Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Imagination to Ink - Idea

'Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one,' says Salman Rushdie.
Absolutely! Great books have found their authors. But even then we have to start a conscious process at some point. A concrete thought. A germ. An idea. You have to have an idea for a story. But where does this idea come from?
Have you ever woken up restlessly from your sleep, with something jiggling in your mind? Something that you dreamt perhaps or some incident that happened? That could be the vague hint or beginning of an idea!
Ideas can come from almost anywhere. Day-to-day life. Newspapers, books, dreams, songs, films, workplace, people on the streets, shops. While you are exercising, in the bathroom, while you’re shopping, listening to music or to your neighbor’s chatter, hearing a dog bark or doing absolutely nothing. It may crop up suddenly in a quiet, totally silent moment. Sometimes it’s one idea, sometimes there are too many at a time. The one that keeps recurring—that sticks in your mind—is the one that has to be developed!
J.K.Rowling was traveling by train from Manchester to London, when the idea of Harry Potter fell into her head. . . . Agatha Christie says, "they come suddenly, I even don’t know how. Whenever I am listening to opera, walking on the street… they come from everywhere!”
The fact is that there is no sure-fire method of finding an idea. But that doesn’t mean we cannot try to attract one. One way is with brainstorming. Which is a random generation of ideas. Sit with a friend and throw out different ideas that come to your mind, without checking their workability. Write them down if you like. If you have too many ideas vying for attention, write all of them down! Then keep going over them, considering each possibility, till finally you hit on the one that really appeals to you.
Another way is to stop worrying too much. Don’t pursue it in a frenzy. The more you push your mind, the farther the idea will go. Relax, keep your mind open, observe everything and everyone around you and before you know it, THE IDEA will have found you!
If you don’t already have a story in your mind, try these methods out. There is never a certainty but anything may work.
Here’s a simple exercise to stimulate your brain. Jot down ten words that immediately come to your mind. Don’t think. Just write down any ten words. Then look at the words. They may be disconnected. Using the words, make sentences in such a way that all ten sentences are interconnected. Through out this process, observe the way your mind tries to reach out to different ideas. Try this exercise and tell me your experience.

Imagination to Ink - What do you want to write?

What do you want to write?
You're here! Which means that you do believe that there is a writer in you. Good, so let's get started.
You are already aware that there are different types of books - Romance, Romantic Suspense, Crime, Mystery, Thrillers, Children's fiction, Science-fiction, Fantasy, Horror and many others. What do you really like to read?
Reading is a natural habit with most writers. We are exposed to a variety of books from a very young age. So many generations have grown up reading the Enid Blyton books as well as classics by Jane Austen, Somerset Maugham and others. For those who believe that love is the key word, Romances play a big role. It is not at all surprising that Mills & Boon, Silhouette—the romantic genre has been going strong worldwide. On the other hand, brain-racking mysteries are also extremely popular. Agatha Christie—the Queen of Crime—still rules the world with her unmatchable tales of suspense.
Preferences may differ and reading habits may vary. But the indisputable truth, is that a good read may come from any genre. But what you have to decide is what you would like to write. Should you write what you like to read or should you experiment?
Personally, I believe that you should begin by writing what you like to read. Don't forget that you are a reader after all! Also remember that writing is a tough job. Someone once said that "writing is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. . ."
So, if you are going to experience all these hardships to reach the ultimate pleasure and satisfaction of a complete novel, you may as well begin with a genre or a story that is close to your heart. Because only then will you be motivated to put your heart and soul into the work. Only then, will your story reach and touch other hearts.
There's no harm in experimenting, of course. Trying out genres that you would like to explore, is like trying to prove something. Sometimes to others, sometimes to yourself.
What is most important is that you write for yourself. If you like what you write, then there's a chance that others will too. But if you write with others in mind, it is certain that you may lose interest along the way and your work would be a half-hearted attempt.
Either way, think of Benjamin Franklin's famous quote—"Either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing!