Monday, 1 April 2013

An Awesome Idea



For this year’s A to Z Challenge I will be doing a series of hints and tips on how to get from the start to the end of the writing process. I will be keeping these posts relatively short (for me). And a big thank you to Arlee Bird for creating the A to Z Challenge. Cheers, Lee!

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Some people can sit down with a blank page and start writing. Come to think of it, we can all do that. But some people actually like what they end up with. And by some people I mean not me.

What most of us need before we start writing is an idea. A good one.
 
I don’t mean a complete story or vision for what you plan to write, I’m talking about an initial spark to get you going. It is possible to start without that, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

It could be an image, a photo, a line of dialogue, a scene, an object. Whatever it is that first excites your imagination into story mode, the  usual advice is to stick it on the wall above where you write, make it the wallpaper on your computer desktop, pin it somewhere you can see it all the time.

I find it more useful not to do that.

Take the thing (if it’s an idea or a line of dialogue, write it down or make a Word document) and put it away. In a drawer, in a folder. Obviously put it somewhere you won’t forget. Label it clearly. Then don’t refer to it again until at least after the first draft.

The longer you can manage the better.

At some point in the writing process you will get lost. Your enthusiasm will desert you and you’ll start to imagine that what you’re writing is a big pile of poo.

That’s when to get out your inspiration and remind yourself what started you down this road.

Because familiarity makes things lose their lustre. Depriving yourself of the thing that inspired you in the first place helps it keep its magic. It won’t necessarily help you solve any problems or come up with great new ideas, but it will, hopefully, respark your enthusiasm for the project.


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Check out my latest stories for free on Wattpad (I'm experimenting with this site).

62 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a smart idea!

Gregg Metcalf said...

Sometimes that one good idea is so elusive!

mooderino said...

@Alex - If I could turn it into an app I'd make millions. Millions!

@Gregg - If you find one, keep hold of it.

Al Diaz said...

For me a picture does the trick with my current wip. Every time I look at it, I feel like I have to keep writing and get it done.

Susan Roebuck said...

Great theme for the A-Z - I'll be following along. I know what you mean about familiarity and then, of course, there're the huge self-doubts: are my characters likeable, realistic. What if a reader throws the story down and says, "so what?" *sigh* did anyone say writing was easy?

Kate Larkindale said...

This is a great idea! Although I often don't know exactly what sparks an idea for me, but as I write, I tend to find pictures and quotes and music that feel right for the story and magpie them away.

mooderino said...

@Al Diaz - I think it varies from person to person and project to project, but if you have a touchstone it really helps.

@Susan - self-doubt is unavoidable, but not lethal (usually).

@Kate - Magpie, squirrel, whichever animal you want (not weasel or badger though).

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

Great tip moody.

mooderino said...

@Michael - cheers.

Bill Somogyi said...

I like this it works in other walks of life too, not just writing.

Images by Bil

Ice Girl said...

Never thought of that. Interesting idea!

Allyson Lindt said...

"And by some people I mean not me." lol

I love this idea. I tend to surround myself with my inspiration, but that just means it becomes background noise the further in the process I get. I'm going to try it your way next time.

____

Find me:
Blog: http://allysonlindt.com
email: Allyson.Lindt@gmail.com
Twitter: @AllysonLindt

Nancy Thompson said...

I worry, once I'm done with my current awesome idea, I'll never come up with another.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Good post, and I better start thinking of another awesome idea.

mooderino said...

@Bil - I think so too.

@Ice - worth considering.

@Allyson - I think it just might offer a little more punch if it isn't in plain view all the time.

Ghadeer said...

I love that you picked this theme. Can't wait for all the other tips. I always find what you say about writing useful.

mooderino said...

@Nancy - I think you'll do okay.

@Cathrina - I usually have mine when I'm supposed to be listening to somebody in my family.

mooderino said...

@Ghadeer - thank you very much.

Mel Chesley said...

Great advice! I usually let the idea swim around in the murk of my brain and ferment for awhile before putting it to paper. My theme for the challenge this month is fantasy world building from A-Z, should be fun!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That's a different way than I usually do it but it sounds interesting.

Elise Fallson said...

This was a short post, for you, and good advice (as always). I never did like pinning stuff to my walls anyway. (;

Botanist said...

That sounds a lot like advice we got when emigrating: write out "The List" - all the reasons you're moving and what you hope to find, then when things get tough you can pull out The List and remind yourself what the adventure was all about. It never occurred to me that you could do the same with writing. Nice!

mooderino said...

@Mel - can't let them stay in the murk too long, they get all wrinkled.

@Susan/Kelley - of course if you have a system that works for you, don't fix what ain't broke.

@Elise - and blutak does terrible things to paintwork.

@Botanist - Canadians! Always stealing my ideas.

elizabethwatgibson said...

Yup, that is the way to start with a good idea.

mooderino said...

@Elizabeth - got to start somewhere.

Leanne Dyck said...

This is really good advice. Actually, I used it, recently--without being fully aware of what I was doing : ) My spark were two songs. Thankfully they were two of my favourite songs. I hummed and sang them each time my interest lagged or when I needed inspiration.

Maria said...

I've done it both ways, with an inkling of an idea, and a loose plan, but also without any plan...NaNoWriMo! At very short notice.

