Tag Archives: writing craft

Writing Craft Book Review – SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder

Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder has been on my to-read list for quite a while. I don’t have any particular aspirations to write screenplays, but I know learning about writing from all different viewpoints is helpful, and this one had been recommended to me as a particularly good book.

Save the Cat is entertaining and enlightening. Spoiler Alert: The title comes from the part of the movie where unsympathetic protagonists do something to endear themselves to the audience, such as saving a cat.

What resonated with me the most about this book and that I can most closely apply to my own writing is the idea that I must know what my book is about, including the who, what, when, where, why, and how. It also reinforced the importance of the elevator pitch or very short summary you can spit out in a breath or two when someone asks you what your book is about. 

Save the Cat essentially gives a formula for writing screenplays that may make it to the mainstream movie theaters. I enjoyed reading about the author’s movie genres and found the discussion of beats instructive, though the beats of what I write are different than what you’d find in a movie screenplay.

I would agree with those that recommended Save the Cat as a good book to read regardless of what you’re writing and encourage you to do the same.

Review of diyMFA by Gabriela Pereira

diyMFA BookI’d previously heard someone mention the do-it-yourself masters-of-fine-arts degree in creative writing during a presentation, so I was thrilled when I came across Gabriela Pereira’s book, diyMFA. I’m also prone to doubts (watch my YouTube video here about how I release them); one of which is that I need an MFA in fiction writing to be successful. Thankfully, after reading diyMFA, I now know that it’s not necessary. Not only that, but with a diy MFA, I can tailor my study to my specific genre, historical fiction.

Gabriela breaks the diy MFA concept down into three categories to concentrate on to varying degrees at varying points in the process: write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community. The book addresses each of these areas, with the bulk concentrating on writing with focus. It gives you insight into traditional MFA components that you can incorporate into your own practice; things like writing every day, having people review your work, and connecting with other writers. I also liked how the book encompasses more than just writing mechanics, providing advice on what to do to help build the platform you’ll need when you publish, all while writing your book. I mistakenly thought that I would have to finish an MFA before I wrote my next book, but with Gabriela’s technique, you write the book while working on the diy MFA.

You can find diyMFA on Amazon here and you can learn more about the program and get lots of other information at DIYMFA.com.

Have you or are you endeavoring to complete your own diy MFA? I’d love to hear how it went or how it’s going. Just comment below. I’ll talk about my diy MFA progress in upcoming writing craft posts.

SINGING THE PRAISES OF FREE WRITING

Free writingI’m not sure if it was the first time I was introduced to free writing, but the first time free writing really stuck with me was when I read Natalie Goldberg’s, Wild Mind, in high school. I was struck by the concept of just letting the words dump out onto the page without caring about grammar, punctuation, or even if it was written well. It was so freeing.

When I’ve taught beginning creative writing workshops, I always stress the benefits of free writing. I even talked about how free writing can help marketing professionals create content in a recent PR Network presentation.

You never know what you’re going to bring out when you free write. It may simply just clear out the junk so you can write what you really want to write. Or you might think of your next big idea. Or you could flush out character profiles or plot twists. Or your random words can turn into a poem later. This has happened to me a lot. I thought I was just writing random things that popped into my head, but when I reread it later, I found meaning and a poem.

There are many different ways to free write, but I’ve often had the best results with timed free writing. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes or however long you have and keep your hand moving. If you get stuck, write “I don’t know what to write,” or whatever pissings and moanings you can think up. Eventually, your brain will get bored with that and give you something more meaningful.

Another technique I learned from Natalie Goldberg is to set your timer for an additional three to five minutes after the first timer goes off. As she advises will happen, I’m often startled at what comes out in those last few minutes, writing that would be lost if you stopped writing.

In either Wild Mind or Writing Down the Bones (or both), Natalie Goldberg provides some great “rules” for free writing:

  • Keep your hand moving
  • Lose control
  • Be specific
  • Don’t think, just write
  • Don’t worry
  • You are free to write junk
  • Go for the jugular

I try to remember to follow these rules every time I free write random things or on a specific project like a novel. Once I get that first draft of whatever it is down, I know that half the battle is over.

Do you have any free writing tips? Fee free to share them in the comments section.

