ON THIS PAGE BELOW:
How to be More Creative &
How to be a Better Writer
NOW THIS- 10 Ways to Appear Shockingly Smart to Any Editor
I’ll never forget the first article I wrote for a national magazine. I’d spent two years pitching the editor on a wide variety of stories — to which she always said no. So, when she finally phoned me to accept an idea and commission me to write the piece I was gobsmacked.
I did a little happy dance, speculated about how I was going to spend my considerable-to-me paycheck and started contacting sources.
Now that I’ve worked on both sides of the desk — as a writer and editor — for more than 35 years, I have a well-developed sense of what you have to do to make editors like you. Here are 10 sure-fire ways:1. Make sure you really understand the assignment.
Human communication is imperfect. If I say to my kids “please clean the house” they may take it to mean I want them to pick up objects lying in wrong places and wipe down the kitchen counters. But what if was expecting them to vacuum and dust? (I know. Bad example. They’ll never do this in my lifetime. At least not in my house.)
As a writer, however, you are expected to read the editor’s mind. The best way to do that? Ask lots of questions! So, if the editor says to you, “Please write me a story on vice-president Madison Jones” you should ask:
- Are you looking for a 750-word profile?
- Do you want it to focus on work or should I include some personal aspects as well?
- Roughly, how many people do you think I should interview?
Don’t worry about looking like a dimwit! If a writer were to ask me questions like these, I’d be impressed and feel respected.
2. Be calm and cheerful.
People like working with others who are happy. Yes, this may be an act but play it like you’re looking for an Academy Award. If your editor likes you, you’ll get more work.
Some casual chitchat about the weather, the traffic, items in the news is expected in any working relationship. It’s not all about the job! It’s part of being emotionally intelligent. Try to connect on a human level and if that’s not possible, rest secure in the knowledge that you’re being a decent human being. Your editor may not get that type of respect from anyone else.
3. Turn down work you’re ill-suited for.
Recently, I was invited to bid on an editing job relating to equities. I’m as game as the next person but as soon as I looked at some of the stories (to prepare the quote) I realized I would be in way over my head. I immediately contacted the client and told them I wasn’t their person. To do otherwise would have been unfair to them.
When you’re offered a story that’s totally outside of your wheelhouse, see if you can turn it down. I realize this may not be possible if you’re an employee rather than a freelancer but be frank with your boss and explain your lack of comfort. If that doesn’t work, scramble to find someone who can explain the subject to you in plain English. Better yet, ask them to review your story before you hand it in.
4. Ask for and follow the style guide.
Every publication and just about every company will have an existing style guide or sheet. So, ask for a copy of it. It will spell out how to present numbers (numerals or words), how to handle job titles and whether or not to use the serial comma. If your copy comes in “clean” — i.e.: if it follows the existing style guide — you’ll be saving your editor a chunk of time, money and aggravation. This will make her like you. A lot.
5. Report in at least once, midway.
If you have a long deadline — and, by that, I mean more than two weeks — be sure to report in to the editor at least once, giving her an update on how you’re doing. While, strictly speaking, this kind of check-in isn’t necessary, it will help give your editor confidence that things are going smoothly. Think of it from her perspective: She’s given you an assignment and — if she doesn’t know you well — doesn’t really know if you’re going to be able to deliver it on time. A short, casual email will help reassure her. Say something like: “Hi Melanie – Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve completed all the interviews for my story now. Things have all gone well and, as planned, I’ll have the draft into you by _____ (date).”
6. If you need help, ask for it early in the process.
Discovering — on deadline day — that a writer has an unsolved problem is any editor’s worst nightmare. If you’re facing unexpected challenges the editor deserves to hear about them EARLY when she can help. Say, for example, the people you need to interview won’t respond to your emails or texts. Call the editor as soon as this problem reveals itself. She may have ways of inciting them to respond.
Asking for this kind of help does not make you look bad. It makes you look well organized — as long as you do it early enough. Remember that most people like helping others. Editors, in particular, enjoy feeling as though they can slay a few dragons before lunchtime.
