How to Make the Most of Boring Creative Writing Assignments

Two Parts:Making the Most of a Boring AssignmentInvesting in the Class

Even if you want to do well in class, being bored with an assignment is a tough obstacle to overcome. Getting invested the class as a whole is the best way to make these assignments more interesting. However, that's a long process, and won't help you in the short term. If you just can't bring yourself to care about your creative writing assignment that's due soon, there are many tricks to try to pique your interest.

Part 1
Making the Most of a Boring Assignment

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    Approach the prompt from a different angle.[1] The best thing about a creative writing assignment is that you get to be creative! Maybe the exact wording on the assignment sheet doesn’t excite you. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to get excited about it.
    • For example, the assignment might ask you to write about a character that’s fighting with his parents. That doesn’t mean you can’t set your story a thousand years in the future, in space.
    • A poetry prompt might ask you to describe your mother. What if you wrote from your perspective when she was still carrying you? What do you imagine you might have thought about your mother as an unborn child?
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    Write people you know into your characters.[2] If you’re finding it hard to care about your characters, infuse them with people you care about in real life! Your protagonist’s crush on a boy at school will seem more realistic if she feels the way you feel about your own crush. You can also try mixing different people into your characters. For example, your antagonist might pop his gum all the time the way your mean older brother does. Try adding the way your mom glares at you when she’s mad to scenes where the protagonist and antagonist confront each other. You might even use a description of how your dog snarls at trespassers to describe that person.
    • Be careful not to be too obvious about who you’re writing about. It would be really embarrassing for your crush to find out you liked him before you were ready to tell him!
    • You can also hurt people’s feelings if you’re not careful. Use just enough of the people in your life to keep yourself interested, but not enough to make it a story about them.
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    Draw from your personal experiences.[3] Another way to connect to a boring assignment is by using it to explore your meaningful personal memories. For example, your teacher may take you on a walking tour of a park and ask you to write about something you see. The poem you write might start off talking about a tree you saw, but use it as a bridge to a more meaningful memory. The field reminded you of the summer you spent at your grandmother's farm in Oklahoma. You worked out in the sun that whole summer, and for some reason your grandfather always gave your ice cold buttermilk when you came into the house, sweaty. You saw a horse give birth that summer. When you watched your grandparents looking after the foal, it made you wonder how they tended your mother when she was little.
    • In this example, you started with a broad, potentially boring prompt: respond to this park. But you turned it into something meaningful. The park is a place that connected you to memory and family.
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    Borrow interesting stories from your friends. Remember that time your cracked up everyone at the lunch table talking about her adventures over winter break? Work some of those details into your story! Great writers are always stealing from what they observe around them. This might mean they make a character look like someone they saw at the airport. It might mean they make a character say something funny they overhead at the mall.
    • Instead of stealing wholesale from one source, try to "braid" your material.[4] Braiding means weaving details from different sources together to create a new, stronger fabric.
    • Pair a funny story from your best friend with one of your mom's mannerisms. Change some things about the story to make it even better. Don't be limited by reality in creative work!
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    Try to write in the style of your favorite authors. If the subject you're being asked to write about doesn't hold your attention, focus on the way you write it instead. While you want to create your own original voice, mimicking your favorite writers is a great way to develop it. What do you like most about the way your favorite books are written? Do you love the way Faulkner uses natural dialogue? Make a game of observing the people around you, and try to describe how they talk. It doesn't have to be the south, either. If you live in New Jersey, really try to capture the way people speak in your state.
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    Ask the teacher if you can write about something else. Don't ask for a subject change immediately. You should at least put some thought into how you could come up with an interesting response to the prompt. But if the deadline is coming up and you can't find your way into the assignment, it can't hurt to ask. If you have a good relationship with your teacher, he may be willing to give you some leeway. Many teachers find that letting students follow their interests produces better work anyway.[5]
    • Make sure not to insult him when you ask to change the subject, tough. There's a good chance he put a lot of love and care into crafting this assignment.
    • Be as diplomatic as possible. Explain that you've tried to write the assignment several times. Describe your failed attempts to him.
    • Offer a clear alternative that's still related to the original task. For example, don't try to replace a poem with a short story. Or if a story is supposed to focus on a relationship, don't try to replace it with a murder mystery.

Part 2
Investing in the Class

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    Ask questions.[6] If you doze off in the back of the classroom every day, you'll never find anything in the class interesting. When you pay attention, though, you may hear things you either don't understand or disagree with. Either way, asking questions is a great way to increase your interest in a subject. Try playing devil's advocate if you're having trouble engaging with the subject. For example, if the teacher says that not all poetry has to rhyme, you might say "but it has throughout most of it's history. What if this is just a fad that people will make fun of 200 years from now?"
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    Steer the conversation toward topics that interest you. Your teachers want to know who you are and what your interests are. They may even begin crafting lectures and assignments toward those interests. During class discussions, find ways to guide the conversation toward the things you want to talk about. Say, for example, that you love the A Song of Ice and Fire novels on which Game of Thrones is based. If the class is talking about character development, ask for opinions on having a huge cast of characters, like those books do. Do people think the characters are underdeveloped? Does the length of the books come into play? The number of books that have been written about those characters? With any luck, your teacher will pick up on an interest shared by the students and give you a fun assignment!
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    Ask the teacher for reading advice. If you just can't get interested in the class, be honest with your teacher and ask for help. Set aside some time for a real conversation where you share your interests with him and ask for advice. Think about what kinds of TV shows and movies you like. What's the best book you've ever read? The only poem that's every really spoken to you? The teacher will be able to make recommendations based on your preferences. If you're reading books you love, you'll be more excited about creative writing assignments in general.
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    Try to make a friend in class. Having someone to talk to can make any class more enjoyable. Find someone who has a similar interest in getting more invested in the class, and talk to them about it. After school, you can talk about what bored you this particular day, and what you wanted to talk about instead. Together, you may be able to drive class discussion toward subjects that are more interesting.

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