 

WRITING’S DIRTY WORDS: FEEDBACK, CRITIQUE

communityDoes the thought of handing your writing over to a writing group to critique make you sweat with fear? Or maybe you’d like to join a writing group but you are nervous about what to say to your group-mates? If you are serious about your writing craft, you have surely heard that giving and receiving feedback is an important part of the process. It is true that feedback from others helps you to make your writing stronger. But it can be difficult. Letting others read your work, especially if you are not sure about its quality, can be a nerve-wracking experience. And if that’s not enough, when you join a critique group or attend a feedback session, you will be expected to deliver constructive criticism on others’ work as well. You may wonder what you have to offer others when you are still receiving help on your own work. The answer is a lot.

Unless you are in a writing group with Stephen King, Tom Clancy, or some other multi-national best-selling author, everyone in the group is in the same place (and I suspect even the famous authors receive some degree of working feedback). Whether you’ve written one book or six dozen, it is always valuable to know how readers see your writing and to listen to what works and what could be improved. Similarly, if you are interested enough in books and writing to be participating in a writing group, you have plenty to offer. If you follow the following advice, you can help to ensure a more helpful, fulfilling experience.

Giving Feedback

Writing and critique groups follow varying formats for sharing work. Usually, the number of pages will be decided upon in advance depending on the number of participants and the time allotted for the group meeting. Sometimes, they exchange pages via email or hard copy a certain amount of time in advance of the meeting, and sometimes the authors will read their pages to the group at the beginning of the meeting. Manuscripts may also be exchanged so someone else will read your work aloud, which can also be helpful.

If you receive writing ahead of time, read the pages carefully and make notes. It can also help to read it through the first time as a typical reader and then read it through a second time with a more critical eye. Make notes of things you found interesting, unique descriptions, poignant moments, and other passages or elements you enjoyed. Also note any questions you have, areas which were unclear for you, and if you have a suggestion for changing a word or a phrase, jot down the change. If pages are read at the meeting, listen as closely as possible and make the same notes.

When it is your turn to provide feedback, remember the sandwich method. First, point out at least two or three things you found interesting or enjoyable. Next, point out a couple of areas where you had questions, were confused, or that could be improved. For feedback on hard copies received in advance, you can skip over the small, copyediting changes because the writer will be able to see those when they get their pages back. Finally, end your feedback by naming an additional positive aspect or reiterating what you enjoyed.

Another thing to keep in mind while giving feedback is specificity. Avoid saying “it was good,” or “it was bad.” Include what specifically needs improvement or which particular words worked well. If you think an area needs to be better, try to offer suggestions about how it could be made stronger. Remember to be kind, which will be easy if you approach the experience as it should be approached: a group of people with common goals getting together to help each other improve their writing. Keep in mind that just as they are not experts, you are also not an expert. For all you know, what they wrote could be perfect; you are just offering your own opinions and perspectives and they are free to accept the advice or dismiss it.

Getting Feedback

Putting your work out there for others to judge can be a harrowing experience. What if they hate it? As mentioned above, if you cared enough to put it on paper and submit your work for review, there is going to be something good. And if they hate it, that is just that person’s opinion and it doesn’t doom your work for the trashcan; maybe that person just doesn’t know good writing when they see it. Regardless, if you find a caring, positive, help-oriented critique group, even if they did hate it, they will be able to pick some good things out and point out some areas where it may benefit from some changes.

When it’s your turn to get feedback, the most important thing to do is listen and take notes. If your group-mates have specific questions, answer them but don’t elaborate. Plan to have the urge to defend your work, pointing out what you meant, or attempting to correct viewpoints and then plan to bite your tongue, sit on your hands, or do whatever else you have to do to keep yourself from verbalizing those urges. However, while listening, do pay particular attention to passages, phrases, or sentences the readers didn’t understand or misunderstood as well as their questions, because these are like big red flags waving in the air indicating your writing was not clear enough in those areas.

Remember your critique group just wants to help you and, like you (presumably), they are all amateurs. Their opinions count and should be considered, but they are not the final words; If you think about what they say and decide they’re wrong, go with your gut instinct and don’t change it. A caveat, however: if several people say the same thing, consider what they said again a little more carefully before you dismiss them as wrong. And just because everyone says the same thing, it still doesn’t mean they are correct, so, in the end, don’t be afraid to go against the masses if you feel that strongly. Finally, say, “Thank you.” When you get home, read through your notes so they will be clear to you if you won’t be getting around to revisions right away. And then keep writing.