7. Use quotes judiciously.
Some writers over-use quotes or use spectacularly bad ones. I particularly hate ones that sound as though an apprehensive CEO wrote them, just before facing a flock of angry shareholders. Example: “I can assure you that we are making an enormous contribution to our community.” Doesn’t that sound phony? Quotes should say something in an idiosyncratic, interesting or amusing way. Here’s a believable one from a recent New York Times story on student backpacks: ‘ “I have a very cluttered mind,” Mr. Sarete, the N.Y.U. student, explained.’
8. Document your sources.
I don’t know whether magazines have fact-checkers any more (I’m guessing most don’t) but back when I was writing I had to submit a list of sources with my article. This included phone numbers and email addresses for people and publication details and page numbers of any books or magazines I’d used. Even if your publication doesn’t require this, it’s smart to fastidiously organize and file the information you’ve collected. Then keep it for at least a year after publication. That way if your editor asks for anything you’ll be able to produce it in a few minutes. That will truly impress her.
9. Be within 10 words of your assigned word-count.
Don’t start to write until you have a word count goal. And never submit a story that is either too long or too short. Never. The best trick I learned from one of my writers? Whenever she had a story that she felt needed to be longer (because the sources were so interesting) she always submitted two stories to me. One was the requested length. The other was longer. I thought this was one of the smartest things I’d ever seen a freelancer do. Thank you, Ruth!
10. Always meet your deadline.
If I ever received a story that was late I never used that writer again. Deadlines are non-negotiable. Do whatever it takes to turn in your story on time. The editor has her own list of responsibilities. If you miss your deadline, she’s likely to miss hers. This will not make her happy.
Impressing an editor may seem like looking after a particularly demanding pet — or finicky houseplant. But it’s exactly the sort of effort that can result in better and more frequent work for you.
Creativity makes our world a better place.
Really, what would the world look like if no significant discoveries were made? No revolutionary ideas, or even just new approaches to doing things?
Creativity pushes humanity forward. It helps the gears of progress spin faster. And it simply makes people’s lives more comfortable and exciting.
But you may be wondering, then, how to be creative.
If you’re reading this, you’ve already taken the right first step to improving creativity skills.
Today, we’ll find an answer to that question. Just continue reading this post, and you’ll find out what creativity really is, along with some great ways to spark creativity. We’ll describe six creativity techniques that you’ll be able to use while studying, working on a project, or just going about your everyday life.
You’ll be amazed how easy it can be! The results of these techniques won’t keep you waiting. You’ll quickly discover your creative side.
Are you ready? Let’s do this!
Before learning how to be more creative, here’s a good place to start: What is creativity?
Various disciplines have different ways of explaining creativity. These disciplines include education, psychology, linguistics, songwriting, and engineering, just to name a few. In general, however, they all cover the same basic relationships—like the link between creativity and intelligence, personality type, neurological and mental processes, mental health, and ability to create something new.
As a summary definition, we can say the following. Creativity is a phenomenon (an ability or a process) by which something different and new is made. This “something” can be either a physical object (painting, sculpture, invention, all sorts of creative things) or something intangible (a theory, joke, melody, idea).
Creative process theories
Since the very concept of creativity first appeared, many theories, studies, and creativity articles have been published.
They all suggest different explanations as to what the best methods, sources, and ways of developing creativity are. All based on the interpretation of different studies’ results.
It’s fair to say that the theories and studies themselves serve as a great example of the creative process.
Convergent and divergent thinking
This theory draws a connection between the creative process and different types of thinking. It’s mainly based on the distinction between convergent and divergent thinking. Convergent thinking means finding a single solution to a problem, whereas divergent thinking results in multiple creative solutions. Researchers point to the similarity between divergent thinking and creativity itself. Studies even prove that different thinking can lead to a better mood, which in turn improves the creative process.
Incubation theory suggests another idea. It says that a short break from solving a problem or trying to come up with an idea aids creativity. The primary reason is that during the break, your brain forgets all the misleading thoughts and inappropriate strategies.
Without these unnecessary ideas, the creative thinker can then come up with better and more relevant solutions. This theory is actually based on disputing earlier theories. These previous theories claimed that creative ideas appear in the unconscious mind while a person is focusing on other tasks.
Creative cognition approach
Creative cognition theory splits creativity into two stages: 1) generative, which consists of constructing mental representations, and 2) exploratory, which consists of coming up with innovative ideas based on those constructions. When using innovative thinking to develop new ideas, their structuring is usually based on already-existing concepts. However, there are also arguments that ordinary cognitive processes bring extraordinary results.
