This is from April 2011. I had been on a writing hiatus here for some reason. I noticed a big slowdown in posting here as well. I have learned a lot since I wrote this, and realize that relying on the muse is not something a professional writer can afford. When things aren’t sparking and you have a deadline you still have to write. There is where understanding how the craft of writing comes into play. The are no hard fast rules for writing, but understanding structure and story design are a must.
Writing regularly does spark ideas. Think of it as a lubricant. It does create a more fruitful mind for creativity.
Not writing has been a weird place for me. I think about the act of writing during most of my free time now, but my muse has been strangely silent. I think about the fact that I am close to finishing and know I have a few scenes left to put together, but there is no spark. This leads me to believe that writing, the actual act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard actually sparks the muse and keeps the creative juices flowing. The more you write the more these creative pathways open up and tap into that right side of the brain and free the little fireflies of imagination.
I have often heard people ask writers where they get their ideas. I’ve had people ask me that very question, but from everything I’ve read or every time I talk to other writers they all say the same thing, ideas are the easy part. Writing seems to snap into place a cable in your mind that lets the creative side of your brain be heard over all the stuff the left side of the brain is dealing with on a daily basis, trying to get you through your work day. (unless you are an artist of some sort of course).
The answer to where do the ideas come from is, they come from the writer’s brain. It’s almost like a muscle though, it needs to be exercised. You need to read…a lot! You need to actually write, not just think about writing or talk about writing. You need to actually do it! World building is fun and is a nice creative outlet, but don’t stop there. Create some characters and give them a problem to solve and write some scenes. You will be surprised what your mind will come up with if you give it a chance. The more you do this the more other ideas will pop into your head, stuff you never dreamed of. Then you get to connect the dots or rearrange the puzzle pieces to make a story outline. It’s really that easy to get started.
Good luck with your writing!
This originally posted Jan 28, 2011. I still believe it. Words are magic. They allow the writer to talk to the reader telepathically, from anywhere in time to whenever they pick up the book. And names create an image, whether it might be the name of a business or a new gadget or a person you just met. It shapes your perception, maybe a little and maybe a lot.
I have a question for you writer’s and aspiring writers out there…do names matter?
I know there are many approaches to actually writing a novel from outlining to discovery, and every iteration between those poles. NaNoWriMo taught me to write every day, and I’ve read over and over again that when you write you should just keep going, letting it flow out the right side of your brain and fix it later in the editing phase. But my brain is already full and if I learn something new I have to forget something to make room for it, and I have no idea what that lost tidbit is going to be. It might be the great idea I had for the edit that I didn’t take the time to fix earlier.
I’m one of those people that have to fix it on the spot, if I can. I can get hung up on a scene if I’ve introduced a new character that I wasn’t planning on, and I don’t have his/her name. So much is wrapped up in a name; their whole essence is in that name. I’ve heard the horror stories of editors or publishers demanding a name change! Don’t they understand what you have invested in that name!?! You might have spent hours or even days trying to find just the perfect name. And it’s not just characters, it’s ships and planets and weapons and continents and lakes. You get the idea. This is world building, but to me it’s more than that, it’s world CRAFTING. I’ve heard people say that names don’t matter…WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!?! We world builders know different! We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into those names, they have power!
Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but I do think it matters. Names set a tone and paint a word picture when they are done well. If I name my main character Rupert or Sterling, it creates an image in your head. Doesn’t it? What about Mad Dog or Killer or Whysk?
Names anchor the ambiance of your setting, whether it’s grim and dark or whimsical and magical. They evoke image and imagination. They have soul or lack soul. Names alone won’t make your story good, but I do think they can help both the writer to imagine and the reader to get absorbed. I would love to hear your opinions on this, unless you disagree with me you cretin!
I haven’t updated this text for quite a while. It was well overdue for an overhaul. If you are new to novel writing, or think you might want to try, this may help.
Rules for Writing for the Novice Novelist
Good luck in your writing!