Feedback, giving it and getting it, is an integral part of the writing craft process. It can be scary, but don’t let that fear stop you from participating. Acknowledge your fear and do it anyway; follow these tips and hopefully doing it anyway will be a little easier.

Get Back Into Writing After an Absence

book vacaAn edited version of this post originally appeared on the Book Marketing Tools website in June 2015 (click here to view it).

You’ve no doubt heard more times than you can count how important it is to write, if not every day, at least regularly. But there will be times in your writing life when you’ll be pulled away from your work. Maybe it’s an extended illness or a much-deserved vacation. Then you get back, excited to return to the writing life routine.

And nothing.

You’re stuck.

You don’t where to begin or continue.

Pre-Planning

If you are pulled away from your writing craft for an illness or another sudden occurrence, there won’t be much you can do about it. But, if you’re taking a break, for a pre-planned event or vacation, you can plan ahead. If you’re in the middle of a book, make some notes about where you intend to go next. If you’re lucky enough to take a break between projects, make some notes about ideas to consider for your next book, including a list of research questions you’ll need to answer. This will give you a head start when you get back to your daily life.

Plan B

Let’s suppose now that either you didn’t know your hiatus was coming or you failed to plan ahead. You still have options to get yourself back in the groove quickly and painlessly.

Set Your Schedule

Make a list of all of your appointments, non-writing-related things you have to do, and any writing-related deadlines you’ve already committed to meeting for the next two weeks. Use Outlook or create a time schedule on a spreadsheet or by hand, like this:

(Or feel free to swipe this one.) Next, insert of all of your appointments. Decide how long it will take you to complete the non-writing related or writing-related tasks with deadlines and block off the appropriate time to work on them. Finally, pen in as many writing appointments as you are able. If you can put in at least an hour a day, that’s great, but if you can only fit in four or five over the entire two weeks, that’s fine, too.

Keep Your Appointments

After setting aside the time to write, the next most important thing to do is honor your appointments. Treat them like doctor appointments or other obligations you wouldn’t miss except for an emergency or illness. If you do have to miss an appointment, rearrange your calendar to reschedule it as soon as possible.

When You Arrive

As you sit down to do your writing craft at your allotted time, first congratulate yourself on your discipline. And then start writing. It may be frustrating at first. It might feel awkward or you might not know where to start, but don’t give up.

If you’re continuing work on a book, re-read the last several pages you wrote before your break to remind yourself of where you were going. If you need to start a new book, look through your idea file or brainstorm some ideas. Or maybe your next book is too daunting. If so, try an article. Search some keywords or phrases related to the topics you enjoy writing about online and read some blogs or articles that pop up, paying particular attention to the comment sections to see if you can answer any additional questions.

If you’re really stuck, free write. Set your timer for the length of your appointment slot and force yourself to keep your fingers moving writing or typing the entire time. “I want to write” is a great prompt; write about what you want to write in as much detail as possible, whether it’s a novel about a certain character with certain qualities, a how-to article that will teach people how to do something with these steps, or a non-fiction book that inspires people with certain insights. When you get stuck, write “I don’t know what to write” or “I’m stuck” or whatever whining complaints pop into your head. Eventually, your brain will get bored and will give you something.

And You’re Back

By the end of the two weeks (likely sooner), you will be back to your old writing self, cranking out words and finding your groove again.

Do you have any tips for getting back into the writing habit after an extended hiatus (or even a weekend)? If so, please share them in the comments section below.

CREATING AND RELIEVING TENSION FOR A CAN’T-PUT-IT-DOWN STORY

Photo by Graeme Maclean, Flickr creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gee01/871748702/
Photo by Graeme Maclean, Flickr creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gee01/871748702/

Think about the last really good, can’t-put-it-down, up-until-three-in-the-morning-just-one-more-chapter book you read. What was it that kept you reading? It was probably some sort of suspense. You just had to turn one more page to see how things turned out. This suspense is created by tension. The creative writing technique of creating tension and relieving tension is used by storytellers to pull readers through to the end of the story.

