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Where do you get your ideas from?
Rommel Luna H
Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012 2:32 PM
Joined: 1/20/2012
Posts: 12


OK, the title was a joke. I'm not really asking that (isn't that one of the worst questions you can get as a writer?).
The real question is: Do you force yourself into getting ideas, or do you wait for the muse to visit you?
Do you proactively look for a topic to write about, or do you write about the ideas you already have in your head and that beg to be put on paper?

I, personally, have never in my life sat down in front of a blank page and tried to imagine something to write about. Actually, I'm the laziest writer you can find and my ideas always have a very difficult time pushing me to sit down and write about them. My incubation period from when I get an idea and when I write about it is often longer than what my ideas would like (I start having dreams about it before I get off my comfy/lazy life and into the torture world of keying the words into my computer).

So, therefore (maybe this is besides the point my question wants to raise), I’ve never understood the concept of “writer’s block”. I mean, for me, if you can’t write, is because you don’t have anything to write about.

I have in my computer 21 micro-drafts that outline 21 potential novels I would like to write one day. Being such a lazy bum I think I will be able to write half that (if I’m lucky) in my life – maybe more if I’m lucky and can retire some years before I hang the shoes. I won’t even go into the 30-something ideas for short stories that live under one shy folder next to these drafts.

So, I would love to hear from you: what’s your style: Are you a writer because you (have to) write, or do you write (and force yourself to find what to write about) because you’re a writer (and that’s what writers do, isn’t it?)?

Cheers!


LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Sunday, February 5, 2012 12:04 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


Here I am, putting in my two cents... again.

I'm with you on this one, Rommel. Writer's block is a steaming pile of hooey. I've had this conversation with friends that whine about not writing something in such a long time because they can't figure out how to get around a block. (One of them will no longer speak to me because of said argument. Oh well, she's an awful writer anyway.) I conquered this little issue by sitting down frequently and just writing. I found that the more I wrote, the more ideas came to me begging to be released into the world for my many fans to read (i.e. Mom, Uncle, and Little Bro). There are moments where I want to write a story on something specific, so I have to do some research to see if its possible. Most of the time I have no problem with ideas.

My problem is that I've been working on this novel(s), and I haven't had time to work on any shorts. I don't really have any notes written down. I do have one written full length, but have yet to type it up. I have so much that needs love, and no time to show it.
Rommel Luna H
Posted: Sunday, February 5, 2012 8:21 PM
Joined: 1/20/2012
Posts: 12


Alberto: Whatever you're smoking, I think is not doing any favours to your brain.. go easy on it! (j/k).BUt I'm almost with you on the last idea you've so graciously poured in your reply, although I think that luck is a very big factor in becoming famous after all.
LeeAnna: Writing constantly is the best idea for any writer; if what you write is good, that is the seed for something that can grow and be wonderful; and if it's not, well, you also need fertilizer to cultivate your art, right?


Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 2:37 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


Honestly, if I get stuck I do dishes, it seems to knock the gears loose and I can eat on clean dishes to boot. I think writer's block comes to those who are unsure of their story's direction.
I write a beginning and an end before I do anything. Then I fill in the center.  I rarely get stuck so I end up eating a lot of take away because my dishes are stacked high.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 12:01 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


Of course you need fertilizer, Rommel. I'm lucky in that I've never been short of ideas. I've been voted most creative since kindergarten. (I wish I was kidding.) Mine problem is having time to cultivate all the ideas. Most of it will have to wait for me to finish my big project at the moment. Then I will have to push aside my ideas for the sequels so I can work on stuff to send out to journals and magazines. Ah, the work of a writer. Its a shame I'm so scatter brained.

Ah, the dishes. No inspiration for me there, so I'm glad they work for you, Sinnie. We all have our different systems. Glad to hear someone does something productive with their "writer's block."
Rommel Luna H
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 8:41 PM
Joined: 1/20/2012
Posts: 12


Sinnie: That makes perfect sense! Writer's block, the way you just described it, is the only kind that could exist. I guess we all have those moments of "pause" where we choose the best way to continue a sentence, or the best style to deliver the scene that we already have in our heads.
Maybe I've had that weird vision of writer's block as it has been popularized in movies and TV, where we see a character sitting in front of his/her computer and they try to write the first sentence in a blank page. For me, that makes no sense because: how can you be trying to write something that is not already visualized in your head? But the way you describe it makes more sense to me.
Don't you do a detailed draft before you start to write? I know some people don't like that approach, but I can't imagine writing a long piece (over 75,000 words) without one. For short stories I've never used a draft, but for my novels, my drafts are almost as big and detailed as a small novella.
LeeAnna: I know what you mean. Just make sure you write down those ideas with some CLEAR details before they vanish. It has happened to me and it feels like a much bigger deal than it probably was.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 11:24 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662


Rommel: I have notes to spare. Finding them is another matter. Heh.
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 12:13 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416


i never am at a lack for ideas. My brain churns them out all the time. I'm often at a lack for GOOD ideas....

