Creativity is a very much overlooked quality in our society where obtaining right answers is more important than exploring new possibilities. While in academics, there is a need for students to understand vital concepts and to be able to answer examination questions, a lack of creativity in a student would only lead to him or her being at most ‘book smart.’ Without a sense to dream and push their own learning beyond what is in the textbooks, students miss out on opportunities to exercise inventiveness which is crucial to problem solving. In this article, I will be writing on how to exercise creativity in composition writing in English but do note that there are principles that can be applied to any other subjects.

One of the common problems students run into when writing a story for their composition is the lack of ideas or the use of plot clichés which teachers have probably read many times. A reason could be that students are used to taking reference from model essays for plotlines and when too many students are using the same few plotlines, those storylines become overused. Hence, these are some tips to develop creativity in students when it comes to writing engaging and compelling stories.

1. Allow yourself to create junk

When students try to think of plotlines or what happens next in their stories, they tend to stick to what is safe and predictable and so their stories become boring. For example, if the requirement of a composition to write a story about helping somebody, a probable story would be that of a boy who encounters an old lady who has difficulty walking or carrying her groceries and so, the boy out of goodwill, helps her. The story certainly meets the requirement, but it is terribly predictable and would probably not score high in terms of content.

But when you allow yourself to create junk, in the sense where you think of unconventional situations that can occur in your story. Of course, they should not be illogical or nonsensical like scenarios of aliens visiting Earth or a talking animal. For example, for the story of helping somebody, after the boy encounters the old lady, he helps her to carry her groceries to her home. Upon reaching her home, the boy realizes the old lady is a hoarder and lives in extremely bad conditions. That is when the boy truly helps the old lady by convincing her to let go of the things she does not need and steps in to clean her house.

As an English tutor, I carried out an activity in my English class which had my students take turns to write what happens next in the stories their peers had started. Through this exercise, they became less inhibited and began to write twists in the stories and made the composition less predictable and more interesting.

To exercise creativity, always ask yourself “Why not?”

2. Create on a schedule

Understandably, it is not easy to always come up with interesting storylines just off the top of one’s head. That is why to develop one’s creativity, you have to write consistently and generate ideas in response to composition topics.

Contrary to popular belief that creativity is an inborn trait, creative thinking can actually be trained. When you intentionally create on a schedule, you are training your mind to think in a specific manner.

Furthermore, when we are creating on a daily basis, we also begin to recognise what are mediocre ideas and not write them into your stories.

3. Share your ideas

Often when we are the ones writing, we can fail to see possible flaws or areas for improvement in our own stories. Having another person read what you have written can also open your eyes to other possibilities to make your stories more engaging to a reader.

Creativity is not only displayed in a beautiful painting or a catchy song but can also be exercised in our attitude towards learning by going beyond the textbook and explore new ideas.

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