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View Full Version : Do you have a magic wand? Iíd like to write (fiction) but canít think of WHAT to write.



The Backward OX
02-03-2012, 04:02 AM
Itís not as if I canít write Ė in the past Iíve done plenty of fiction writing - itís just that nowadays my mind is lacking in ideas.

In that respect - the obtaining of ideas - I observe stuff happening in the outside world - I read books and newspapers, I observe and talk to other people, I watch TV, but none of it stimulates my creative thinking; it all just goes in one ear and out the other, so to speak.

I guess, to put you more fully in the picture, I should mention that these days my mind is just a tad occupied with my age-related health and fitness. But I figure, if a desire to write exists, it should overcome hiccups like that.

So where do I go from here?

Drachen Jager
02-03-2012, 04:14 AM
Don't watch TV, don't read newspapers, don't read books. ESPECIALLY avoid smartphones, tweeting, facebook, all that. A lot of research is going into this area recently and it all seems to indicate that the more you swamp your mind with outside stimuli the less creative your thinking will be.

If you want to be creative, the best way is to shut all those outside influences away. Go isolate yourself from everything for a good long session every day. Go on a long walk, or sit on a park bench. Even just sitting on the couch with a coffee in hand and nothing to distract you can be very helpful.

Good ideas will come from within your head, not the pages of a newspaper. It's good to stay informed, but you also need to make sure you have creative mind-space to turn that information into a great story.

Anyhow, that's my two cents.

jaksen
02-03-2012, 04:24 AM
I so agree, Drachen. My best ideas come to me when I'm driving, and are usually fleeting, small things. When I sit down to write about them, then they emerge full-fledged like angry, ugly ducklings - which I turn into swans. I hope.

Daydreaming is often the breeding ground of ideas - umm, just don't daydream too much when you drive or operate heavy machinery.

MJNL
02-03-2012, 04:36 AM
I should mention that these days my mind is just a tad occupied with my age-related health and fitness.


Have you tried writing about that?

quicklime
02-03-2012, 04:48 AM
Don't watch TV, don't read newspapers, don't read books. ESPECIALLY avoid smartphones, tweeting, facebook, all that. A lot of research is going into this area recently and it all seems to indicate that the more you swamp your mind with outside stimuli the less creative your thinking will be.

.


agreeing with drachen, I can say when I used to listen to rock in my car on the way to work, I had WAY less ideas. When i listened to NPR, I had more, and I had an absolute shit-ton more, better ideas when I turned the idiot-box off completely.


For me, at home is family time and stuff. But I have a 30-minute commute to and from work, and if you turn your radio off, it gets CRAZY-LOUD (so loud I have to type in caps) in my head. Try it for a single week. Seriously. Really Really Really.

Cyia
02-03-2012, 04:59 AM
You already have an idea - a magic wand that can write a best-seller. You can jump off that to write a magical-realism/literary piece, fantasy (adult or YA), or horror.

mhaynes
02-03-2012, 07:00 AM
agreeing with drachen, I can say when I used to listen to rock in my car on the way to work, I had WAY less ideas. When i listened to NPR, I had more, and I had an absolute shit-ton more, better ideas when I turned the idiot-box off completely.


For me, at home is family time and stuff. But I have a 30-minute commute to and from work, and if you turn your radio off, it gets CRAZY-LOUD (so loud I have to type in caps) in my head. Try it for a single week. Seriously. Really Really Really.

This has been true for me, as well. Well, OK, maybe not the thing about it getting CRAZY-LOUD in my head... But, certainly, the part about having ideas come to me while the "only" stimuli I'm dealing with are driving-related ones.

PulpDogg
02-03-2012, 01:04 PM
Yes ... the commute to work is a good place to get ideas (even with all the loud, annoying people around me). Long walks also work.

Literateparakeet
02-03-2012, 01:13 PM
these days my mind is just a tad occupied with my age-related health and fitness.

My mind is more than a tad occupied with a certain topic (not the same as yours) I find it leaks into everything I write. I'm ok with that.

As someone else said, use what your mind is already gnawing on.


. . .and if you turn your radio off, it gets CRAZY-LOUD

I love this (and the other posts that suggested similiar). When I was in the shower today, an idea came to me that I was so pleased with, I laughed out loud. It's not a funny idea, I was just very pleased with it. (I'm getting off AW right now to work on it.)

