I lost my ability to write fiction many moons ago. I stopped practicing. I stopped filling notebooks with crazy stories and built a wall made of "that's not good enough" and "that doesn't make sense." When I was young and sitting in class with my head down in a spiral notebook, I didn't care about making sense. I just wrote the stories.
Now I hammer out blog posts and magazine articles, and although there is creativity in that, it's different. There are no characters to grow with, no plot to unfold.
Even my journal entries feel stiff.
My big dream is to write a work of fiction, but anytime I start a story it dies a premature death. Plot is my villain. I've got all the colorful characters you could want, but there's no story. The people are just hanging around waiting for me to give them something to do.
Another thing is that I want whatever story I write to not only take the readers on a journey, but me as well. I've had trouble coming up with ideas, themes, plots, characters I can dig deep into.
This year, I'm making it a goal to get back to fiction writing. Practice, practice, practice. And I can't use the excuse that I have no ideas because I've learned that to find those ideas, I must write. Sometimes finding ideas is like going to a garage sale; you must have patience and dig around a little. Move things around. See what's behind the ugly paintings. You might find a lot of crap, but in all that crap is a gem. There's gotta be!
I bought this book on Kindle called Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell. Because like I said, plot is haaaard for me. In chapter 3 he writes about coming up with plot ideas and how a writer must start with herself. "All writers should periodically take a look inside themselves," he says. Then he lists 12 questions to help "...open up a door into your own soul. From that viewpoint, you can better evaluate plot ideas."
I've just spent some time answering these questions and I can say that, whether you're planning on writing a story or not, they'll help you discover who you are underneath all those layers.
I agree that we must take a look inside every now and then. It's where all the good stuff is. Interested in doing the same? Here are the questions:
- What do you care most about in this world?
- If you were to write your own obituary, how would you want it to read?
- What is your physical appearance? How do you feel about it? How does it affect you?
- What do you fear most?
- What are your major strengths of character?
- What are your major flaws?
- What are you good at? What do you wish you were good at?
- If you could do one thing and know that you would be successful, what would you do?
- What are three events from your childhood that helped shape you into the person you are today?
- What are some of your annoying habits?
- What secret in your life do you hope is never revealed?
- What is your philosophy of life?