I’ve been asked sometimes how I come up with ideas for stories and to be truthful that can be hard for me to answer… well to put it more concisely, I don’t have a clear cut answer for them.
What I’ve found is that when I try to force myself into a position of coming up with idea, I end up with writer’s block. My mind tends to get bunged up, as if closed off to ideas, frustration appears, and I end up with nothing. It’s as if I’m swimming upstream or sailing against a heavy headwind or trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. It’s as if my mind turns off and the more I try and force it, control it, the more the cycle repeats itself.
I’ve found that if I let go, not “think” about it, let anything and everything flow through me naturally, at its own pace, then things begin to develop for me. I first discovered this concept while I was learning how to play guitar. One night I was practicing my F Major chord and I couldn’t get it. My fingers wouldn’t make the shape, the strings were muffled, sounding just awful, and the more I tried and tried and tried, the worse it got. It was horrible and I was so frustrated with myself that after all the feverish practice I had put into it, I just couldn’t get the sound I wanted. Finally, I put my guitar down, took a deep breath, distracted myself with making some dinner, and a couple of hours later picked up that ol’ six string and tried again but… this time not scowling with concentration, not thinking about it, not feeling tense and defeated. It worked. I played a great F Major.
Since, I’ve translated this concept into various aspects of my life and I’ve found it works wonderfully, especially with writing. It sounds funny I know but, when I don’t think, I come up with ideas. When I don’t think, I see something that inspires an idea or something pops into my head that triggers an idea. I’ve also found that if I go to bed with this mindset, I often wake in the middle of the night, a whole storyline or dialogue or imagery of what I want write into a story flowing before my eyes in the dark as I stare at the ceiling. Again, it comes naturally, appearing when it wants to.
Wherever it comes from, the point is the same. Let it go. Don’t get bunged up. Stop trying to force it. Rather, let the idea make its appearance when it wants to and when it should.
I guess everyone has their own way of doing things but, for me, this my key to coming up with writing ideas. Whatever works.