Everyday imaginative thought
There are also a few somewhat simplistic theories that have surprisingly gained a lot of popularity. One daily creative idea is based on counterfactual thinking. People can often imagine an alternative reality when thinking “if only….” These thoughts are considered to be the standard equivalent of creativity because generating such ideas involves similar cognitive processes.
Now, with all that theory out of the way, it’s time to show you how to improve creativity.
We aren’t going to give you abstract ways to improve creativity—like “go for a walk,” “listen to classical music,” “find a creative place,” and so on. The main reason is that all those things are very subjective. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. No one knows better than you what inspires you and makes you come up with ideas and solutions, so we’ll leave that for you to decide.
Here’s what you’ll get instead.
Here at Custom-Writing.org, we’ve decided to provide you with techniques that will show you how to improve creativity skills. You can see which one fits you the best.
Leave your hesitations behind.
If you’ve come this far, you have nothing to lose from trying out some of these techniques. And in the long run, you’ll see that they do help increase creativity and imagination.
This process involves writing, speaking, and composing. Or performing any other sort of action without preparation or the use of a script. Improvisation usually opens up new ways of doing things. It helps with the discovery of original thought and practice patterns, new structures, and so on. It also improves the development of creative skills.
Improvisation is useful in numerous fields. It can happen in science, art, or physical and cognitive activities. It has its place in both academic and non-academic disciplines.
For instance, improvisation can be useful if you want to learn how to be more creative in writing. Let’s say, writing an essay. By enforcing various limits on you as a writer, you’ll have to write by stream of consciousness, without judgment of your work. This helps you overcome writer’s block and enhance your writing instinct. It also improves flexibility in writing and acts as a creative booster in general.
This is a creative thinking method that requires a group of people to work together and generate ideas. It follows the principle of suspending judgment.
Brainstorming can be used in any sphere imaginable, anywhere there’s a need to come up with new and fresh ideas. It’s helpful in marketing, writing a screenplay, or working on a project. It can be any type of project as well—for a school or university or even coming up with essay ideas.
The process usually goes as follows:
- Get together in a group.
- Write down the initial topic for everyone to see. The more specifically you define the issue and state the problem, the better outcome you’ll have.
- Make sure that everyone understands the idea.
- Set the rules.
– Accept all ideas, without any criticism.
– Aim for a significant number of ideas without limits. The more, the better. Otherwise, judgment will ensue.
– Don’t break the flow, and avoid censoring ideas.
– Save all discussion for later. Also, if possible, try to create ideas that are linked to previous ones. (This is not necessary but can be used as an option).
- Have one person responsible for enforcing the rules. You should also have someone writing down the ideas (it can be the same person).
- Start coming up with ideas. It can go two ways: 1) Everyone can share their views at any time, without structure, or 2) Ideas can be generated by taking turns around the table, with the option to pass.
- Make final clarifications and conclusions. Group similar ideas and keep the rest as is. Decide what to do next based on the ideas you’ve gathered.
3. Lateral thinking
This technique involves problem-solving through a creative and indirect approach. It makes use of reasoning that might not be obvious at first. It also includes ideas that may fall outside the boundaries of conventional step-by-step logic.
One of the brightest examples of creative thinking of this kind is the Biblical story of the Judgment of Solomon. In that story, King Solomon solves the problem of parental custody by suggesting a child be cut in half. He then watches the reactions of each person and makes his judgment.
There’s a set of tools in lateral thinking that allows the person using them to reach specific goals. The technique itself finds use in many fields, including education, as it helps develop entirely new ideas that are “outside the box.”
- Disproving. Take any idea or concept that’s accepted or obvious. Then question it to make an opposite view in an attempt to discredit it.
- Random entry idea generation. Choose an arbitrary object. Then try to associate it with the area or topic you’re interested in.
- Challenge idea generation. The core of this method is asking “Why?” in a non-threatening way. It can be applied to pretty much anything, not only problems. The goal here is to introduce a challenge, which, in turn, brings a more precise understanding of the object. It also helps generate fresh ideas.
- Provocation idea generation. The idea behind this tool is that you can create new ideas through provocative statements. These statements can be impossible or flat-out wrong to begin with. But the core aim is still coming up with ideas based on them.
