Where do stories come from? Stories from ideas

Typing is not the act of creating a story. It is only the means whereupon that story is shown. Story creation comes from the mind. It is an inventive imagination that springs from creative inspiration around the storyteller.

An old typewriter is clicking away in a dimly lit room, sounding down a carpeted hall inside a lonely studio. Its keys are methodically tapping as a professor – wearing a suit and suspender match that speaks “1930’s” – is sitting at a dark wooden desk. Shades over the window are slicing the sunbeams to filter dimly into the room, alighting in neat, organized lines over the desk. The professor’s eyes are not on his paper. They are dancing rhythmically around the room to the same pattern of the keys. Every now and then, he glances back to the paper scrolling upward with every line, checking his work before again wandering his eyes about the room.

Is the professor’s attention riveted to the room or to his work? A casual observer might say the former, but a writer will tell you that the professor is not thinking about the room or about the paper in front of him. He is thinking about ideas. . . .

Storytelling doesn’t come by someone sitting in front of a desk on a typewriter, computer screen, or pen and paper. It doesn’t come by staring at a flashing cursor as one thinks, “What can I write?” Storytelling first comes from ideas. Those ideas are then jotted down as they are organized and compiled in the mind. Most of the grind work of an author, when dubiously working at his creation, is spent in front of a writing instrument. However, it is not the writing instrument that gives him his ideas. The imagination of the storyteller comes from reference material – data that can come from nearly anywhere: Another story, a photo/painting, an experience, a place, a dream, a smell, even a wish or desire that you’ve had. A good storyteller will collect as much reference material as he/she can that gives direct cultural context to the story they write. The words should usually flow quickly across the pages. If they are not, it is not the fault of the writing instrument. (Writing instruments can cause their own problems if they become too much of a distraction – one reason why I rely a lot on pen/paper and voice recording before doing the grind work of typing/editing my works.) Writer’s block is simply your mind telling you that it is running out of ideas – or that those ideas need to be revitalized. An experienced writer will take a minute away from the desk – just a minute, mind you – and reconnect with the ideas/imaginations of his mind. He will look through reference material, think through a couple phrases, and return to a writing instrument to write those phrases down.

The professor opens his eyes and blinks back into focus. He looks over his paper to see a tangled knot of words typed over words. Snatching fast at another paper upon the table, he remarks that sometimes, his mind can become too lost in his ideas. The typewriter needed another paper several sentences ago!

So true!

Your fellow writer,

Joshua A. Reynolds, Proprietor

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