It may seem like an easy to answer question but for most writer’s it is a multi faceted one. I have answered with:
Word or picture prompts
Overheard snippets of conversation
An idea popped into my head randomly
A personal interest
A topic of conversation
A couple of examples:
My children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare was a Halloween prompt, which I turned upside down. It is the monster’s point of view of Halloween and his first scare adventure with his Mum.
The Rython Kingdom began as a series of prompts that gelled together to form a story by pure chance.
It is not so clear cut as these to be honest but it helps a non-writer understand the creativity side of our brains a little easier.
I presented a workshop on how to formulate an idea into a novel at the WFSC writer’s conference in the spring. From that initial spark to compiling a story line/arc, creating a plot arc, introducing characters, and finding the correct conclusion for the genre. It was a fun experience.
APOLOGIES this post should have gone out yesterday! I was reveling in my day off…
A recent comment by a writer I know stunned me into silence. What did they say you may ask? This is the statement :
I’m not sure I have anything to write at the moment.
If you are like me the the fact of this sentence is mind blowing. How can you have nothing to write I thought. I have so many ideas in my head I worry I may not get them all written before I go to MUSE central!
Maybe it was not a lack of ideas my friend had but the problem of deciding which one to pursue? Many of us have numerous story ideas bouncing around inside our heads.This may seem a good problem to have, however, too many ideas and no focus can be just as debilitating as staring at a blank page or screen. Symptoms can include indecision, procrastination, failure to meet deadlines, insomnia and anxiety.
The problem is how do we ensure these golden nuggets are not lost? We endeavor to keep them by making frantic notes but musing over where they could possibly lead to can lead to devastating interruption to our current project. So how do we identify if this ‘new’ idea is worth pursuing?
There are many strategies we can employ to decide on which are best to keep – here are a few to try:
a) Leave the chaos of your writing space with pen and paper or recording device and go for a walk. Once you are in a new environment the most exciting and prominent idea(s) will stay with you. Write or record them and let your imagination flourish with them for a while.
b) Restrict your time on musing about new ideas by setting yourself a time limit. Even a ten minute burst of inspirational writing will ensure you get the idea down but not ‘waste’ too much time on it. Once it is written put it to one side and continue with your current project, safe in the knowledge the idea has been dealt with.
c) Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then mark it down as your next project. However, if the idea is vague, do not pursue it – just jot down the outline and file it.
d) Utilize your passion when defining whether an idea is worth reflection. If it excites you or is on a subject you feel passionate about then it should be considered in depth.
e) Get yourself an idea board. Organize each idea into genre or categories and when a new plot, character or scene comes to you place it with the other components of that particular story.
f) Bounce your ideas off a few trusted friends or members of your writing group.
It is thought a ‘problem’ to have too many ideas – they densely populate our minds. Crowding out each other and jostling for attention. It can be frustrating when we are embroiled in a current project. We hastily jot down the details of the new idea, too frightened to leave it to chance that we will remember it later. This removes our mind set from progressing with our existing work, if only for a short time. These ‘breaks’ can either be a good thing – returning refreshed and with renewed vigor or a bad thing – lured into the new project and dissatisfied with the WIP.
How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?
What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you?
How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?
Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?
“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”
Hiatus – definition: a break or pause in the continuity of action
Have you noticed that there are more and more bloggers taking ‘breaks’ from their blogs lately. When I put the word hiatus into the’topic box’, it brings up a long list, and that’s just in the blogs I follow. Are we burning out? Is the constant pressure of having to blog, having an adverse effect on us? Has the first bloom of enthusiasm begun to fade?
Yesterday, I spoke about time management – but is it more than just time we are lacking? Is the need to write captivating and interesting blogs straining our creative minds? Shouldn’t we be using that creativity for our novels not our blogs?
Can we divide our creativity into sub-sections? Should we? Surely our creative energy should be focused on our current project(s), isn’t that where our real attention should be? Are our main projects suffering because of it?
As my 2013 commitment continues, I can attest to having worries concerning my current WIP’s, the draw of a post a day leads me to my blog first rather than my manuscripts. Sometimes I am ahead of the game with several blogs drafted but at others, I lapse and panic when I realize I have to write one. My only consolation is that I only have to post per day for 2013 and can reduce the amount of posts next year. I’m already on day 222 for 2013, only 143 to go!
What are your thoughts on blogging versus manuscript writing?
Happy Easter Sunday to those of you who celebrate it. I am sharing a small part of my current WIP today. It is a children’s story about two woodland sprite’s who heal sick and injured animals in the forest they live in. It is very rough as it was my NaNoWriMo novel, so apologies for editing errors I have not got to as yet. The title is Ockleberries to the Rescue.
The following excerpt is the end of a chapter where the sprite’s home was seriously damaged by a storm. Their deer and beaver friends have come to help re-build. I would appreciate comments on word usage and an idea of the target age I should go for.
“That’s a very impressive bit of building you have there, Crispin.”
“It’s all thanks to the beavers to be honest, Dash.”
At that moment Matilda appeared carrying something in her mouth. She lay it down in front of Tansy.
“A home warming gift of sorts, Tansy something for the new room. I hope you like it.”
Tansy picked up the beautifully made bowl. It had finely gnawed edges and sides.
“It is exquisite. Thank you Matilda. There was no need to bring anything; you and your family have been more than kind helping us.”
“It was my pleasure and anyway I enjoy making finer objects. I knew the boys could cope without me for a while. Looks like they have been more than just coping.”
“Yes, they have been very industrious. We only have the holes to block up now and Crispin can hang the door into its new place.”
“So if you are happy to finish on your own I think I will take my boys home.”
“We can certainly finish up ourselves, thank you all for an amazing job. We know the extra room will be a real bonus when helping our fellow woodland creatures.”
Arm in arm in front of their new façade, Tansy and Crispin waved the beaver family off. It would take a few weeks for Crispin to make extra furniture and Tandy more shelves but they were happy knowing it was all for the benefit of the animals that came into their care.