The thing is this great idea came to me in the shower...where it was CRAZY-LOUD.

So, yeah, Quick has a great idea there. I have a 30 min commute I need to put to better use too!

pdblake
02-03-2012, 01:59 PM
I agree with Drachen too. My best ideas come in moments of boredom, daydreaming, or just plain not thinking about anything inparticular.

The Backward OX
02-03-2012, 02:37 PM
Have you tried writing about that?
The thought has occurred to me.


As someone else said, use what your mind is already gnawing on.

Due to one of natureís stranger genetic mutations, I was born without ďnormalĒ social awareness. Amongst other things, once I reached puberty I measured all women only in terms of their sexuality. As a result, I perceived all the male-female relationships in my life - up until the time when I finally began to realise I was past it Ė in terms only of sex. I could literally write a book about it all. But would anyone want to read it?

Thump
02-03-2012, 02:47 PM
I'd find that fascinating, actually.

I'm very interested in the experiences of people who are not in the "normal" range of human perception etc. It's really enlightening.

poetinahat
02-03-2012, 02:59 PM
The unawareness of social nuance and uncertainty about one's own place in any grand scheme sounds a bit parallel to The Stranger by Albert Camus, actually. So you might be onto something there.

bearilou
02-03-2012, 05:25 PM
agreeing with drachen, I can say when I used to listen to rock in my car on the way to work, I had WAY less ideas. When i listened to NPR, I had more, and I had an absolute shit-ton more, better ideas when I turned the idiot-box off completely.

I have friends and family I visit that's an 8-hour drive away. I've been known to do the entire drive with no radio, no music. Just me and my brain.

When I'm climbing out of the car at the other end, I have a notebook page filled with jumpy writing-scratch from trying to get fast ideas down while keeping my eyes on the road.

On the homefront, I rarely watch television. I like movies because I can pick and choose when I put them on to watch and if I'm hit with an idea out of the blue while in the middle of the movie? I can hit pause/stop and go work on it for a while, picking up the movie later (if I'm so inclined).

Phaeal
02-03-2012, 07:02 PM
Due to one of natureís stranger genetic mutations, I was born without ďnormalĒ social awareness. Amongst other things, once I reached puberty I measured all women only in terms of their sexuality. As a result, I perceived all the male-female relationships in my life - up until the time when I finally began to realise I was past it Ė in terms only of sex. I could literally write a book about it all. But would anyone want to read it?

And this would make you an abnormal male how?

[pre-emptive ducking]

Write about that.

Ctairo
02-03-2012, 07:27 PM
The thought has occurred to me.

Due to one of natureís stranger genetic mutations, I was born without ďnormalĒ social awareness. Amongst other things, once I reached puberty I measured all women only in terms of their sexuality. As a result, I perceived all the male-female relationships in my life - up until the time when I finally began to realise I was past it Ė in terms only of sex. I could literally write a book about it all. But would anyone want to read it?
I think the better question is who wouldn't want to read it? But seriously, readers will take to almost anything done well.

Have you started yet? Not that I'm in a hurry or anything.

Susan Littlefield
02-03-2012, 07:41 PM
Don't watch TV, don't read newspapers, don't read books. ESPECIALLY avoid smartphones, tweeting, facebook, all that. A lot of research is going into this area recently and it all seems to indicate that the more you swamp your mind with outside stimuli the less creative your thinking will be.

Darn it, am I the only one to disagree with the bold part above? When you want to write, you read as much as possible of anything you can get your hands on. Reading is not a distraction, but essential to writing. I do agree with avoiding the other stuff, though. :)


If you want to be creative, the best way is to shut all those outside influences away. Go isolate yourself from everything for a good long session every day. Go on a long walk, or sit on a park bench. Even just sitting on the couch with a coffee in hand and nothing to distract you can be very helpful.

So true. I do some of my best thinking on stories while running, or walking, or just sitting and staring into space. On the other hand, I can write full force while the TV is on.


Good ideas will come from within your head, not the pages of a newspaper. It's good to stay informed, but you also need to make sure you have creative mind-space to turn that information into a great story.

Anyhow, that's my two cents.

Where ideas come from depends upon the person. Mine have come from many different venues, including newspapers, talking, observing, watching news shows, and my own life experience. It really does depend.

I think as to what to write, you just sit down and start writing, even if it comes out making no sense. It will come together. :)

Williebee
02-03-2012, 07:47 PM
one ear and out the other, so to speak.

