How do we begin to write?

Published July 9, 2012 by ltwilton

There are so many of us who would be so called “aspiring writers”. Now, this morning I read a blog post by a writer named Chuck who expressed in great detail his annoyance with this term and with some of the whinges these “aspiring writers” have been known to make. So, I made a mental note – I was not going to use the term “aspiring writer” any more. Now I am a writer. I am just an aspiring paid writer.

Apparently there are people who write, and there are people who want to write but don’t have the time, can’t, won’t etc. I’m definitely going to slot myself into the category that writes.

I’ve also read that the world and its mother want to write. Everyone wants to be a writer apparently. Hey, that’s cool enough, but it does mean there is a lot of competition out there. Well, we knew that anyway but I think the difference is that some are more determined than others.

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, lately and he is a good example of a writer with perserverance. Keep on going, despite the rejections. He used to pin them to a nail on the wall above his bed until the nail couldn’t hold the rejection slips any longer. The guy wanted to write and he wasn’t going to stop for anyone. So, no excuses anyone. If you want to be a writer you can’t give up. No whingeing, no excuses, no procrastination. In the words of Nike, “just do it!”

So, this brings me back to the question: where do we begin? I’ve heard of people who have to sit and make ideas happen and those who have ideas just “happen” to them. I happen to be one of the latter. I can be walking down the road with the pram and the dog and some idea will just pop into my head. I’ll think to myself yea, that works, and then this could happen….. Trouble is, I don’t have the opportunity to write them down instantly but so far this isn’t causing much of a problem. One problem which is causing me some difficulty, however, is that at any given time I can have up to 5 different book/short story ideas swimming around my head simultaneously. Sometimes they overlap and that can be a bit confusing. It’s no real hardship though. I think it would be a lot worse if I had no ideas at all.

I decided to take a writing course to give some structure and technique to my story ideas and I’ll write about how that’s going as I go along.

Just a question then for all you writers out there: How do you begin your process?

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4 comments on “How do we begin to write?

  • Good question in a good blog! I would say that I begin, usually, by coming across a sentence or a vibe that I really dig. For example, sometimes a single descriptor will occur to me while I’m out walking, I’ll write it down, and go back later and try to form a story around it. My other method is to take a vibe or a color — say, Scary Pink — and from there I’ll try to create a story that makes me think of/feel/smell/see/taste this color Scary Pink (I usually end up channeling favorite directors for this method such as David Lynch or Nicolas Winding Refn). I also make certain to never promise myself that this story or idea will be the be-all-end-all, my novel, my next publication — I find that trying to strap myself down that way tends to keep me from opening up other possibilities for all the little shorts I end up with; oftentimes, once the collection gets large enough, I’ll end up piecing them together into a brand new story altogether

    • Yes, I like that. Kind of like little seeds that grow into something else. I think you’re right though about the necessity to avoid getting stuck on an idea as the be-all-end-all. It’s easy for me to get stuck on an idea, especially if I’m convinced that it’s unbelievably awesome but I think the key is to let go when you need to. I love the idea of building a whole story around a sentence or vibe though. I haven’t actually tried it that way before but I’m making a mental note now to do that soon.

  • New ideas usually come when I’m supposed to be doing something else. Especially if it’s something that has a deadline. So I take 15 minutes, sketch an outline, and put it in the ideas folder. That folder is fat enough now that I don’t think I’ll be out of ideas until halfway through the next life….

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