On being a writer
So many people ask me about being a writer - how does a writer work? How do you settle down to write a book - and then how do you get your work published? - that I thought I'd share some thoughts here on some of the more common questions.
WHERE DO STORY IDEAS COME FROM?
Everywhere! Everything that you experience, vicariously or actually, goes into your mind to be swirled around with memory and imagination, triggering chains of thought that can lead to entirely different fields from the original stimulus. Add in your knowledge of the world, your observation of how people work, your ability to analyse what is likely to happen in any particular situation - and then swirl it around with a bit more imagination and intuition - and you'll soon end up with a story.
But if no story ideas are springing into your mind at any time, try taking the scenario you're in on any particular day and start saying 'what if?' What if the air conditioner in this waiting room is sending out toxic rays - or truth serum?
Or sit and observe - you'll be surprised how many story ideas will pass by you in a short time. Why is that new BMW pulling a gardener's trailer? What's the story behind the old woman combing her hair at the window?
Creativity is often linked with meditation, whether you practise a formal meditation or your own quiet reflection and relaxation. Stories can appear from that dreamlike trance, or you may find yourself so energised that words simply start to flow when you go back to the computer. Sometimes it helps to direct the meditation: for example, go back through time until you see an incident - maybe even from longer ago than you've ever remembered before, maybe before you were verbal - and see how you can elaborate on that into a story.