Universal Creative Tips For Everyone & Everything

Although many times tips and advice depend on exactly what kind of thing it is you're trying to create, there are a few that hold true no matter what it is. From the biggest novel to the tiniest flash fiction, from entire plots to individual plot elements or characters, from things meant to be enjoyed by everyone or just to be seen by a tiny audience, these hold true no matter what you're creating.

Table of Contents

Beware of creative ruts.

Do you find yourself creating the same kinds of characters over and over, or do nearly all of your characters have one particular trait for no good reason? Do a lot of your characters look very similar to each other? Or do a lot of your plots revolve around extremely similar scenarios? You might have fallen into a rut. That's a bad place to be because it means that you've likely become predictable, and therefore probably boring. So always watch yourself and what you create. If you start seeing a repeating pattern anywhere, it's time to put the offending element or elements on a "do not use" list for awhile. Challenge yourself to do something else. You might even pleasantly surprise yourself with the results!

Beware of the toxic vision!

Too many creators get far too caught up in realizing their creative visions exactly as they envision them. So they might try to create a story, setting, character who is this precise exact way - then when people don't respond to it as well as hoped, they blame it on people just not understanding or respecting their visions instead of accepting responsibility for making something that just didn't work.

Yes, it hurts when you pour your heart and soul into something and people don't react as well as you'd hoped - but at the end of the day, it's not a failing on their part if they don't like it. The unfortunate truth is that "creative visions" like these are often made up of what would be pleasing or interesting to the creator, with little regard for what would make the audience happy or hook them in.

So if you're trying to realize a creative vision of yours, make sure you stop and ask yourself a few questions. What's going to grab and keep people's interest? If you're writing a story, are you perhaps so caught up in realizing your vision that you overlooked the fact that your story is hard to get immersed in, if you're unfamiliar with the setting already? If you're creating a character, did you perhaps forget to make sure that your character comes off as interesting and likeable enough for the audience to care about? If you were in the position of someone completely unfamiliar with your creation, would you really be seeing anything that made you want to know more? Did put so much focus on making your creation exactly how you wanted that you forgot to ask yourself how or why it would appeal to others?

"But so-and-so likes it!" you might argue. Look closely - who actually likes it? Is it your target audience at large, or is it just a small number of die-hard fans who will praise and defend you no matter what you do? If it's the latter, your creation probably isn't very good.

Don't get too comfortable in your success.

After making a successful and highly-praised work or two, it's easy to start thinking that we've got it all figured out and we know exactly what we're doing. But once this happens, mistakes that we would have caught earlier start passing under our radars, or we just start dismissing criticism that we would have taken more seriously before - and should take more seriously now.

Always remember that no matter how good your fans and supporters say you are, you can still make mistakes. Never stop being critical of your own work and don't stop listening to critical advice. Never be afraid to ask if something seems a little off somewhere. Otherwise, well... just look at how the Star Wars prequel trilogy went over.

Remember, there's no "one-size-fits-all" formula for success.

Just because something worked at some point doesn't mean you can count on it to keep working wherever and whenever you use it. Reasons include:

You might also be interested in:

"Is This A Good Idea For My Story/Setting/Character?" - How To Answer This For Yourself!
Dealing With Criticism & Negative Reviews
A Few Things You Really Need To Know As An Anxious Writer And/Or Artist
How To Break Your Creative Blocks

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