You can create tension in a variety of ways. But before we talk about that, let’s address when it is appropriate to increase tension and relieve it. Tension can be equated to conflict; it could be a conflict between two people, between people and an object, or between a people and what’s in their own heads. Fundamentally, it is someone wanting something but being prevented by something or someone else from getting it. Use tension to build suspense and keep people reading so they have to find out what happens.

One key in building tension is that the thing or circumstance wanted by the main character has to be important; the stakes need to be high. Let’s say you’re telling a story about someone who is late. Let’s say this person is five minutes late for a continuing education college class where the instructor notoriously takes ten minutes to get started on the lesson. Depending on the type of person she is, this may be quite a tense situation. However, now let’s say this same person is five minutes late for her last graduate class, it’s the final exam, and if she’s not there on time, the doors will be locked and she can’t get in, and if she can’t take the class, she has to wait a whole semester to graduate. Which scenario makes your throat tighten a bit?

To create tension, you can use one or more of these techniques:

  • First, write. Short. Sentences. All of those periods close together automatically create tension. It seems more urgent.
  • Use dialogue; showing people in actual situations having conversation makes the writing feel more alive and real, especially if what the person is saying is a façade for what he really thinks or believes.
  • Use specificity with dialogue. Make the words reflect the anger. “’Please, please, please let me in. I promise I won’t make a noise.’ She got on her knees and shook her clasped hands at the door guard.” vs. “She begged the door guard to let her in.”
  • Be specific with narrating the action: “She slammed her car door shut, catching her purse straps. She yanked until they let loose and she fell to the ground. She got up and stumbled to the auditorium.” vs. “She hurried to the auditorium.”
  • Stay close up. The first ways of writing in these last two points bring you close in to what’s happening in the story; the second ones pull you away. Staying close up builds tension.

Think about tension the next time you are writing. Build it higher and higher to keep the reader involved until the climax when you resolve the conflict and relieve the tension.

Get Back into the Writing Groove After Illness or Vacation

routineAn edited version of this post originally appeared on the Book Marketing Tools website on June 12, 2015 (click here to view it).

You’ve no doubt heard more times than you can count how important it is to write, if not every day, at least regularly. But there will be times in your writing life when you’ll be pulled away from your work. Maybe it’s an extended illness or a much-deserved vacation. Then you get back, excited to return to the writing craft routine.

And nothing.

You’re stuck.

You don’t where to begin or continue.

Pre-Planning

If you are pulled away from your writing craft for an illness or another sudden occurrence, there won’t be much you can do about it. But, if you’re taking a break for a pre-planned event or vacation, you can plan ahead. If you’re in the middle of a book, make some notes about where you intend to go next. If you’re lucky enough to take a break between projects, make some notes about ideas to consider for your next book, including a list of research questions you’ll need to answer. This will give you a head start when you get back to your daily life.

Plan B

Let’s suppose now that either you didn’t know your hiatus was coming or you failed to plan ahead. You still have options to get yourself back in the groove quickly and painlessly.

Set Your Schedule

Make a list of all of your appointments, non-writing-related things you have to do, and any writing-related deadlines you’ve already committed to meeting for the next two weeks. Use Outlook or create a time schedule on a spreadsheet or by hand, like this:

blank calendar

(Or feel free to swipe this one.) Next, insert of all of your appointments. Decide how long it will take you to complete the non-writing related or writing-related tasks with deadlines and block off the appropriate time to work on them. Finally, pen in as many writing appointments as you are able. If you can put in at least an hour a day, that’s great, but if you can only fit in four or five over the entire two weeks, that’s fine, too.

Keep Your Appointments

After setting aside the time to write, the next most important thing to do is honor your appointments. Treat them like doctor appointments or other obligations you wouldn’t miss except for an emergency or illness. If you do have to miss an appointment, rearrange your calendar to reschedule it as soon as possible.

When You Arrive

As you sit down to do your writing at your allotted time, first congratulate yourself on your discipline. And then start writing. It may be frustrating at first. It might feel awkward or you might not know where to start, but don’t give up.

If you’re continuing work on a book, re-read the last several pages you wrote before your break to remind yourself of where you were going. If you need to start a new book, look through your idea file or brainstorm some ideas. Or maybe your next book is too daunting. If so, try an article. Search some keywords or phrases related to the topics you enjoy writing about online and read some blogs or articles that pop up, paying particular attention to the comment sections to see if you can answer any additional questions.

