I really need some ideas on not HOW to write but WHAT to write.  hello! I need some help on some creative writing. I find it really difficult to just write about something random. thank you

Expert Answers
alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One piece of advice would be not make it something random. Think of something you really like, or something interesting that happened to you in the past, or a place you want to go. Take it from there and allow your imagination to flow.

Don't be afraid to pick subject matter that you are passionate about, no matter what it is. It will be much easier to write if it's something you really care about.

Im liking what your saying...which inspired the others which have replied. But the thing is i dont find much going on in my my life right now... or i havent realised... but i will try to figure this one out.

I have written something, it is more about a depressed emotion so it doesnt really have anything to do with my life as it is it is quite happy, but i dont know how to progress it into a story. Or do you think it is enough writng about an emotion?

Personally I find it hard to write a story about "just" an emotion. Poetry is better suited for that, I think.

The key is to figure out how to take that emotion, and make it into a story. One helpful exercise is to make yourself a character first. You are not writing about you, it's about someone else, but you use your real emotions you have felt in the past (even if you are happy, you know what it's like to be sad) to give the character life.

So, let's say you're writing about a girl. She's depressed. Why? Make it something interesting, for example someone close to her has gone away. Who was the person who left her? Why did they go away? What happened? Were they in trouble? Did the character try to help them? What happened? Use small details from your real life to describe the people and setting to make the story seem believable.

Explore all the ideas that could make someone depressed, and then figure out why, and then what they could do about it. Could they go somewhere else? Where? Could they get into an adventure while in the new place? Take it anywhere you can imagine, but keep the emotion and the details real.

Once you get some of this on paper, you've done a lot of the work. The next step is to fashion it into a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like the previous post's idea.  The idea of personalizing the topic will allow it to be random to the outsider, but truly meaningful for you.  In addition to this, if you are able to effectively communicate your opinions on it, the reader will be able to relate to it, resulting in identification and empathy.  This transforms something random into something meaningful.  This is where great writing lives.

I have always believed that the best creative writing pieces arise from the drama in our own lives.  Ruptured bonds with a loved one, broken promises that were professed but then mislaid, and the idea that within our own daily lives transpire events that mean and represent something worthwhile of writing.  I am reminded of a scene from the film "Adaptation," where the main character goes to a writing workshop and asks a similar question to what you are asking about what should be written. The teacher expounds in a very strong and passionate manner (I might be taking some liberties, but I think the basic idea is present):  "Real life is drama- write about real life!  Someone lives, someone dies, someone loves, someone hates.  Someone breaks another's heart, someone saves another- that is drama and that is what you should write about."

Indeed, when you are trying to figure out what to write about, think about communicating something, anything, that represented meaning to you.

hero5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of these are great suggestions. I really like the white paper bag idea. Another idea that has been used by so many writers is to take an already familiar story and put your own spin on it. What is a favorite short story or book you have read? What if you told that story from a new point of view or told another chapter or sequel to the tale? Some of my favorite books have been ones like Ella Enchanted where the author took the very basic outline then ran with it in a totally new direction. For instance, what if "The Tale-Tell Heart" was told by the police officer that came to the house to investigate the noise? The possibilities for this are vast!

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One suggestion I might add is to write the story you would like to read. I read somewhere that S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was in high school because she couldn't find any books she enjoyed; she wrote the book she wanted to read. This is not to say that you should write a story just like a story you have enjoyed, but what makes a story interesting to you?

A story can begin with a question. What would happen if . . . ? What would someone do if . . . ? What would it be like to . . . ? Fill in the blanks here and you will be on your way to a story.

charcunning eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poets and authors often write about things from their own life; they, too, find it hard to be random.

Starting with a person sometimes help. Is there someone in your life that makes you have strong emotions? Love? Anger? Disappointment? Safety?

Start by writing phrases--don't even worry if they don't make entire sentences or if they don't make sense!

Then, RE-WRITE, RE-WRITE, RE-WRITE!! Good writing comes in the editing process.

Here's the rule I live by: YOU CAN'T FIX A BLANK PAGE!

Write SOMETHING, and then you can work on crafting it into a poem!

Good Luck!

rleahennis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some really great ways to get started is just to brainstorm, or try writing in a form known as stream of conciousness, where you just write whatever thoughts come to your mind in no particular order, it doesn't even have to make sense, and then look at what's there and work from a thought or idea, or piece of those thoughts that could be developed further. Observing others and being a really good listener can help you work on developing characters or descriptions; depends on you, your life experiences and the type of creative writing you are working on. Good luck! I hope this is helpful.

appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I teach creative writing I start out with having students sit in a public place and observe people and create character profiles based on what they observe: what they see, hear, smell etc. How does the person walk? What do they wear? what does their voice/laugh sound like? What do you think they do for a living? I find this helps one to not only closely observe from reality, but to extrapolate based on assumptions and imagination. You can then embellish and create characters; characters are the basis of storytelling!

