Writing Advise

Yes, I misspelled advice to annoy the folks and draw them in! Who's the fool now, ehhh? So why don't you cut back on the criticle eye, Little Miss Grammer Pants?

Anyhoo, I saw this question via Wayne Borean on Twitter. Go answer it yourself if you have any thoughts. Mine are spewed out again below.

Writing: I want to write a novel, but I don't have an appealing story idea, skill as a good writer, much free time, tenacity, much imagination, or observational skill needed to write a good novel. What should I do? 

I want to write my first novel but I have some issues and excuses to get started. Please suggest how should I cope with them and start writing.  

1.      I don't have a good/clear and appealing story to take a start 

Ehhhm...this is a...ehhhm...a...thumbnail...photo. Ahem.
1. Whaddaya wanna write? Or write about? Do you know what your subject will be? When you say you don't have a clear idea, do you have any idea? Take the most interesting aspect or element of your idea if you want to make a start, and jump in. Recount that event or thought through writing, and go! Then, take things from there - either filling in the history of the incident, or what happens next, or both. And build the story around that idea, if you don't want it to be the START of the novel.

2.      I have no experience of writing fiction (esp. in English) 

2. This is not important. Don't be afraid to start. The only people who must know you're writing is YOU, the National Security Agency, Microsoft and the chubby South-East Asian fella with the funny haircut. Be brave. Write. You don't have to share anything until you're happy.

3.      I do a 10 hour technical job five days a week and left with little time to pursue my passion 

3. If you're working full time and you're inspired to write, you'll write, unless the technical aspects of your job are draining your brain each evening. If this is the case, try to write first thing in the morning or over the weekend. Find an idea that inspires you enough to get through it. Sometimes, WRITING jobs can be absolutely soul-destroying in terms of inspiration. But technical jobs can often be incredibly inspiring because they are limited in terms of "creative" brain use, and people write through lunchbreaks etc. Rather famous writers work as hospital porters or  schoolteachers.

Depending on your job, you may find that you're too drained to write. Just take notes and mine your head for thoughts. It's about the little things, and you can check over them when you're less tired. Conversely, if an idea is strong enough, you'll survive on four hours sleep over 48 hours in order to get something finished (like a chapter or a story).

4.      Every time I want to take a start I end up with nothing and it hurts a lot 

4. Again: You might need the germ of an idea. See 5.

5.      I don’t have a vivid/deep imagination and observation which is needed to craft a good story

5. Take a bad idea. Ask yourself: "What if?" In that scenario, no idea is bad. It's all in the execution and follow-through.

Go out over the weekend. You might see stuff like this:

1 A woman flees a cab without paying her fare. But what if...?
2 A night-club doorman refuses a man entry into a club. But what if the man he's just refused turns to leave, and both of them are suddenly held at gunpoint by a third individual, and a van pulls up and they're both pushed into it before screeching away.

3 A girl is too drunk to order another drink, head slumped on the bar. But what if...?
4 A man urinates in a garden on the way home. But what if the homeowner comes out...?
 

Take a walk. Say what you see, then ask What if? Check out people at the cafe or supermarket or in traffic or on the train. 

Open a pot of yogurt and describe what you smell and taste exactly. What could happen?

Go to the website of a hotel and describe its lobby or rooms from the photos. What could happen?

If you're a literalist, be as literal as you like. Start from real life. But just ask: What if?
Good luck.