I often get asked by friends and fellow writers: How do you come up with an idea for a story?
While there are many ways of doing this, I’m going to share what works for me. Many times, I like to just sit down and write. I try to squeeze in times during the day, often only 10-30 minutes and write while I have available time. My main writing, however, is done at night.
I love the night because it is quiet. I’ll usually start around 9:30pm when everyone goes to bed and then write, off and on, till midnight. Some nights, I’ll write as late as 3 or 4am, depending on what type of groove I’m in. I’d realistically say that I write 2-3 hours per day with a minimum of 1 hour and a max of 5 hours.
Regardless of how long you write, remember this: some writing is better than no writing.
If you can only spare 15 minutes, use that 15 minutes and know that every little bit adds up. It’s a lot like diet and exercise. Often, we don’t exercise as much as we’d like to but something is better than nothing.
I do like to write down big picture ideas for the novel I’m working on. I like having ideas to use as I’m writing and more times than not, what I initially wrote down changes from what I sit down and type. That’s okay, the important thing for me is that I have something to work from- a starting point. This helps me to not forget a good idea that may pop into my mind as well as think the overarching plot out in advance.
I also find it helpful to edit as I go. I’ll go over every chapter from the beginning after I finish each individual chapter. Then, I’ll go through every five chapters or so as a group so I make sure I’m keeping continuity. It also reminds me of the subtle details I inserted earlier and keeps things flowing nicely. Then, at the end, I go through the entire book 3-4 more times as a whole, taking time between each edit to let the book sit and breathe.
After all is said and done, it’s fair to say I’ve gone over the novel around 20 times. The most important thing you can do as a writer is to write. I’ve written so much crap that I’d be embarrassed for you to read it. Eventually, you’ll find what you were meant to write and then you’ll never stop.