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One piece of advice would be not make it something random. Think of something you really like, or something interesting that happened to you in the past, or a place you want to go. Take it from there and allow your imagination to flow.

Don't be afraid to pick subject matter that you are passionate about, no matter what it is. It will be much easier to write if it's something you really care about.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One thing that might help you that helps my students is if I present them with a photograph.  It doesn't have to be a personal photo or even of a picture of people, but it seems that a visual like that helps someone to start thinking.  If you have to write creatively on a regular basis, vary the subjects of the photo to keep your writing fresh.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like to select episodes from my life, or from things my friends have told me, and then use that as a springboard for developing a creative piece. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction; if you take a look at things that have happened to you this week, I’ll bet you can find something that would make a good creative writing assignment.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you cannot do random writing then write ten topics on separate pieces of post it notes, and throw them in a jar. Then, select one without looking BUT ONLY WRITE 100 words on that topic. Limiting yourself expands your initiative to create more. Try that.

mebarton | Student
I really need some ideas on not HOW to write but WHAT to write.  

hello! I need some help on some creative writing. I find it really difficult to just write about something random.

thank you

In my writing classroom, I have this quote: "A writer is an individual who uses language to discover meaning in experience and communicate it."

I'm often stumped like you are, and I resorted to trying to remember with an experience or observation that I just REALLY don't understand, and then using writing as a tool in my own way to discover its meaning. I do this first for myself (the rough drafts) and then for my audience while I'm polishing it up so it communicates what I learned to my audience.

In the back of my journal (and in the back of all my students' journals) is a page just for a list of these "Ponderables," since one never knows when something inexplicable will strike. (Just FYI, in case it might help you, we all have four other pages:

This is Who I Am

This is Who I Want to Be

This is What I Like

This is What I ____ Everyone fills in his/her own...hate/fear/want/do.)

salsa1319 | Student

In reply to what a lot of you said I do agree that it is often easier to write about your past or something you are passionate about. It is often easier to write about something that you know and feel. If your still stuck brainstorm on what you know and are passionate about, after a good brainstorm you will find what you want to write about. I find a web brainstorm works best for me and students...good luck and fun with it, that's why is called creative writing

roda04 | Student

Well, universe is composed of atoms and these atoms compose of stories to tell. So the focus of your writing will depend on your intrinsic motivation; perhaps asking this question, what makes me inspire? So, start playing now your pen.

sanmi | Student

thanks peeps! really appreciate it!! anyone else whos got any more ideas that can help me, I would really like to read it! :)

chas82 | Student

I have recently had the same issue with some of my classes. After attending a training over the summer, I have been introduced to many ideas.  One that I would like to share with you is what is called a "Paper Bag" speech/essay.  It originally was taught to me to use as an oral presentation, but have adapted it to work for my creative writing pieces.  During the first week of school, I give my students a plain white paper lunch bag.  They are asked to first decorate the outside of the bag; there are five sides to the bag, so each side has a theme (likes/dislikes/hobbies, three qualities I possess, a career focus, someone I admire, and a hope/goal/dream).  Students are then asked to bring in three symbols that portray values in their lives.  We set up in small groups and each person removes their symbols and explains them to the group (rubric and outline is needed).  However, after that initial speech to get to know each other during the first week.  I keep the bags and when creative writing arises, I ask students to bring in another symbol from home and use that as a platform for their writing.  I am sure to make them aware that simply describing the object and what it means to them is not our final objective, using the symbol to build a create a story is our final objective.  It is a lot of fun to see what students bring in and the stories they create from something so simple.  Hope that this can be useful :)

sanmi | Student

excuse my mistakes ^^^ lol

sanmi | Student

One piece of advice would be not make it something random. Think of something you really like, or something interesting that happened to you in the past, or a place you want to go. Take it from there and allow your imagination to flow.

Don't be afraid to pick subject matter that you are passionate about, no matter what it is. It will be much easier to write if it's something you really care about.

Im liking what your saying...which inspired the others which have replied. But the thing is i dont find much going on in my my life right now... or i havent realised... but i will try to figure this one out.

I have written something, it is more about a depressed emotion so it doesnt really have anything to do with my life as it is it is quite happy, but i dont know how to progress it into a story. Or do you think it is enough writng about an emotion?