4. Five W’s
This technique uses the following prompts in the form of questions:
The method itself finds numerous formal and informal uses:
- When in a discussion or meeting, this technique can serve as a quick checklist. It helps participants keep essential points in mind and come up with further questions.
- It can generate questions to gather more data, especially when you’re at the early stage of solving a problem. It works well both as an informal and a systematic way to form a list of questions to answer.
- It can be used as a part of another technique (such as brainstorming). This method can help generate questions that drive new ideas and thoughts.
- It’s possible to use the method as an evaluation tool to form specific criteria.
5. False faces
This is one of the more straightforward creativity methods. It helps generate new ideas or find a solution to a problem.
Here’s how it goes:
- Describe the problem.
- Write down all assumptions connected with this problem.
- Pick out the fundamental assumptions and challenge them.
- Write completely opposing statements for each assumption you have.
- Gather all differing points of view that may seem useful to you.
- Think of how to turn all the conflicting statements you’ve written into reality. This will give you a set of new ideas and perspectives.
This technique views the creative process as a continuous cycle. When one cycle is completed, it immediately leads to another period of improvement with the same steps. It can be easily adjusted to be used as a creative learning technique.
The Simplex technique consists of 8 stages:
- Locating the problem. You can state the problem right away if it’s obvious. Otherwise, go through a series of questions to identify it.
- Finding facts. This stage deals with finding as much information about your problem as possible. It’s also about evaluating the quality of that information, making assumptions, and checking their correctness.
- Defining the problem. By now, you have an overall idea of what you’re dealing with and enough information about it. So, make it more specific. State the exact problem you’re going to be dealing with. The more precise, the better. This will allow you to solve it more efficiently.
- Finding ideas. This stage involves using other techniques to generate ideas (for instance, brainstorming or lateral thinking).
- Selecting and evaluating. Once you’ve gathered enough ideas, it’s time to select the ones that will help you the most in solving your problem. You can develop criteria based on what you want to achieve or just gradually get rid of the least suitable ideas until you’re left with the most appropriate ones. Then evaluate the approach you’ve selected, and think of all the benefits you’ll get from it. You need to make sure that it’s good enough to solve the problem. If you’re still in doubt, it’s worth trying to find more ideas.
- Planning. Now you need to think of how you’re going to achieve your goal. You can use different approaches and techniques to build a plan, depending on how big the problem or project you’re working on is. Most of the time, the Five W’s method works well for this purpose.
- Selling the idea. Share the results of what you’ve been working on. Tell your colleagues, fellow students, or others who are involved in the project. This will give you an understanding of how practical your idea is and whether or not it needs changes.
- Taking action. All the searching and planning leads to this. It’s time to make everything a reality. Follow your plan, and then go through the same stages again to improve your idea.
There you go. Now you know how to be creative. And you’re one step closer to becoming a truly creative person.
Knowing the techniques alone may not be enough, though. Before putting them into action, you need to understand what your ultimate goal is. And how a particular method will help you achieve it. Stay focused. You can even use these techniques in your spare time as a set of exercises to boost creativity.
With these thoughts in mind, you’ll end up with excellent results and outstanding ideas. And the creative process won’t ever be tiring or complicated. Being creative will instead turn into something that’s enjoyable and exciting.
Let us know in the comments if any of the techniques we’ve shared have helped you. Maybe you have your own methods of improving creativity? Feel free to share them, too.
15 AMAZING WAYS TO WRITE FASTER AND BECOME A BETTER WRITER IN NO TIME
–If writing is a big part of your life or if you want to have a career in the field of blogging, novel writing, or script writing, you should consider this: it is both very straightforward and challenging at the same time. The process itself may not seem that difficult, but most of the time, you’re up against the most relentless enemy: time! The clock is ticking, but the interval between keystrokes keeps getting bigger and bigger. Anxiety builds up, and productivity goes down.
But here’s the thing:
If writing is your bread and butter, you can’t afford to wait for inspiration to knock on your door. You have to do something about it. Right now.
And here’s something that just might be the thing:
Fifteen actionable tips on boosting your writing speed!
Do you have problems with concentration? Do you get stuck in every sentence? Is your inner editor getting more and more annoying? Well, in this case, these tips will help you take control of your writing pace and creative output! Want to write faster? Look at this infographic!