“There is no such thing as somebody sitting down and saying, ‘Now, all right, I’m going to make a new picture.’ Not at all. You have ideas stashed away, dozens of them–good, bad, or indifferent. Then you pull them out of your memory, out of your drawer, you combine them… People think when it comes to a screenplay you start with absolutely nothing. But the trouble is that you have a million ideas and you have to condense them into a thousand ideas, and you have to condense thos into three hundred ideas to get it under one hat, as it were. In other words, you start with too much, not with nothing, and it can go in every kind of direction. Every possible avenue is open. They you have to dramatize it–it is as simple as that–by omitting, by simplifying, by finding a clean theme that leads someplace.”
THE VOID. When each blink of the cursor in your text editor seems to last an eternity. Possibly the worst and most frightening part of being a writer of any kind. And we’re not even talking about writer’s block around here, because the notorious block happens when you have something to write, but you can’t, it can be solved by organizing yourself. However, ideas are the ground zero, is when you have nothing to write about and something must come up from nowhere. Follow Wilder’s advice: there’s no nowhere, our minds are polluted and we must clean it up in order to achieve an original story.
1. Take a time away.
Doesn’t matter how expensive and comfortable your office chair is, it will feel like a judas cradle if you’re willing to harvest ideas there for a long time. People say that you should enjoy your procrastination, break your routine, but that’s not actually essential. The problem is that while you’re staring at the blank page, squeezing an idea from your fingers, you’re thinking “Oh, how writing is boring“; “This pressure is awful“; “Why can’t i have an idea?” and so on, you’re so worried about getting an idea that you unable your mind of doing so. Still, if you break your routines or procrastinate on purpose of writing, you’re on the risk of doing something you dislike, then you’ll start thinking “This party sucks, i wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that stupid writing“. Honestly, my best ideas come from two particular moments: taking a bath and dumping a shit. Both are moment in my routine and doesn’t count as procrastination, still, there’s no blame in the writing and there’s nothing to pollute my head there. It doesn’t work if you use a laxative, by the way.
2. Harvest in the real world.
I dislike the idea of reading blogs for inspiration, you won’t get a brand-new story reading this post, you’ll learn about the craft of story-scavenging. There are people posting about their real lives, somewhere, still, there are easier ways to get in touch with reality. Reading the news is a good start and as smaller the range of news coverage, usually more singular are the articles. Check your local newspaper, those are the best. Sites with curious stories are also a great way to dig up some interesting facts which might inspire you, so i offer you my daily check: Cracked. It’s daily updated with articles on strange subjects and i’m certain that you’ll find something there. Besides that it is funny most of the time :)
3. Change the point of view.
“The genesis of The Apartment I remember very, very vividly. I saw David Lean’s Brief Encounter, which was based on a one-act play by Noel Coward, and in the play Trevor Howard was the leading man. A married man has an affair with a married woman, and he uses the apartment of a chum of his for sexual purposes. I always had it in the back of my mind that the friend of Trevor Howard’s, who only appears in one or two tiny scenes, who comes back home and climbs into the warm bed the lovers have just left, would make a very interesting character.”
If Billy Wilder (also known as DA BOSS) says you can get fresh stories from other people’s work, then you certainly can! I still remember reading François Truffaut: The Lost Secret, organized by Anne Gillian and seeing the french direct state that there’s a limit of dramatic situations, therefore, stories tend to repeat themselves. I’m not telling you to rewrite shit, there are enough remakes going on already and we laying on the rock bottom of the post-modernism crap. Watch a movie, read a book, find a different story, find the life of that supporting character that brought you attention. Commonly fiction is restricted to a single point of view (unless you’re a Robert Altman wannabe) and the events are seen by an unique prism. And this is pretty easy to exercise: grab a scene from a movie and write it from a different point of view than the focused character of it.
4. Be ready.
Carry a notebook and a pen. You’re digesting stuff you’ve recently came into knowledge all the time and an idea may show up anytime and you better keep it. Even if it is bad. Keep a file with your discarded idea, someday you might need any of those. Remember that you must gather a lot of information, since commonly new ideas emerge when you assemble two or more understandings unconsciously.