Recently I’ve taken to performing writing exercises first thing in the day on writing days to increase my storytelling capabilities and further hone my chosen craft. It’s quite interesting, coming from a person who is nearly obsessive about my growth as both writer and human, how incredibly self-aware I have become over the past decade or so. That’s not bragging, let me say straight off. It has been very hard and tiring work, with seemingly little reward in the short-term. Now, though, in the long-term, it has paid huge personal dividends. Ten years ago, I never imagined that I’d one day reach a point where I could “see” my processes clearly in my mind, or feel the changes that I’ve worked so long and diligently to see come to fruition.
So in performing these writing exercies — basic freewriting from a prompt — I can feel, as I write, the story spooling in my head and mind’s eye. For instance, today’s prompt was: The freckled boy heard the voice again… This sparked an entire story to spool in my mind, beginning to end. Previously, I wrote by the seat of my pants, not really know where I was headed. Now I’ve written more than the million words recommended by veteran writers, and feel deeply connected to my creative mind. I can feel the connections forming, the words forming, the story spreading out before me like a cinematic vista. As my thoughts automatically turn toward darker fiction, today’s prompt was no different, and the story that has begun already has the distinct feel of a strong story.
Readers wonder where writers get their ideas. Stephen King says on his website:
I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.
Perhaps this process benefits from the writer not trying too hard to steer the story in a specific direction, but rather allowing it to flow via the synapses and neurons of their writer brains. The “What if?” method is one that I fully subscribe to. We see mundane things take place every day, but the writer sees them and thinks, What if? Several viable writing projects have stemmed from this method.
I am currently striving to devote more time to writing full time rather than squeezing it in where and when I can. This stop and start method has been going on for far too long for my comfort. Recently I applied for a unique type of writer-in-residence program that will potentially allow me to eliminate rent payments, but the final decision will not be made until the first couple weeks of September, 2014. And so, in the meantime, I continue to find ways to carve out enough of a niche in which to fit in a week’s worth of writing. 🙂