Creative essay writing techniques: how to write a creative essay

If creativity doesn’t always seem to come naturally to you, creative essay writing can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Studies show that some people are naturally more creative than others. So if you don’t always feel a flood of ideas when you open a Word document, you are not alone.

Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to encourage creativity when you run out of inspiration. If you are willing to experiment, work and keep going until you create something you are proud of, you are already on the right track.

Today, we’ll cover some of the crucial steps you can take when writing a creative essay to improve your chances of making the right impression with your writing.

Creative essay writing

What is a creative essay?

A creative essay is not about putting words on a piece of paper to reach a certain word count. Rather, these essays are tests of your ability to explore ideas and explain concepts to an outside party.

In the academic world, creative essays can be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your research skills as well as your speaking and writing skills.

Creative essays are common at almost all levels of education – you will even write these papers during your studies. So it pays to master the basics as soon as possible.

The good news is that in creative essay writing, you have the freedom to explore different types of topics and ideas if you are "creative" – even if you are not an accomplished essay writer.

The bad news is, the more freedom you have, the harder it can be to figure out where to start.

Creative essay writing

Steps to writing a creative essay

Where to start

The first step in writing a creative essay is to decide what you want to write about. The best option for most students is to choose a topic that is personal to them. This can be an excellent option, as you can bring first-hand experience to the story.

You can also experiment with writing prompts – there are dozens of them online, available from would-be authors. You can even get help from a custom essay writing service.

Some creative options include:

  • A normal life event gets out of control.
  • A scenario that leads to the end of the world.
  • A futuristic look at what might happen one day.
  • A look at the past from a different perspective.
  • A story where a person’s unique skills help them deal with adversity.
  • A story about something you love, like horseback riding or bicycling.

You could even just try fun ideas, like what would you do if you became invisible for a day, or what would happen if you woke up as Batman?

How to write a creative essay?

Before you start

Once you’ve found a topic for your creative essay writing, it’s time to start planning.

It’s often helpful to organize your thoughts in a full brainstorming session before you start writing. It ensures that you have a complete structure for your story with a beginning, middle and end. When planning doesn’t happen, people often wonder what to do next after the main event of their story has happened.

Plan a successful essay by:

Research on your topic

Take notes and collect important information about the topic you want to cover. It’s important to be accurate, even if you’ve chosen a somewhat odd theme – like time travel. Research can make your story seem more advanced.

Plan the basic structure

Decide how you want your story to begin, how you want it to end, and what happens in the middle. How do you present your character? What important event or problem will they face? Will they fix one problem only to be confronted with another, bigger one?

How will you end up wrapping it all up?

Write a rough draft

Put something on paper, then read through it and think about where you might need to expand or develop your ideas. This is a great opportunity to remove any unnecessary information that doesn’t contribute to the story.

Creative essay writing

Creative ways to write an essay


Now you have all the basics of a plan and can start working on your essay. Some people prefer to start with a title and use it for their writing structure. Other people find choosing a title too difficult before they’ve seen for themselves how the story plays out.

You may find it easier to choose a placeholder title so you can go back and edit it later.

When you write your title, make sure it has an impact. The right option is usually a witty, appealing title to let readers know what the story is about.

You can use a funny title like (Google) "Searching for answers" for a story about a murder that happens when your character runs Google headquarters.

Once you’ve followed the tips above, you can start polishing your outline after your title is complete. The best structure for a creative essay is usually the Oxford 3-point method.

In other words:

Put up

This is where you establish the characters, the location, and how people relate to each other.

You can also use some foreshadowing here if you know what will happen later in your story, z.


Here history has a turning point. Something happens to form the core of the action. Maybe your character is suddenly transported back in time and is now on the run from police who think he’s a distant ancestor and crime boss.

The challenge needs to be big enough to grab the reader’s attention. A character stumbling down the street is not enough confrontation.


Now you can begin to figure out how your character solves the problem. How does your time traveler shake the police and return to his own time? He might still face some challenges on the way to victory, but he should get there eventually.

How to focus on writing an essay

Essay writing tips

There are countless creative ways to write an essay. Some people like to write the ending first and work backwards from there. Others start by writing the main action points of the essay and then figuring out what happens before and after them.

It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.

A good way to make sure you don’t lose focus is to set aside periods of time where you focus on writing and nothing else. Block out all other distractions, turn off your phone, and make sure you don’t leave your keyboard until you’ve produced a certain number of words.

Here are some quick tips to help you with your writing:

Just start writing

The main goal of your writing will be to get something down on paper first. Many people find it difficult to start simple when it comes to creative essay writing.

When you can stop worrying about making the content sound perfect and just focus on getting your ideas down, you can polish and rewrite later on.

Be detailed

As you add details to your creative writing, you can immerse the reader in the experience. This does not mean you should write several paragraphs about what a piece of sidewalk looks like, but add details where it matters.

Little things like metaphors, symbols, and personification are a great way to add depth to the story.

Be brutal with editing

For some creative writers, the editing process takes longer than the writing itself. As you edit, you can go back and remove anything that doesn’t add real value to the story. This is the time to be really critical of yourself.

Anything that doesn’t make sense or sounds like you’re rambling about nothing should be deleted. However, try not to start from the beginning too often. If you think you’re being too harsh, ask someone else to read your essay and give their opinion.

Focus on flow

Great creative essays should flow seamlessly from beginning to end. Look for long, clunky, complex sentences that derail your story. Transition words are great for keeping everything connected, like "however" and "therefore".

Experimenting with different lengths in your sentences can also make your writing sound more natural. Try to mix short and long sentences.

Connect the plot

Remember to tie up all your loose ends when you come to the conclusion. Don’t make the mistake of introducing dozens of subplots that lead nowhere. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use a cliffhanger if you want to.

The goal is to make sure the only questions your readers are left with are the ones you want them to have.

Creative essay writing

Master your essay writing techniques

Creative essay writing will always be easier for some people than others. However, practicing the above strategies should put you in a good position to produce something you can be proud of.

Remember, read and review the pacing of your creative piece several times before you submit it, and ask other people to analyze it as well if you can. Another pair of eyes could spot errors that you have overlooked.

One last tip? Try not to be too concerned with perfection. Your essays will improve over time, but it’s important to be kind to yourself while you’re still learning. Don’t let the fear of producing something "not good enough" keep you from even getting started.

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