teach someone how to become more talented. Yet, it is totally possible to teach him or her how to be more observant, how to create one’s own style and to write better texts (Vanderslice, Leahy).

How is creative writing produced in our brains?

The biggest question here is as follows: what does a creative writer do to his or her mind to create stories? The answer is multifaceted. Every neuroscientist will tell you that the mind is a direct product of the brain. To dig deeper, it is vital for the body and the brain to cooperate in order to make a human being feel and think. To put it simply, the interaction between the body and the brain produces the mind. A lot of creative thoughts are somatic, which presupposes that they come from the fingers or the stomach rather than from the brain. The latter does not have its own sensations. That is one of the reasons why the process of writing a novel may sometimes feel physically painful.

The majority of creative writers begin by producing different fragments of the story that seem totally unrelated at first. Such a state can often be described as loose construing, which means writers turn off their logic and focus, as well as try to put their anticipations on hold. Later on, the story is shaped with the help of these fragments and that quite often results in coming up with a theme, or even several themes for a piece. At this stage, logic and structure play a very important role, as they help to bring the whole story together and make it both coherent and easy to understand for the target reader.

What is particularly interesting is how writers approach themes or characters they themselves cannot relate to. The trick is to learn how to think like a character instead of thinking like the author of a story. In such a way, it will be possible to enter the psyche of the character as well as make the story more diverse. Besides, creative writers do not necessarily write only about their own experiences. Thus, it is vital to be able to write about those experiences and views that are completely different from those that are familiar to you. In order to do that properly, a writer needs to free his or her mind. It will help to create a rich story that has a more profound meaning.
Neuroscientists cannot offer a detailed explanation of how a creative mind works and what triggers it. Stories do not write themselves, but more research needs to be conducted in order to comprehend how writers come up with such powerful and rich texts that influence so many people all over the world. What is clear is that creative writing is a great exercise that prevents the brain from aging (Ogden).

The process of writing has a huge impact on how people feel. It even helps to broaden one’s worldview. What is more, writing also improves a person’s ability to memorize information due to the fact that writing something down activates cells in the temporal lobe. In such a way, the ability to focus intensifies. Keeping a journal has a lot of benefits for mental health. Writing things down helps to let go, as well as find ways of solving problems in a more efficient way. In other words, the habit of keeping a journal can even be viewed as cathartic, as it helps to deal with traumatic or stressful issues better. What should also be highlighted is that writing a journal increases immunity of cells that help the body fight off infections.

Creative writing tips

Even though it is impossible to teach talent, perfecting one’s creative writing skills is totally doable. Here are a few creative writing tips to take into consideration. If you are an aspiring writer or looking for inspiration, this list will definitely come in handy:

  • Write about the things you know. Using backgrounds and characters you are familiar with will help you get more comfortable with your creative writing style. What is more, you will have more themes to explore. Creating new stories from the things you already know is definitely easier. If you are a beginner, this is definitely one of the best ways to get started.
  • Then, start writing about the things you don’t know. The more experienced you become, the easier it gets to explore new themes. Use your imagination to come up with new characters, new stylistic approaches, new situations, and even new worlds. You are not limited. Do not hesitate to try doing something no one has done before. It might turn out to be a real masterpiece.
  • Read a lot. The more you read, the more diverse your world will become. One of the best things about reading various types of texts is that you are exposed to so many different worlds that it triggers your own imagination to create something unconventional. In addition, reading also helps you broaden your vocabulary, which will have a positive impact on your writing style. Good writers are typically encouraged by great books.
  • Edit. Always. It is practically impossible to write a good text on your first try. Editing is inevitable. The more you edit, the more polished your piece of writing becomes, which presupposes that it also gets better with every edit you make. You do not have to get it right on your first attempt. That is what the process of editing is for. Editing helps creative writers understand which parts should be changed, rewritten, or left out. It also helps to figure out what can be done to improve their work. Even though it may be tiring or boring, editing one’s piece of writing is necessary.
  • Show instead of tell. Try not to include too much description in your texts. Instead of telling readers what the problem is, show it. Demonstrate it using the words of your characters rather than the explanation of a narrator. In such a way, it will be more fascinating to read and a reader will not feel like everything is being explained for them. Do not slow down your narrative by using too many adverbs or adjectives. Incorporate action into your stories. Figure out how to demonstrate the atmosphere in a room or the mood of a character without describing it. Make sure there is a lot of interaction between characters. In other words, let them speak for themselves.
  • Hook your readers. You can’t force somebody to like your novel but you can totally get your readers hooked on the plot right away. Your opening paragraph should be impressive enough to motivate them to keep reading. You want your readers to be intrigued, which is the reason why you need to come up with the most unconventional way to do that.

Taking everything into consideration, it is still unclear how some people are better at creative writing than others. Surely, creative writing can be mastered, but it will definitely take a lot of time and effort. Talent does play a vital role for creative writers, but it is not the only thing one needs in order to become one. If you are having difficulties with your creative writing assignments, do not hesitate to contact our academic writing assistance agency. We will help you complete such tasks faster and more effectively.

Works Cited

  1. Vanderslice Stephanie, Leahy Anna. “What Is Creative Writing Anyway?” HuffPost, 2012, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-vanderslice/what-is-creative-writing_b_1305438.html
  2. Ogden Jenni, Ph. D. “Creative Writing and Your Brain” Psychology Today, 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/trouble-in-mind/201304/creative-writing-and-your-brain
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