An Experiment in Spontaneity

I don’t know what I’m going to write about today.

Really.  I suppose this is just one of those days.  A day when you can’t think of something to write, no matter how hard you stare at the computer screen.  A day when all of your creativity seems to have deserted you.  Because I honestly can’t think of anything to talk about.

I don’t think it’s because I’ve written about everything there is to write about; reading is an eternally ongoing experience for me, and I doubt I’ll ever be finished with it.  Maybe I’m just not feeling inspired today.

So, the question is this: what inspires people to write?  I don’t mean what makes them want to write or what gives them the original ideas for their writing, but what fleshes out their stories?  What is that crucial element which allows writers to keep doing what they do, without fail?

Maggie Stiefvater (you remember her, don’t you?) wrote about this topic some time ago on her blog (which is linked-to in the sidebar as always).  She said that one needs to go out and live.  Really live, as in see new places, experience new things, do something you’ve never done and draw from that.  Use your adventures to fuel your stories, to make it seem more real.  Inspiration, according to her, cannot be obtained from staying in the same environment all the time.  If a writer is holed up in his or her room every day, he or she is drawing on the same set of memories and knowledge that he or she always has.  When that happens, the well of ideas is going to dry up eventually.

Nature can be very good for the creativity.

I tend to agree with Mrs. Stiefvater.  I believe we writers need to go out there and really live life and be inspired.

So if you ever have a day like mine, a day where you are simply sitting in front of the monitor with a blank space where your thoughts usually are, my advice is do something different.  It doesn’t have to be much.  After all, it doesn’t take much for an idea to form.

Like this post.  I did something I’ve never really done before: I started writing with absolutely no preconceived notion of what I was going to post about.  All I knew was that I was going to post today.  I just started writing, and look where it led me.  I now have a full-fledged blog post for you, as well as some sound advice for myself.  And that brings me to a second piece of advice that has become apparent: on a day such as this, writers, just write something.  Write anything.  Start with absolutely no idea what you are writing, whether it be the worst thing you’ve ever written or the most epic novel ever produced in the history of humanity.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  You never know where those first few sentences might take you.  You might even get something great out of it.

It all works out eventually.

In other words: don't let lack of inspiration get you down!

Happy reading!

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Earthquakes and Experience

A short while ago, an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale rocked the state of Virginia and could be felt 200 miles away.  Being on the East Coast, I’m one of those who felt it- not that I realized it at the time.  This is a traumatic experience for most of us living here, as earthquakes, to us, are things to be heard about, things that happen in far-off places like Japan and California.  Not here, certainly.  They are never here.

Today, though, that belief was squished between tectonic plates.  Although it was not at all prominent enough to cause damage in my area, this event got me thinking about how much our personal experiences shape our writing.  In an earlier post I mentioned that what happens in our own lives, what we know, does not necessarily have to dictate what we can write about.  I still hold to that theory.  However, when describing something that occurs in real life, I believe that firsthand knowledge can go a long way towards making scenes and settings believable.

For example, I live in an area that usually is safe from natural disasters, except perhaps the occasional storm.  Therefore, putting disasters into my writing would not be very plausible, as I have no idea how it feels to be in one.  Now, of course, I could MAYBE write about earthquakes, but as I was not in the middle of it that’s still unlikely.

It’s not completely required to have this firsthand knowledge, but I think it just helps everything a lot more than if you were never in a certain setting or event.  This is why even fantasy writers put so much of their own lives into creating their worlds.  Christopher Paolini based his Alagaesian mountain landscapes off of his home state of Montana.  Suzanne Collins could write so fluently about war because of her family’s dealings in the military, and she was brought up discussing the effects of it.  It’s no surprise that the authors who do pull from their own lives tend to write more vivid and “real” worlds, at least in my opinion.

Very Alagaesia-ish. Which I guess is the point.

That’s it, I suppose.  My advice to you is try writing your settings based on places you’ve been personally, or things you’ve witnessed.  Maybe you’ll like how it turns out.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone in the middle of that earthquake.  I hope they’re all okay.

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

Lionsgate has announced that the first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games will be shown during the VMA’s this SUNDAY!  It’s our first look at actual footage, guys!  And it’s arriving a whole lot sooner than I expected.  I can feel my fangirl anticipation growing.  More on this will DEFINITELY be coming later!

And I thought the STILLS were exciting.

Happy reading!

Sometimes Idioms Are Wrong

There’s an old saying that goes, “write what you know.”

Yeah, right.

As an author, especially an author of fantasy/science fiction, this is the exact opposite of what we should do.  I mean, think about this.  If all of us really wrote what we knew, every book ever written would be about the mundane life of a novelist.  There would be no fiction, at least not any good fiction.

For a fantasy or science fiction writer, the entire point is to write what you don’t know.  It’s to expand your mental horizons and find that thing that no one has ever imagined before, and build a story around it.  It’s to write about things that never could exist.

That would be impossible if we wrote what we knew.  This phrase eliminates creativity and imagination.  It’s quite possibly the dumbest saying I’ve ever heard.

If ever author wrote what they knew, there would be no magic in books, no fantastic creatures, no daring and alien worlds.  There would be nothing to look forward to.

No one would want to read stuff like that.

I know that I certainly would never be published as a fiction writer if I only wrote experiences that stemmed from my everyday life.  I’m too boring for that.  Besides, this is why people write fantasy in the first place: to get away from the everyday world.

Well, that’s about all I had to say on the matter.  This is a really short post for me, so it feel strange wrapping up now, but I know if I say any more I’ll just be repeating myself.  So…

This is the last post I’ll be able to do for a week due to summer camp.  Sorry, but that’s the way things are.

Happy reading!