When I first started writing I thought that my writing came from some secret creative source inside me and my job was to sit down and let it start dictating. But it's a common belief, so common, in fact, that the academic community refers to the onset of creative writing projects as pre-writing and discovery. If, by discovery, they mean research, well, I'm all for that, but that's not usually what they mean. They're referring to the secret (mystical, magical, illusive) creative source I'm talking about -- the inner dictator.
Reconsidering now, I have to say that perhaps I didn't believe in this secret source with full conviction, especially on those days when it didn't dictate. Plus, dictate has many definitions. How easily that inner dictator became a DICTATOR, as in that never satisfied critic who tells you you're doing it wrong, you'll never do it right.
Unfortunately, that critic is close to being correct, especially when writers wait for it to tell them what to do.
So how DO we write? What is the source? You are, and your job is to CREATE NOT WAIT. You do that by actively THINKING about your writing. Asking questions. How do things -- books, buildings, inventions, decorations, landscaping, etc. -- come into being? By encountering a void and asking what could fill it. Questions are the key . I want to write a story. Who will be in it? What will they need? How will they go about getting it? Who will stand in the way? When writers sit down with a tablet or in front of a blank computer screen and begin asking and answering the questions the story starts to take form. CREATING begins.
The Hero's Journey is a great tool for this because it gives you an outer form into which to create. Which is what all structure does. Putting up a frame creates a void and questions immediately come up. How do I . . . ? What goes there . . . ? Who will be to blame . . . ? Who will save the day . . . ?
So make a list of questions about your story that need answers. Because here's the truth about that secret creative source --- it does exist, but it never shows up until the question is asked. Why? Because like they told you in basic physics, a void must always be filled and a void is what questions create.
A useless question never existed. So generate some conversations about your story. If you can put together a brainstorming group, jump at the chance. Conversation around your story helps generate questions. And always, always, pay attention to the way you view your own life and asks questions about your own reactions. Fiction is always about human nature and human nature always begins at home.
Ciao, and don't forget to write today,