What to Write - Getting the Idea

Say you’re assigned a story to write in class or a report for your job. Or, you’re an independent author with a deadline to meet. Where do you start?

Many writers stare at the page until inspiration hits them.  Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t so much as hit them between the eyes, but creeps up on them until they realize they are pregnant with an idea to which they must give birth.

I have a way that is like backing into the start.  It works even better if you can let that “baby” gestate overnight.

Most of the time writers know, at least vaguely, what their topic is.

My approach is to jot down random thoughts and facts that come to mind on the topic.  Or, for a fictional work, I might jot down some imagined scenes or write a character’s biography.

If you can take that time to let your mind work on the project overnight, you might wake up, as I often do, with an idea popping into your head as you awaken.  I have recently taken to keeping a pad and pen by my bedside so I can scribble that idea (even in the dark) as legibly as I can – key words only – so I don’t lose the inspiration.

Before I started with the bedside recording, I even awoke and scrambled to my desk to record the idea.

The good news is that in every occasion but one, the idea was useful and could at least be worked into the writing.  Once it was a truly inspired idea.  Another time, the idea was unusable since I couldn’t read the scrawl.  Not bad odds for about 10 recent efforts.

It proves that your brain is solving your questions as you sleep!  Not bad for having closed eyes and some semblance of rest happening at the same time!

Once I have a number of facts and ideas for a non-fiction topic, I might proceed to outline the project’s entire length.  A similar approach can work for the fictional effort, but I like to start populating the story and find that the plot pops out in connection with the characters.

Either way, you’ve gotten started!

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