If you’re really stuck, free write. Set your timer for the length of your appointment slot and force yourself to keep your fingers moving writing or typing the entire time. “I want to write” is a great prompt; write about what you want to write in as much detail as possible, whether it’s a novel about a certain character with certain qualities, a how-to article that will teach people how to do something with these steps, or a non-fiction book that inspires people with certain insights. When you get stuck, write “I don’t know what to write” or “I’m stuck” or whatever whining complaints pop into your head. Eventually, your brain will get bored and will give you something.

And You’re Back

By the end of the two weeks (likely sooner), you will be back to your old writing self, cranking out words and finding your groove again.

Do you have any tips for getting back into the writing craft habit after an extended hiatus (or even a weekend)? If so, please share them in the comments section below.

Your regularly scheduled post has been postponed – AND the best writing advice ever

IMG_0407Normally, this is the time of the month when I post something about the writing craft. However, I’m knee deep in getting ready for the launch party of my latest book, Taming the Twisted, (2-5 p.m. at Camanche Days near the arts/crafts tent in Camanche, Iowa, tomorrow 8/15/15 if you want to stop by.) I have everything packed and ready to go, as you can see from the huge pile in my living room here with my pets checking everything out.

However, so I don’t break the promise I set for myself to write a monthly writing craft post, here is my best writing craft advice:

Ready?

Get a pen and paper so you can take this down.

Okay, here goes.

Write.

That’s it.

Just practice. Write. And when you’re done, write some more.

Now, go. Do it.

If you want to learn more about the book keeping me so busy, go to http://jodietoohey.com/my-books/novels/taming-the-twisted/

Until we meet again…

FIND IDEAS IN UNLIKELY PLACES

Iceberg Lake
Iceberg Lake

Last Thursday, I returned from a two-week vacation, one week of which was spent in Glacier National Park in Montana. Since it’s about a 26 hour/1600 mile drive one way from where I live and we didn’t want to pay to fly, we took 4 days to drive there and 3 days to drive back, including a stop at my sister-in-law’s about 6 hours away to drop off our dog and our son (who didn’t want to go because of the hiking involved).

Sunset over Lake McDonald
Sunset over Lake McDonald

I took notebooks and writing utensils, of course, planning to be inspired by the beautiful scenery, which I was, but not enough to write a lot about it. I also took a stack of books to read but never got to them because of admiring said scenery.

Lake McDonald from Apgar Village
Lake McDonald from Apgar Village

I did find inspiration somewhere else that I suspect will be percolating for a while into something – maybe a novel. It was a book I found in one of the souvenir shops called Dream Chasers of the West. It’s the true story of Clara Miller Smiley from Minnesota who moved to Montana shortly after Glacier became a national park in 1910 to homestead.  In another store, I found Montana Women Homesteaders and bought that (but haven’t read it yet).

Hidden Lake Overlook
Hidden Lake Overlook

The idea that’s percolating is what if a woman connected to the Sinkey family from Camanche (see Taming the Twisted) ventured out to Montana to homestead on her own? I think that would make a great story and I already have some of the research materials.

From Highline Trail
From Highline Trail

The writing craft lesson? Keep your eyes and mind open; you never know where an idea will come from. Have you had an idea come to you from somewhere you didn’t expect (on the toilet, in the shower, and driving are expected)? If so, please share it in the comments section below or contact me. I’d love to hear about it.

 

WRITING CRAFT – QUICK START GUIDE

Photo from Steven Depolo, flick creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5749192621/
Photo from Steven Depolo, flick creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5749192621/

Do you want to start a writing craft journey, but you’re not sure where to start? You know all of the great reasons to write (for mental health, to express creativity, to inspire or help others, etc.), but you just can’t seem to begin? It’s easier than you think.

Step 1: Get out your Whittler
Carve out time.

While looking at your calendar and considering all of your other obligations (work, school, kids, chores, etc.), decide on a writing craft goal for the next week. Think of it like exercise. Start slow and increase your goal each week. Next, PEN it in. View your writing time as an appointment you can’t miss unless you have an emergency. Note: Laundry and dishes are not emergencies.

