What is your earliest recollection of sitting down and writing a story or an idea for a story?
When did you feel that burning inside that you had a story to tell and that you wanted to share it with others?
What event finally pushed you over the edge where you took the plunge into finishing your first writing project?
These are questions that many of us have faced. Here are some answers from some famous authors:
Talk to people – Cormac McCarthy
Pay close attention to your conversations, even remembering specific things the other person said. Cormac McCarthy used specific conversations with his son as inspiration for The Road. In fact, some dialogue in the book is word-for-word what his son and he said (“Papa, what would you do if I died?” / “I’d want to die, too”).
Take notes about your childhood – Tobias Wolff
Tobias Wolff had no plans to write a memoir before starting This Boy’s Life, but he kept so many notes about his childhood, moving around with his mother, that eventually the notes became an idea and that idea “chose” him, all he had to do was write it.
Write about people close to you who have died – Mitch Albom
The main character from Mitch Album’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven is directly based on Albom’s Uncle Eddie. After Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom wanted to write a book about a character who was hopeful despite already having lost. His favorite uncle, now dead, immediately came to mind: “As I got older, I saw him as a tough, devoted but sad old man who never got to see his dreams fulfilled and never really knew how much we loved him.”
Go people-watching and imagine their lives – Judy Blume
Judy Blume, a self-proclaimed “people person,” has enough imagination to take in details while people-watching and come up with what’s missing. She says, “Ideas come from everywhere–they come from what you see and hear and imagine. My husband says I have too much imagination, but I don’t think a writer can have too much imagination!”
Do you have stories all around you waiting to be written? Do voices in your head want to escape to the written page? If so, you are in an elite club of creative people. Enjoy it.
It would be fun if you would share your ‘aha’ moments when you decided you wanted to be a writer. Please feel free to comment.