What does it mean to be a creative writer? As a young student from high school to university, I took pleasure in writing. Writing in all forms – nonfiction writing, personal memoir and occasionally fiction writing. Journal writing was what I turned to every night before going to sleep. I often won accolades and many positive comments on my writing. The day my 9th grade teacher read my work to the entire class, that was when I realized that I had it in me to be a decent writer, and maybe even a future career that utilized my imagination and way with words. But I didn’t think I was particularly creative. To be the next R.L. Stine, Francine Pascal or Ann Martin – all of whom brought so much joy to my childhood and teenage years with their stories – was a whole new level. R.L Stine was and is still an active horror writer whose books kept probably every prepubescent kid up at night. Francine Pascal wrote the Sweet Valley High series, which was later turned into a TV show and featured a pair of twins as they experienced the highs and lows of their high school years; Ann Martin is the author of the Babysitters Club series featuring a group of friends, each of whom had their own stories. These books lit up my imagination about worlds I would probably never enter and reinforced my craving to scribble away with my BIC pen to draft out a story taking place in another time and another part of the world. Regardless, I always wondered what inspired these authors to write what they wrote. Was it personal experiences? Or was it something else?
The answers lies in their creativity. It’s their ability to weave stories out of a combination of imagination and real life experiences. Maybe R.L Stine never saw ghosts. But the teenagers in his novels were very much like real life teenagers back then. What also made his novels so addictive was the additional supernatural elements – ghosts and hauntings. Regardless of one’s opinion on ghosts, they are stories of ordinary people confronted with unimaginable evil. But the bottom line is a story of courage and resourcefulness when faced with the seemingly impossible. So he kept his readers turning and turning the pages.
Both Ann Martin and Francine Pascal created memorable characters in their respective series. These characters are really unexceptional but their experiences in the stories resonate with the reader. High school drama, family and social pressure and other personal dilemmas; these are all things that ordinary people deal with on a daily basis. Maybe this is why these stories appealed to me as a teenager as I worked on my own set of very teenage struggles.
To be a creative writer involves a keen observation of our external world while our imagination resides within us. A creative writer blends ingredients from both worlds. He or she does not use the most flowery language to attract readers. As I have posted on this website before, creativity is the ability to marry elements of multiple sources. For creative writers, it is not the ability to found a new genre or develop a never-seen-before type of character that nobody relates to or cares about. It is all about developing characters who confront various challenges that we all face in everyday life – psychological or social. It is okay to write about ordinary characters in the most ordinary settings. There are stories in the most ordinary things. A good writer is like a good tour guide who both takes the reader through the process to a resolution and leaves them to find their own conclusion.
We can find inspiration in the most ordinary of things like the trill of birds or a shadow on a wall, or even that woman sitting in Starbucks everyday. They are sources of creativity.