I've wanted to ask this question for a while, since I tried to start a story on demand, and had a blank page for more than a week.
I can brainstorm, research, outline, plan, format, snowflake, map out settings, define characters, etc, etc, etc, and still not write. To be honest, those things are about as useful as a spell check before I've actually started writing on a story.
So, the question is; What motivates you to start writing? What helps you get those first few words on the page that sometimes start a 10,000+ word flood that won't stop? What gets your creativity going?
While you're thinking of your answer (or if you know it, post it and come back), I will tell you what I discovered in my case. There are two main things for me:
1--A sentence, or sometimes naming a character and setting (as in the "Evil Stories" thread in the collaborative stories). I recently wrote a whole story spinning off of a sentence I found in Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Not every sentence, of course, but if I can find, or come up with a sufficiently interesting sentence or phrase, I'm on my way.
2--An interesting picture, drawing or painting can give me a starting point for a story. I can trace the origin of one of my stories to art I found at the gallery section here. (Ok, 1 and 1/2, --WIP) There is a site called "Elfwood" which has a large gallery, BTW.
So, how about you?
September 19th, 2005, 07:09 AM
For me it really is the first sentence. Generally, I have a strong idea on how I want the story to start, but I can't even start that until I know what the first sentence can be. I'll rewrite that first line 20 times, but I can't really begin the rest until its on the screen.
September 19th, 2005, 07:16 AM
I have a notoriously difficult time actually getting down to writing. I think my main problem is that although I enjoy writing, I also enjoy a load of other things that seem to take far less effort and offer far more immediate rewards...online gaming is just one...
What gets me to write is usually a moment of inspiration and motivation. These can happen for a variety of reasons, but quite often as the result of watching a good film or reading a decent book, or even as a result from an idea of my own. They just don't happen often enough!
Discipline is one of the most important attributes for a writer, right up there with writing ability and imagination. Tolkien would never have even finished the first draft of LOTR if he lacked the tremendous discipline that he did have.
As someone once said, the art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the chair. ;)
September 19th, 2005, 10:32 AM
I always seem to have eureka moments, some story beginning jumps fully formed (I kid you not) and I write it down, whether it gets any further than a beginning is another question. Sometimes I just have beginnings that flesh themselves out and retain my interest long enough to be worth carrying on.
September 19th, 2005, 11:39 AM
I write when I have free time, but since I am a high school senior that is not too often.
September 19th, 2005, 06:07 PM
I have to agree - TIME is my muse. I have too many ideas floating around in my brain and nowhere near enough time to get even a fraction of them down on paper.
Oddly, it seems that the more crunched I am for time, the more the need to write swells inside me. When I ever have a full day to sit and start - that's when I swagger and procrastinate. (Maybe it's because I need some time to unwind from everything else in life before I can focus on my writing.)
September 19th, 2005, 09:13 PM
I don't decide to write or try to write. I have to write. Story ideas come to me, characters and settings, and I have to write about them. I'll just start anywhere with the main character, or who I think is the main character, and let him or her decide where to go. My writing is very character driven.
September 19th, 2005, 10:36 PM
What gets me to write?
I think my story ideas always start with a character I've met, either in a movie, or a dream, or out in the world somewhere. When someone gives me a flash of inspiration, I immediately want to sit down, write it out, and get to know them.
That's my favorite way to start. I don't often plan things out, I learn about my characters as I go, discovering their motivations and inner conflict as they work their way through the story. Once I'm started, I guess I'm eager to keep writing because I need to find out what happens.
September 20th, 2005, 03:43 PM
In no particular order: Characters, Music and Dreams.
I tend to walk a lot and I have generally got my discman with me. As I walk my mind wanders with the music and my mental wanderings generally revolve around 'what if?' moments.
However, in recent years I have dreamt full-fledged characters, even whole scenarios. Then I get up and just write. :)
September 21st, 2005, 12:28 AM
I get those Eureka moments where just for the longest split second it all comes together.
Sometimes it's something someone says. Sometimes it's something I see or read about. Or one of those characters who tells me their life story while I'm trying to sleep.
And sometimes it's a jolt from a half-charged cattleprod. I don't suggest the cattleprod.