I guess, to put you more fully in the picture, I should mention that these days my mind is just a tad occupied with my age-related health and fitness. But I figure, if a desire to write exists, it should overcome hiccups like that.

So where do I go from here?

Write what you know? Create "Jerry, middle aged everyman facing his mortality." After all, there have been a number of successful takes on the theme. There will be many more, yeah? Because it resonates.


Good Luck!

Dr.Gonzo
02-03-2012, 07:48 PM
Darn it, am I the only one to disagree with the bold part above?

Nope. If someone isn't having ideas, I wouldn't say no to any avenues. Open more places for the ideas to come from. Leave all others open.

quicklime
02-03-2012, 07:53 PM
Darn it, am I the only one to disagree with the bold part above? When you want to write, you read as much as possible of anything you can get your hands on. Reading is not a distraction, but essential to writing. I do agree with avoiding the other stuff, though. :)



:)


I agree with you. Don't piss away your writing time reading, but I think a fair sub-stream of stimulation is good. The problem is we're becoming an ADHD world; my kids flip if we don't turn their DVD player in the van on when we drive to madison (20 min ride), they have televisions in the bathroom in luxury hotels, instead of a single tv or two most places have 1 in every living room or family room and 1 in each bedroom, etc.....somewhere, SOMEWHERE you need some quiet. I get it on my drive, but turning that radio off is an act of will.

You need to find a time where you shut the outside shit off. But I do agree reading is a good thing, and there should be other times you're letting stuff pass over you as well. We just don't usually have an issue with accessing stimulation, its walking away from it that is an issue.

mhaynes
02-03-2012, 07:58 PM
Darn it, am I the only one to disagree with the bold part above?

No, I just missed it the first time through. I agree with your disagreement -- reading regularly is essential for most writers.


When I'm climbing out of the car at the other end, I have a notebook page filled with jumpy writing-scratch from trying to get fast ideas down while keeping my eyes on the road.

A little battery-operated pocket voice recorder only costs about $20 and might be easier/safer. Lots of phones these days come with similar apps, but you have to navigate menus, etc.

Drachen Jager
02-03-2012, 08:34 PM
Darn it, am I the only one to disagree with the bold part above? When you want to write, you read as much as possible of anything you can get your hands on. Reading is not a distraction, but essential to writing. I do agree with avoiding the other stuff, though. :)

Oh I think you should read, to stay informed. But you shouldn't read to be creative. Your brain needs down-time to be creative, the point was you need to make that mental space for yourself on a daily basis without distractions, not that you eschew all distractions all the time.

Drachen Jager
02-03-2012, 10:07 PM
Here's a podcast link for the radio program where I heard some of this stuff, since people were asking. I highly recommend the whole Spark series actually, and if you're unfamiliar with the CBC there are excellent podcasts of author and publishing related shows as well, The Next Chapter, Writers and Company and I think one other, but I can't remember the name.

Well worth the time, and if you like to hear some funny stories, check out the Vynl Cafe.

http://www.cbc.ca/spark/2011/10/spark-160-october-30-november-2-2011/

Main CBC podcast page is here:

http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/

Of course, here I am pushing radio shows on a thread which has become dedicated to de-cluttering your mind of too much excess chatter. :)

Charlie Horse
02-03-2012, 11:15 PM
You cannot be a writer without being a reader. Period.

As far as what to write about? What are you interested in? Politics? Write a political thriller. Music? Write about musicians trying to make a living. Food? Write about people working in a restaurant. I could do this all day. There's no shortage of interesting platforms to jump off of. Just do it.

Tirjasdyn
02-04-2012, 01:00 AM
You cannot be a writer without being a reader. Period.

This.

If you shut yourself off from the world be prepared for when someone tells you it is simiular to something just published. And has trope issuses. Happens everytime we have some who wants to remain "pure" wander through our critque group.

As for what to write, relationship issues and triumph stories are popular. Maybe write some nonfiction untill you get an idea. Mine all come from dreams. I second that daydream time durring the commute. Also reseach always gives me ideas.

virtue_summer
02-04-2012, 01:21 AM
I agree that writers should read, but I also agree with Drachen's original point though, which seemed to be

If you want to be creative, the best way is to shut all those outside influences away. Go isolate yourself from everything for a good long session every day. Go on a long walk, or sit on a park bench. Even just sitting on the couch with a coffee in hand and nothing to distract you can be very helpful.