Carve out space.

All you really need is a pen or pencil and paper, but you may like a lamp or light, chair, desk or table, computer, and reference books. You can plan to write outside of the home like at a coffee shop, but it is a good idea to have some writing space at home for when you can’t get away.

Be ready.

Keep index cards or notebooks plus pens or pencils everywhere you go (by the bed, by the toilet, in the car) so you can jot down ideas and thoughts when they come (which you know will be when you least expect them). Or carry a digital voice recorder.

Sept 2: Get on the merry-go-round.

Do you already have an idea for a poem, story, creative essay, or another writing craft project? Great. Write it down. Write. Write. Write until there is no more. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc.

Not so lucky? Great. Write. Set the timer and write about anything and everything in your head in no particular order without worrying about writing mechanics. Use prompts from books or websites. Go somewhere and write what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Make lists and then when you write, pick one and go: places lived, old friends, vacations taken, questions you’ve had, heartbreaks, foods you like/dislike, things you know, teachers you’ve had, jobs you’ve held, or one of hundreds of other topics. Ask yourself, “What if…?” and then answer the question. Start with “I want to write about…” and then go into details. When you think you’re done, set the timer for a few more minutes and keep going.

Eventually, an idea for a poem, story, creative essay, play, or other work will come to you.

Step 3: Get it in shape.

Some projects may require research beyond what you already have in your head. If so, get that done first. Good resources include the library, the internet (just be careful of user-generated sites), personal interviews, and observation. Once you have everything you need, put your words in the final form you desire (poem, story, novel, etc.). Leave out stuff from Step 2 you don’t need or want but still don’t worry too much about the nitty-gritty, writing-class type details.

Step 4: Get it good.

This is where you really get down to business. Read through your piece as many times as needed to make it more exciting, interesting, readable, and insightful. If you need help, visit the book store or check out books at the library about whatever form you’re writing in (poetry, fiction, non-fiction) as well as about creative writing in general.

Especially in fiction and creative non-fiction, you can amp up the energy in your writing by using specific but not clichéd words, using dialogue, or by using shorter sentences. You can increase tension by creating a character; giving him or her a big, important problem; putting him or her in danger of not being able to solve the problem; then solving the problem while creating additional little problems that must also be solved before the story ends. Keep the stakes high; continually ask yourself, “Who cares?” In all forms of the creative writing craft, increase the impact of your images by creating pictures with words, involving all of the reader’s senses, and writing active rather than passive sentences.

Deepen insight by showing readers a truth about human behavior or offering a new way to look at something. Keep your point of view consistent unless you have a reason not to, keep your reader in mind as you revise, and show, don’t tell. (Show: “She shuffled her slippered feet across the hardwood floor.” Vs. Tell: “She was tired.”) You’re voice and style in creative writing is uniquely you. The only way to hone it is by practicing and learning by reading other work and writing craft books. The most important thing to keep in mind is your voice is YOU. Find yourself, who you are, what you’re about, how you feel, what you think, and you will find YOUR voice. The most efficient way to do this is to write.

Step 5: Get it in sharing shape.

Read and correct any of the nit-picky mistakes until your eyes glaze over. There are numerous writing craft reference books available if you need to brush up. Remember to:

  • Use correct punctuation and grammar (and if you break the rules, have a reason).
  • Read your work out loud and word for word and/or have others read it and give feedback.
  • Cut “That” out: Read the sentence without “that”; if it doesn’t belong, chop it.
  • Remember the power of said: It is a nearly invisible word so think hard before using something else like shouted or whispered. Try to make the dialogue speak for itself.
Step 6: Get it polished.

Once you think you have your work all edited and ready to go, read through it one more time. If it is a book-length piece and you want someone else to publish it, consider professional editing. No matter how good we are, our brains always want to read what we should have written and not what we actually wrote.

Step 7: Get it out there.

If you want your work published in print or electronically, query agents, publishers, and/or magazines as appropriate or publish it yourself. If you’re not interested in publication, you can still share your work with friends and family or start a blog (several are free). Participate in open readings or give your poems and stories as gifts.

Embarking on a creative writing craft journey can be a rewarding, healthful, and life-changing experience. Following these seven easy steps will get you going.