What does it take to be a creative writer? It is contained in that very first word: creativity. The creative writer needs to envision a full, fascinating, stylish and self-contained world outside of his or her own world. Even if the life you describe is based on your own life, you need an elevated and invigorated sense of place and self, and the shape of things as you perceive them. You need to be intuitive, perceptive and vivacious in breathing life into both the familiar and the exceptional. You need to make the familiar exceptional. You need to realise strong characters with real flaws, and create a community so that your characters do not exist alone. In other words, a creative writer is a world-maker. You also need to be comfortable working alone in a room for hours on end. Take solace in silence and the pleasure of simple things: breathing, typing, understanding yourself alone. You need to be all right with spending all morning turning a sentence around and around, putting the...

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