Good ideas will come from within your head, not the pages of a newspaper. It's good to stay informed, but you also need to make sure you have creative mind-space to turn that information into a great story.

A lot of successful writers do this. Stephen King reads a lot, obviously, but he's also known for taking long walks. The problem is that people can get so plugged into different entertainment sources in our modern world that it gets harder to take a moment alone to digest what you've taken in and actually think about it, to take a step away from studying someone else's vision and create your own. It's not a matter of never reading. It's a matter of not reading (or watching TV or listening to the radio or surfing the net) all the time.

SomethingOrOther
02-04-2012, 01:39 AM
You might be approaching idea creation in a way that doesn't suit you.

Some prefer to be top-down and concept-centric. They pull the big picture, some initial premise, out of nothing. They ask, "What if X?" and an idea plops out of the literary womb.

Others are bottom-up--particular- and image-centric. They glimpse into a tiny snapshot of a vivid world and yank from it grand premises and possibilities you wouldn't have thought were there.

You might be the latter. Try sitting down and writing detailed 200-250-word-long passages. Don't worry if nothing happens in those passages and the characters don't do much. Just have fun with the details and create interesting worlds--a slice of life. You might be able to pull nice ideas from these passages. Best of all, not a single word will go to waste. Even a passage yields nothing more, you'll have written fiction. ;)

tmesis
02-04-2012, 01:49 AM
A lot of research is going into this area recently and it all seems to indicate that the more you swamp your mind with outside stimuli the less creative your thinking will be.


Drachen, could you link to some articles about this? It's an interesting topic. I've seen some research saying roughly the opposite too, e.g. this study (http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-20129058-247/new-study-links-video-gaming-to-creativity/) linking video gaming and creativity.

Edit: Oh, sorry, I see you already linked to a podcast. Missed it first time round. :)

Drachen Jager
02-04-2012, 02:10 AM
Drachen, could you link to some articles about this? It's an interesting topic. I've seen some research saying roughly the opposite too, e.g. this study (http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-20129058-247/new-study-links-video-gaming-to-creativity/) linking video gaming and creativity.

Edit: Oh, sorry, I see you already linked to a podcast. Missed it first time round. :)

From what I gather it's not what you do for mental distraction, it's the amount of time you spend without those distractions. The science is still quite new, so of course they're discovering new things all the time, but it appears that human brains need several hours a day of down-time to work at their optimum efficiency. Without that time, one of the first things people begin to lose is their creativity.

Rhoda Nightingale
02-04-2012, 02:12 AM
If you want to be creative, the best way is to shut all those outside influences away. Go isolate yourself from everything for a good long session every day. Go on a long walk, or sit on a park bench. Even just sitting on the couch with a coffee in hand and nothing to distract you can be very helpful.

Just to be contrary, I have to say I've found the opposite to be true for me. Certain media can be plain and simply distracting--like The Internet, for example--but I do some of my best brainstorming while listening to music, or doing a jigsaw puzzle, or even watching a movie or TV show I somewhat dislike. (The "dislike" is important. I wind up rolling my eyes at Idiot Plot moments and thinking of what I would have done differently, if I were in charge of the script, and then go off on hundreds of tangents from there. This also applies to being horribly misled by movie trailers--if the story I thought I was going to see doesn't happen, I may write it myself.)

To the Backward Ox: How do you feel about writing prompts? If your biggest problem is generating ideas, there are ways around that.

The Backward OX
02-04-2012, 03:39 AM
To the Backward Ox: How do you feel about writing prompts? If your biggest problem is generating ideas, there are ways around that.
Recently I deleted a site devoted to precisely that, as being the biggest load of infantile drivel it had been my misfortune to stumble across.

Susan Littlefield
02-04-2012, 10:57 AM
You cannot be a writer without being a reader. Period. .

:)

EclipsesMuse
02-04-2012, 12:16 PM
Expanding on being alone with your mind, I would suggest meditation. Yeah, some might think it's silly, but it can actually help clear your mind and leave room for creativity to flow. I also get my best ideas while taking showers and when I lay down to sleep (which doesn't actually help with the whole sleep thing.)

Luciamaria
02-05-2012, 02:39 AM
MJNL and Drachen - I like that. Charlie Horse, I totally agree with you too.