When you start to show up every day as a writer, certain ideas pop into your head and stick with you day after day.
Sometimes you try to write out these ideas and you are not ready yet. Sometimes you think an idea is one thing but then it morphs into something completely new and better. It is amazing how things things grow and develop over time.
Stephen King says that writing down book ideas is a great way to immortalize bad ideas. Judy Blume keeps an idea notebook, but she admits that she has never actually used one of those ideas as the basis for a story.
That’s because a good book idea will stick with you until you just have to sit down and write it.
I am listening to Neil Gaiman’s collection of nonfiction work, The View from the Cheap Seats. In it he includes an article, “All Books Have Gender.” The thing that stands out most to me in that piece is his description of how his bestselling novel, American Gods, formed over time.
He attempted to write it many times and each time it was a little bit different. What started out as a a chance encounter on a plane between a guy and a magician. Indeed, this did become the beginning of the novel only the magician wasn’t a magician, it was the Norse god Odin.
This may seem intimidating.
How can you possibly create something like this. How can you come up with such amazing, new ideas.
The fact is, you don’t. You show up and something spiritual happens. You write the ideas that come to you and stick with you.
As Gaiman observes at the end of the article:
I wondered what I’d learned, and found myself remembering something Gene Wolfe had told me, six months earlier. “You never learn how to write a novel,” he said. “You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.”