Who hasn’t wanted to write a book? I suppose lots of people… people interested in other things, like sports or crafting or spending time with other living humans. But if you’re one of those people, why are you reading this?
The itch to write is a wonderful thing. It makes your fingers all twitchy and leaves you staring at the wall picturing the fantastic worlds beyond. But wanting to write a book is only the first step. Until you know what the heck you want to write, it’s difficult to get started.
After I finished my first book, I knew I wasn’t done. I was scared to start another one, scared of that particular obsession that sets in once momentum begins, but I craved it like an addiction. The lure of a world coming to life beneath your fingers is impossible to ignore.
But though I had ideas, none of them were coming together. I wrote the opening page of four different stories, sitting back each time and deciding they weren’t right. Then I got frustrated and decided I was never going to write again. Yeah right.
It took some time to stumble across my baby. But when I did, it took me over with a vengeance. At any given time, I was pretty much existing as one of my characters, yanked from their world and tossed into the mundane. It was glorious.
So let me tell you, as frustrated as you might get, you’ll get there.
Write short stories
Maybe this one is obvious. It wasn’t to me. But short stories are amazing opportunities of exploration. When I wrote part 1 of the Writing Prompt Project, Kindling (if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so!), I realized that I fell in love with the world I created, and I wanted to do more with it. It was just a glimpse into a new setting, but it was tantalizing, and in future it’s something I might explore a little further…
But what I’m getting at is that short stories are kind of like test-driving. Try out your world and see if you love it. Maybe it’s not the right fit right now, but it might be later. Or maybe you think it’s a great idea on the onset but realize it doesn’t hold your interest the way you thought it would. Don’t be afraid to dip a foot in the water.
I’m a brutal daydreamer. I always have been. I build intricate stories in my daydreams, filled with ideas and visuals and characters that I’m currently obsessing about. I love daydreaming, but it always leaves the part of me searching for something tangible unfulfilled. (No kidding, you might say, but I dare you to say you’ve never felt that too.)
When I was struggling to find the concept for my second novel, I would sit on the train lost in daydreams, then get home and try to rationalize out a story I wanted to write. No wonder it didn’t work.
One day on the train I realized I was an idiot. I had this epic story swirling through my head, but it hadn’t occurred to me to claim it for a novel. That was probably the most hilarious face-palm moment of my life.
As soon as I got home, I wrote my first chapter and I loved it.
Now, not only did I find my baby, but I had a tangible, fulfilling expression of a story that my thoughts had been circling for longer than I’d like to admit. Why didn’t I think of it sooner? That’s a good question. But in the end I got there.
So, daydream! Stare out the window and let your inner characters express themselves and do epic things! Then you’ll know what you really want to write about.
You can’t force a surge of inspiration, as much as you might want to. Brainstorming only goes so far, when none of those ideas carry you away in the tide. Once you find your story, you’ll know it. Trust me.