I have often been asked how I develop writing ideas. It’s a fair question, but it’s too often followed by something along the lines of “I have this brilliant plot for a novel. You write it, and we’ll split the profits.” I generally say something like, “I have this awesome idea for an invention. You turn it into a real prototype, get all the testing done and find someone to license it and I’ll split those profits with you.” Anyway, ninety percent of people who approach me with plots don’t have one and have no real concept of what one is.
For years I have been an organic writer. I do what Stephen King describes as excavation. I start digging into a story and keep digging until it’s all dug up. That’s the way I’ve written every one of my thrillers and nearly one-million words of the epic steampunk series I’m currently at work on. I will occasionally take stock and step back before I lead another of my characters down that deadly one way street and muse up another way for them to go. Sometimes I even have a pretty good notion of where the story is going to end up before I’m three-quarters of the way through, but quite often that doesn’t tell me how to get there, and I just keep writing and hoping.
I use a wonderful program now called YWriter and I highly recommend it both because it’s awesome (I like it MUCH better than Scrivener) and because it’s free so you know I’m not plugging it for profit. I also now often play around with another program called Idea Spinner which is a very low budget and no frills way of getting the creative juices flowing in regards to arcs and plots and scenes. Ywriter, of course, I use daily. IS probably once a week to once a month. Try them. They’re great.
I’m up by mid-morning and writing or working on my photography and will continue to do through the day, but I seem to be more prolific in late afternoon. I try to maintain a minimum of one thousand words a day, but that can go all to hell. In any case I do try to give myself at least an hour or two to read a day to recharge the battery. I read everything from fantasy to horror to history and most often have three to five books going and some on my Kindle.
By eleven I’m back in bed with my wife and two dogs…. But the muse never stops.