Look forward to reading more soon.

mshatch said...

I love this idea!

LD Masterson said...

I like your theme. Good hints and tips are always welcome.

Christine Rains said...

I usually start with a general concept or a character. Then the story just blooms from there. :)

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I agree. If you can get that "spark" down in some fashion, then when the initial flame starts to flicker, you stand a chance of re-ignighting the first passion that drove you start the story. Great idea.

Geoff_Livingston said...

Good luck! I hope the blank page takes you somewhere. Perhaps next year I'll take the A to Z blogging challenge.

Daisy Carter said...

I love the idea of putting away the spark for as long as possible. It's something I wish I'd done on a project that's lost its shine for me at the moment.

Bookmarking so I can come back all month -sounds like a great series!

Claire Hennessy said...

I write about my mad life so no need to come up a good idea, thank goodness. Nice to meet you on the A-Z.

Rhondi St. Onge Peacock said...

WOW... My index finger is tired just from scrolling down to leave my comment. Nice to meet you on A-Z? Did I? Guess we'll know tomorrow at the letter B!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I think everyone goes through dry spells. Great pick-me-ups!

Julie

Yolanda Renee said...

Yes, I agree, an awesome idea!

Lots of times I'll go to sleep with a hint of an idea and wake up ready to write, sometimes sleep won't come because the idea was just waiting for the quiet to make its appearance, and I'm back up and on the computer.

Nice to meet you via A to Z!

Fairview said...

Love the tips.

LuAnn Braley said...

Storing the spark for when motivation lags? Excellent idea! Following from the A to Z Challenge.

Nicole Pyles said...

Hey...can you bottle up inspiration and sell it on Amazon? I'd pay millions. :) Great idea for an A to Z theme!

Nicole said...

Yeah, there is value in storing something away and not taking it out until we need it most when a little inspiration goes a long way.

-Nicole
2013 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
www.madlabpost.com

Ashley Mott said...

That is a very good idea....to not let yourself become so accustomed to your inspiration that it becomes ho-hum and loses its ability to inspire. I often get lost when I'm writing something and start meandering on interesting sidetopics. When I was done with a draft, I could refer back to the item and focus on it to edit my copy in places where I drifted.

sujataravi6 said...

Well said! Looking forward to reading the rest of your chellenge! :)

Lynda R Young said...

That's a great idea. Gotta hate it when inspiration slips away...

mooderino said...

@Leanee - That was lucky. It would have been a nightmare if your inspiration was a song you didn't like.

@Maria - Not so much about the plan as the spark.

@mshatch - thanks.

@LD - Not sure they'll all be good, but they'll certainly be alphabetical.

@Christine - it's usually the second or third draft where I need a little help staying focused.

mooderino said...

@C. Lee - Not always necessary, but useful.

@Geoff - Thank you, and I hope you do.

@Daisy - Cheers. I'll be here.

@Claire - A crazy life is its own reward, I guess.

@Rhondi - My index finger is a little worn out too.

mooderino said...

@Empty - I tend to have two moments of serious doubt in every project. Helps to have a reminder.

@Yolanda - Nice to meet you too.

@Fairview - Thanks.

@LuAnn - Yes, lag sparking.

@Nicole - I wish...

@Ashley - Worth trying, I think.

mooderino said...

@Nicole - I have far too little inspiration to waste so best to make the most of it.

@Sujataravi - hope it doesn't disappoint.

@Lynda - for some people I guess inspiration remains bright like a beacon, but I always find it disappears when I most need it. Good to have a snippet tucked away for then.

Denise Covey said...

I've also heard that you shouldn't share your idea with anyone or it can lose its magic.

mooderino said...

@Denise - certainly not before it's ready.

Misha Gericke said...

That's some great advice! I never thought about it like that, but I can definitely see the value in keeping the original idea separate. :-)

mooderino said...

@Misha - cheers.

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Mood, I liked that tip. I, personally, like a visual and sometimes draw what sparked me. Then I have it in color to spur me on.

The Write Soil

Franny Stevenson said...

This is a nice idea! It’s always great receiving tips from people sharing your passion!

mooderino said...

@Dawn - my only trouble with that would be going back to my drawing and trying to figure out what it was supposed to be.#

@Franny - passionate tips is what I'm all about.

Heather said...

A great tip for when you find yourself questioning why you started the story in the first place. I'm looking forward to the rest of your Challenge posts.

Tammy Theriault said...

Yes! Images can be oh so inspiring!

Kern Windwraith said...

What a good idea. There was a post a while ago on Writers Unboxed that talked about finding the "third rail" of a story--the essence of the story--and making sure that everything else stays connected to and sparks off that rail. Having an image or line of dialogue or object that encapsulates that essence would be a terrific way of keeping the inspiration alive for the duration.

Great theme, by the way. I'll definitely be back for more tips.

mooderino said...

@Heather: I ask myself that question a lot.

@Tammy: worth a thousand words, apparently.

@Kern: More tips on the way!

Trisha F said...

I've done the "sit down and write" thing - with my first NaNoWriMo actually. Usually, though, I at least have a spark of an idea to start with.

Tammy Theriault said...

Yes! Images can be oh so inspiring!

Toni McKilligan said...

Great theme for the Challenge! I will be keeping tabs on your posts.

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