Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ideas are Springing Up Everywhere!

Flowers blooming, birds singing, sun shining... aaahhh. Spring! It's my favorite time of year. I love to go barefoot in the warm grass. But this year, it's more like Spring! Aaahhh-choo! Pine pollen is everywhere. It comes in through my windows, covers the dashboard of my car, and gives everything a yellow tinge.

I don't like pollen, but I do like what pollen represents: productivity. The male flowers of the pine release the pollen into the air so it can find its way to the female cone for reproduction. (Figures, the males make all of this mess!) All over, nature is growing, producing, becoming. What a busy time of year! That's what I love about spring--everything comes alive.

I have a stack of projects piled up to be finished. My fantasy about the witch's daughter... always on my to-do list. (Maybe I'll actually finish it soon.) I have a ghost story, a fantasy about a mermaid in the woods, a new ghost story that I've sketched out, a screenplay, and more. I feel so alive, and ready to tackle all of these projects at once, along with my messy back yard, my window boxes, the back room walls, insulation and flooring, my downstairs bathroom... I am motivated to do it all. Whether writing projects or house projects, spring gives me that super-woman feeling: I can do it all! Bring on those projects!

Many of my writer friends work on more than one project at once. Some writers prefer to focus on one story at a time, devoting their creative energy to that one piece until it is done. Even then, most writers have other projects in some stage of development--outlined, an idea jotted in an idea book, or maybe even started.

Where do writers get their ideas? That's a question writers hear again and again. Honestly, ideas are about as common as the grains of pollen floating on the wind. Ideas are endless. You could probably come up with quite a few story ideas if you try. So how do we do it? How do we find a story to write?

Start with picking a subject. Who will your story be about? A dog? Okay, let's go with a dog.
Next: action. What happens to that dog? Or what does the dog do in your story? Let's say... he applies for a job.
Does he get the job? Well, if you say yes, you might not have much of a story unless you throw some twist in there. Let's say yes, he gets the job. He's a newspaper-delivering dog, and he brings home his pay to support his disabled owner. Plot twist: he gets kidnapped by the evil circus owner who wants him for the big top show.
What next? It's your turn to think of something crazy to happen to him. The monkeys help him escape, but the clowns catch him? Who knows. Be creative!

When you think of a story, make it unique. Make it your own. Make it different than other stories. Don't try to write a story that has already been written. Sure, you could write about a young girl who lives with her aunt and uncle who hate her, and one day she discovers she's a witch, and her name is Harriet Spotter. But hasn't that story been written already, only about a boy named... you get the idea. It was someone else's idea already.

You can find ideas everywhere. Just look around. You might have to dust some pollen off of them, but you'll find them, if you try...

Special "Industry Q&A" for my cousin:
-You're a writer! Can you help me get published? No. I can't even help me get published.
-You're a writer! I have a great idea for a book, can you write it for me? No. I have plenty of my own stories to write (see above). I can help you get started, point you in the right direction, critique your writing for you (I am a master in creative writing, after all), but I can't write your story for you. Only you can write your story.
you have any contacts in the publishing industry? Well, yes, but none that could help you--sorry. (Sorry Mike, I can't help you win her over with my contact list... LOL!)
-I have a friend who published his own book. (Note: that isn't a question, but people say it to me all the time.) That's great for your friend. I hope to find other people to publish my books.
-When you get published, can I have a copy of your book? That's like asking a painter to give you one of their paintings, or a musician to write a song for you. Writers don't get boxes of their books to simply give away to people. You could help them out by buying one of their books, because the only way that a writer gets paid is if their book sells lots of copies--not by giving them away.

I hope you are not discouraged by these answers. You should not be. If you want to be a writer, you just have to give it a try. Look around for an idea, use your imagination, and write. Let your story come out!


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