Rommel Luna H
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 5:37 PM
Joined: 1/20/2012
Posts: 12


Alexander: Ideas are like children, they're all adorable until they grow up and, while some become doctors and lawyers, other ones end up in jail.

Brian Lowe
Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 12:20 AM
Joined: 1/31/2012
Posts: 16


Ideas are not a problem. Plots are a problem.

Brand me a heretic, but I've found the most reliable way for me to get past a block (and they're real) is to sit down with a pen and a blank sheet of paper and stare until a sentence writes itself. Then another one, and another. It may not resolve into a complete story, but I can usually get 300-500 words that way, even if five minutes before I would have sworn that I didn't have an idea in my head. At the very least at the end of the process I have a story fragment that I can revisit later.
Laura Dwyer
Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 9:54 AM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192


Me, I prefer to wait until my muse visits. But she's a fickle little bitch, so sometimes I go days without writing. Admittedly, it's often a time issue. Others, it's like Sinnie said - I can't quite figure out which avenue my characters should take, so stepping back is sometimes helpful in gaining perspective. But as for how the ideas happen, I don't force them. When I do that, I write LOTS of fertilizer. I guess some would argue that's still okay, but when time is precious, I like to make it productive. A lot of times I'll take notes on an idea, fleshing it out to see if it has merit, before I begin the first chapter. Then again, I'm still learning, so who knows if these methods really work for me.
Rob Emery
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 4:19 PM
Joined: 3/4/2014
Posts: 18


I'm looking at how long these comments have been posted and feel like a Johnny come lately on the subject. 

I define writers block as working on a story line and coming to a place where you have no idea of where to take the story from here or what happens next. If that is writers block then I get it sometimes.  The way I handle this problem is to switch to another story for a while and write till I get the juices flowing again.  When I return to the problem later I find the log jam is cleared and my story moves right along.  From time to time bits and pieces of ideas come to my mind.  Rather than lose these tidbits, I open a new file, give it a name, and enter the idea or a short outline of what the story should be about.  When the block comes on my primary project, I just switch over to one of these new ideas and begin fleshing it out.  Most times I have a half dozen or more projects going at once. 


Mimi Speike
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 5:10 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014


My problem is knowing where I want to go (generally) but not knowing how to get there. My solution is to read history of the period until I have an Aha! moment. And, aside from research, the reading of frequently screwball history is a pure joy. I'm now on Lily's Christian Astrology, written in the seventeenth century. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! A total riot!
Rob Emery
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 11:46 PM
Joined: 3/4/2014
Posts: 18


It is not often that I have to read history to find a string to catch onto.  I write mostly science fiction and that crazy stuff can go anywhere you want it to. However if I am writing time travel, and I do write a lot of time travel, and I'm dabbling around in the past then history is always my friend. That is unless I go back to the Paleolithic epoch where most everybody was a primitive version of the native american tribes that the Europeans found when they got here. that is why writing is so much fun. You can take mind trips to any where or any when and never leave your writing desk.

     The question concerning where my ideas come from should be addressed.  I actually dream some of them while I am sleeping. Other times it is something someone says to me that triggers my mind.  I once wrote an entire time travel story because my elder brother told me about a world fast draw competition he attended on the west coast.  When I finished the story I gave him a copy and told him he gave me the idea for the whole thing.  He did not even remember telling me about it, but liked the finished product.


TheresaReel
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:31 PM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


For me, it's not so much writer's block, as it is fear.  I have scads of ideas.  I can even make an outline as a scaffold for my story.  For some reason, I feel fear and I don't even know what it is I'm afraid of.  I should be over this by now, but I'm not.  I'll post a sign on my computer (F**K Fear) and get started and not be able to stop because everything keeps pouring out.  Yet, if I don't stay on it, fear will gain on me again and I'll feel paralyzed until I can work myself up to start again.  Then it's the same routine all over again.  Building up the courage to fight the fear; writing and having a GREAT time; then stopping and putting off writing again and feeling the fear come back again.  Am I crazy or does anyone else feel the same thing?
Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:37 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


@Theresa--Absolutely! That's why I actually think it is easier to write every day, because it takes such a huge amount of effort to come back to a project when you've spent time away from it. I think what makes it fearsome is that you don't have the story fresh in your memory, and anything I feel unclear about usually causes me at least a little anxiety--that feeling of knowing you need to deal with something, but not quite knowing what your next step should be. That is one of the reasons I have found a lot of business and self help books very inspiring as a writer--the recent Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin (about how habits work) and Getting Things Done by David Allen (about how to address your workflow/tasks so that they are more manageable). Both of these books really illuminated areas of my everyday life that were causing me barriers to getting any writing done, and almost all of them were psychological and had to do with lack of clarity when I sat down to write.

--edited by Lucy Silag - Book Country Director on 4/16/2015, 12:38 PM--


TheresaReel
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:42 PM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65


Thanks;  procrastination is general is something I must work on.  Just filed my taxes two days ago!
 

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