You can be the best writer on the face of the planet, but if you don’t have anything to write about you’re screwed.
Lets face it, a writers least favourite past time is having a face off with a blinking cursor, but often that’s exactly what we find ourselves doing. (Wait what…? Did I just call myself a writer? I guess I kind of did.. :S Hmm..lets go with extreme amateur writer, that seems a little more accurate.)
There is nothing I find more frustrating than sitting readily at a computer full of proactive excitement ready to write the best prose in history and then stopping short, because hey there’s just one problem. I have no story.
Perhaps I should backtrack a little. You see, what prompted this spur of the moment post is my Creative Writing class. For my first semester I had to write a 2,000 word short story. I was stuck. Desperately searching in to the depths of my brain I wondered where all my childhood imagination had run off to. I used to have endless ideas zooming around up there but after years and years of not writing anything fiction at all, I felt pretty rusty. In the end I kind of cheated by adapting a vague novel idea I’d had for some time and reshaping it into something much shorter. Hmm.
Here entereth semester two, and guess what? I have to write another short story! 2,500 words this time. *curses and flying pigs*
I have to say in this case I don’t think my only problem is imagination. It’s the constriction. I hate being set word limits and it immediately makes me feel boxed in. I also pretty much have zero experience with short stories, I’m strictly a novel kinda gal! Ever heard you are what you read? I guess that’s why I’m having such a hard time with this…
I’ve always been a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote –
“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”
Maybe that’s why I’m having so much trouble. For university I’m not writing because I’m inspired, I’m writing because I am required to. Mind you, before university I wasn’t writing anything fiction altogether, so at least it’s a step up!
I have often heard it said that if you don’t have endless stories buzzing around in your head then you are not a writer. I’m not sure I believe this. Of course it’s true to some extent, you do need an idea but I just disagree with the part that they are easy to come by.
So what I would like to ask you fellow avid readers and writers is when you want to write a story where do you get your ideas from? Do they instantly just appear like when my roommate was walking back to our halls and pizza mysteriously fell out of a tree? Or do you have to really think about them? And if you are stuck in the mud, what’s your equivalent of a hand wipe? (I’m in such a random mood) Do you use charts, spider diagrams, research or long walks on the beach?
I’m really interested to hear your answers! 🙂
P.S. If anyone knows how I can get hold of some famous free short stories online for research, let me know! 🙂
My own please do not reuse.