Finding What to Write

All right, I’m sure we all get the concept of writers needing to write to get better (as stated in my previous post). But it’s really hard to start typing or scribbling if we have no idea where to begin or where to go once we actually find a couple words to jot down. Where is a writer supposed to get his or her inspiration?

I sometimes envy journalists and ghostwriters. They have an editor or a boss telling them what needs to be written. Their topics are handed to them and then they’re sent off packing. Ghostwriters get even more help–sometimes an entire plot is given to them. All they need to do is flesh out the “skeleton”.

My envy is always short-lived, however, because I know I couldn’t handle either situation.

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Firstly, I detest research, so journalism was always out of the question for me. This is the main reason I write fantasy. I get to create the world of my stories from top to bottom. I don’t need to know proper police procedure when a civilian calls in the discovery of a dead body. My crimes happen in realms I invent, so the characters follow the rules I come up with. I also don’t need to read up on airline protocols (since I haven’t had the pleasure of flying, as of yet). I can magic my mages to whatever place I wish and don’t have to explain how they got there. It’s simply magic.

Secondly, I’m a pantser, not a plotter. If you don’t know what that is, there’s an excellent post on Fantasy Fiction’s blog that explains it quite nicely. You can find it here: Writer’s Den: Plotters vs. Pantsers | Fantasy Faction. But I’ll give you the gist of it. Plotters plot their story from start to finish. They figure out first how everything will happen, then they write. Pantsers write “by the seat of their pants”. They write and let the story go where it wants to go. The rigid structure of an outline you’re not allowed to deviate from infuriates me, because I always find myself coming up with different options that make the story that much better. Ghostwriters need to be plotters or they would soon find themselves without any clients.

But I’m getting off topic here. I’ll touch on the Plotters vs. Pantsers choice in a later post. I’ve actually tried both styles and feel like sharing.

Today, we’re talking about finding what to write. One question you should never ask an author is: “Where do you find your ideas?”. The answer is usually “I don’t know”. You might as well ask them where their dreams come from, or what their thought process is when they cringe after suddenly noticing something flying at their face. Of course, I’m sure there are some that actually can answer that question. They might have had quite a brainstorming session to find their topic, weighing every possibility and likely outcome. But these people are no doubt plotters, so I can’t speak for them.

Personally, my ideas just come to me. They just pop in my head at unexpected moments. And if you’re unprepared, you’re most likely to forget them. For a time, I carried a small voice recorder with me everywhere I went. When something hit me, I would take it out of my pocket and leave myself a message so I could write it down later. I felt stupid talking to myself in public, so I switch to an old fashioned notepad that a friend had given to me for Christmas. Now I use an app on my smart phone. It’s much less bulky and I always have it on me. Having something that allows you to jot down notes with you at all times means you’ll always be prepared to capture those elusive ideas.

Something to keep in mind when deciding on a long writing project is passion. It’s always easier to write about something you love, whether it be an activity or a memory. Just remember how tedious it was writing those essays in high school. Now forget how discouraging that was. You can now decide to write about something interesting. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re the only one that feels as passionate as you do on the subject you choose. There are always others out there that will feel as you do. And readers can tell when an author was truly dedicated to their work. It shows with every paragraph written and the excitement is often conveyed to the reader.

So find something that interests you, something you love, and you’ll find the words pouring out of your fingers in no time.


~ by Marc Labelle on September 15, 2012.

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