Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How I Write: I Never Said I Made Sense

Many years ago, one of the members of our "No Name" critiquing group asked me how I came up with my story ideas. I remember smirking at the question, not because it was out of line, but rather because the answer was elusive. Truth be told, trying to describe my writing process is a bit like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree.

I am reminded of this now as I sit before this blank piece of digital paper with the cursor silently blinking at me in anticipation. "Alright Shakespeare," it seems to say.  "What have you got for me this time? Something good? Or are you going to foul out again?"

My imagination is a terrible thing if left ungoverned.

So, I begin my process. Actually, it began shortly after my last post. A protracted casting about the world around me for topics that will interest me and - ultimately - you, dear reader. I have the memory of a goldfish, so anything I happen across in those early days is lost. Yes, yes...I should write them down. Yet, I don't. This goes on until my turn comes about. Sometimes there are topics a plenty and sometimes (as in this week) the well is dry.

"What now, Hemingway?"

Music. The right kind of music to get started. Nothing with words, as I tend to end up typing the lyrics instead of my own text. Liquid Mind for those days when the idea factory is in idle, The 1812 Overture for battle scenes, The William Tell Overture for chase scenes, etc.... Of course, one can't go wrong with Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train for villain scenes.

And then, as tonight, I simply turn out the lights and let the music lull my mind. Most times, an idea foments in that stillness. A sentence or a concept that ripples outward into a scene, post, or story. Even if that blog post ends up being about how you come up with ideas for your posts. '

"And if that doesn't work, Dante?"

The nuclear option. Binge watch Star Wars, LOTR, or Monty Python's The Holy Grail  and hope that inspiration whacks me on the head.

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