Tag Archives: fiction

Inspiration By Free Association

11 Sep
Isaac Asimov Quote

Isaac Asimov Quote (Photo credit: Psychology Pictures)

Isaac Asimov is widely regarded as one of the fathers of science fiction, and as one of the better writers in recent history. He was also one of the most prolific authors every. He wrote hundreds upon hundreds of short stories, dozens of novels… I could go on. A lot, basically. One of his most recognized accomplishments was without a doubt the Foundation series. If you haven’t read that, then A, what have you been doing all your life, and B, go read it now. Seriously. Right now.
Besides being a generally brilliant author and fount of creativity, Asimov also had a useful tool which he used often. Inspiration by free association. He once said that he would open a book in two or three places, choose a few words and random, and build a plot based on those words.
There’s method to Asimov’s madness. Being stuck usually means that you have absolutely no idea where to start, but the actual starting point is not necessarily important in itself. So free association can often get you kick-started in a direction you would never have thought of.
Next time you want to write something but haven’t the faintest clue where to begin, try Asimov’s trick. Open a book and choose some words. Inspiration by free association. It even rhymes – what more can you ask for?

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Writing in the Real World

20 Apr
art of writing

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

I wonder what the percentage of lead characters in novels and in movies are writers. I’ll bet it’s one of the more popular professions in the fictional world. Being a writer seems like an easy job. On the screen, they hardly ever show the writer writing. He or she is usually busy receiving the accolades from adoring fans about a piece that is already written and published, or the scene shows the excitement of beginning the quest for information. But they hardly ever show the actual writing. That’s because actually writing is never as pretty as thinking about writing, or getting an idea to write about, or having written. It is the crucial step, though. Thinking about writing does not make one a writer. And one can’t reap the rewards of a well-crafted piece without the writing of it.

Writers usually don’t look their best while writing. They look a little daft and unkempt, truth be told. When I’m writing, I generally haven’t put on makeup or combed my hair. I talk out loud to myself throughout the whole process. And a good portion of the time is spent doing no writing at all, but thinking deeply while performing an inordinate number of facial expressions. I wouldn’t pay to watch that.

Writing seems sexy. It seems interesting. It seems rewarding and challenging and exciting. But that’s the fictional version. Writing in the real world is often tedious and under appreciated and poorly compensated. Writing in the real world takes way more time than most people would imagine. Most of real writing is editing. Most real writing is thrown out in a quest to make it better. Most real writing is pretty lonely work.

But having written, and written well…

That’s another story.

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