Recently I read a blog post somewhere by an author (wish I could remember who so I could link it for you) talking about how each time she approached a book, the process is completely different. I know I’ve talked about this in the past, but the whole idea was reinforced this week and I thought it deserved a second look.
Inspiration and ideas can come quite literally from anywhere. There’s no wrong way to be inspired (unless, of course, you’re literally ripping your plot and characters from another author’s work and trying to publish it. That’s just plain mean). Just as an example, here is a list of where some of my recent ideas have come from:
- Witnessing an almost-accident
- Hearing a song for the first time
- Seeing an ambulance outside a hotel
- A conversation with my mom
- Reading a book
- Eavesdropping on another conversation
- Coming up with a band name and wishing I could use it in a story
My most recent idea is perhaps the most inexplicable. Sometime during the course of the morning, an image popped into my head. I held onto it (I was driving, so I couldn’t write it down) and the image started evolving into a scene and then I started writing and the scene started evolving into a story. Three days into the project I’m over the 16,000 word mark, have a whole group of characters I really like, a story I think might be something good, and no clue how any of it happened. It might have been a dream, but I never remember my dreams in any detail so I can’t be sure. It might have been something rolling around in my subconscious for a while that just decided it was ready to show up. There’s no way to know.
The point I’m trying to make is this: read about ways to “cure” writers block all you want, but the best advice I’ve ever heard is to write, read, and live. Even fantasy stories are based on things that happen in the real world.
Once you have that idea, the same “anything goes” theory applies to writing the story, believe it or not. Outlining and research first or scrambling to write scenes whenever they pop into your head? Progressing linearly or jumping between sections of the story and filling in the holes later? Honestly, this is one of those situations where the end justifies pretty much any means short of torture and murder. Do you write best while standing on your head and dictating to your pet rabbit? Go for it! But do you need to use the same process for every single book? Absolutely not! I definitely haven’t.