Writers all over the world have various modes and methods of writing, as well as differing motivations. Some write searching for truth, some with the intent of publishing novels, some for purely personal reasons. However, we each has something deeper that makes us want to write, sometimes before realizing what our goals are regarding what we produce. How we experience that urge can be very different.
Here, I’ll write a bit about my journey, and what inspires me to write.
Ever since I can remember, I have had a relationship with books and loved reading. Although reviewing old schoolwork shows I was seemingly handy with story-based writing assignments, it wasn’t until middle school that I wrote my first real story. It was an awful self-insertion fanfic bridging our current world with that of the Dragonriders of Pern. While it was terrible writing, I enjoyed fitting the pieces together and spending more time in a world I loved.
For a while, my writing was quite derivative, and even the first writings I did for Zaira were inspired by another work. Of course, the Lupa world has since been built and there’s hardly anything left of those first drafts. It wasn’t until high school, when Zaira came along, that I began to take writing–and the idea that I wanted to be a writer–more seriously.
During high school and especially college, I spent periods not writing, but eventually would start working on the story again. Small breaks are still common, although usually it’s only days or weeks. But once I started working, and realizing the larger story that was unfolding, I began building a writing regimen. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s what it was.
Despite having no plans for publication or reaching others, I began to realize that I wanted to be a writer anyway. The desire to continue writing and put down new ideas, characters, and stories became stronger as I learned what I was doing and to accept that that was okay. I write for myself, and there was more space and acceptance of that as time went on. Now when I’m working well on a piece, I can do 2 or 3 sessions in a day.
The more I write, the longer I’ve been doing it, the stronger the urge gets.
Traditionally, I get into stories for the character. This blog is full of character advice, and the idea that stories start just there–with a good character. Once the bad fanfic idea ended, I began building stories based on particular characters. I started to focus on who those characters really were, just not what I had envisioned them as, and how their personalities, actions, and needs drove a story.
It’s changed the way that I approach character design. Instead of building a character based on what I want for them or think is cool, it’s more important to explore their background, what influences that had, and how/why they make decisions. Miara, for instance, came out of what life would be like for the child of two people in a particular position, at a particular point in time, and the way that they would raise someone.
Images and music, especially, inspire me to write things for certain moods or ideas they create. A recently playable character, Yasuko, was based on a pinterest image I found one day while also contemplating a new Wizarding World character. As a result, she has poor eyesight, is a metamorphmagus, and loves tea. Other times, I’m inspired to write scenes with food or cooking. After watching Yuri!!! On Ice (and falling in love with the Yuri on Ice piano solo) I wrote a scene about ice skating. Although these can be highly derivative, there’s no reason not to have fun writing something. Many times, these can be toned down and included in official works, but even if not, the exercise can be highly enjoyable.
Most often lately, I start new things based on ideas. Sometimes they’re intriguing things inspired by something I’ve seen, read, or hear of. Other times, it’s “what will happen if X happens with these characters?” Especially if there’s a large emotional payload involved. I often want to explore those things, and see what those characters will do, how they will respond, etc. This can lead to both very uplifting and very dark places.
As writers, we should not be afraid to write anything, whether we don’t think we can properly convey how awesome an event is, or are intimidated by intimate events, bitter attitudes, or extremely dark places. These things are part of us, and our characters, even when we don’t want to admit to them. The longer I write, the more convinced I am that delving more and more into the deep things of our characters and ourselves is essential for several things.
Knowing who our characters are, and who we are, and what we think about these things, can be essential in adding both depth and a sense of reality and completion to a story. Others will be able to relate to them more easily, and we can have a better understanding of ourselves. Writing things out will force you to think of your own position on things. Writing out things that are challenging or difficult can be intimidating, but is often an important step for these and many more reasons.
Remember that just because you’ve written something doesn’t mean it should always be part of the official story. Sometimes we need to explore for our own reasons, or produce material that would be more at home in a wiki than in the story itself. And that’s just fine. When you have an idea, run with it. Decide later if it’s part of the story, or if it was to help you explore.
What Motivates You
For some of us, especially when we’re starting out and may be unsure of ourselves, finding motivational elements for writing can be difficult. I know my journey hasn’t always been easy, and there have been many times when I’ve been scared to write a particular scene or experienced writer’s block.
Over the years, however, I’ve come to understand what kind of things motivate me to write (music, images, and sometimes food), and which stories I find highly motivating: relationships and large, difficult emotional payloads. I have also begun to understand that I enjoy the work it takes to pull off a good piece that deals with deep issues.
In my case, one of the most influencing things is music. I have written whole scenes/events and even started an entire new story/world based on musical pieces I wanted to use. I use music as background almost any time I write, and sometimes finding the right music is like a switch that lets that part of the story flow out onto the page. One should not forget that music is the language of the soul, and it can help you.
I also know now what specific styles of music within a genre encourage me. I definitely prefer wordless music such as scores, soundtracks, and production music. However, I find pieces with several musical lines which are slowly added to build through throughout the piece. Often, several of these lines is a repeated motif. These are pieces like appear in the score for Ender’s Game. I find that these allow me to get into the piece and provide more prolonged energy.
Since we talked about beautiful things above, the other thing I’ll talk about here is food. I often enjoy writing about food in my stories. Not only is it present, certain characters allow me to go through the process of making and critically tasting food when it’s present in the story. I go into such things because I want to, but it probably connects to others–we all eat, prepare, or otherwise interact with food on a daily basis.
I try not to make every character into cooking, or even much into eating, but I like being able to indulge this part of me in characters who cook, bake, or are learning. Characters often share things when cooking. They can becoming close to one another, or reveal things to the writer about themselves. “My mother used to make sushi with game meats” (Zaira). “We ate this when we were little, we’d come around Christmas and everything was warm and festive” (Eiry and Sali). “Dad used to always take us to the park on Saturdays to get ice cream, it reminds me of how much I hate him since he abandoned us” (Adam).
For example, Suzie wants to be a professional homemaker for her race when she’s an adult, and currently takes care of a young child. She’s beginning her first foray into puff pastry–she wants to make pain au chocolate. Describing the process is enjoyable for me, and I’ll also find out if she enjoys that level of precision or prefers to stick with more family style cooking (insights on her personality and patience).
What You Write
Understanding what you enjoy writing is a key element in being a writer. Although I often find it allies with a person’s favorite genres of stories on TV, film, or books, it may not always, or you may find that a certain way or form of those genres are your niche. To say I grew up reading fantasy is an understatement. Although I read a wider range of genres now, it’s still the backbone of my reading material. I especially enjoy young adult fiction. But that’s not what I write.
General fiction has no interest for me, and so I wouldn’t attempt to write a straight real-world fiction piece. Much of what I’ve written could be read by a young adult, but I also especially enjoy writing about difficult and also mature topics.
If you are highly motivated to write fan fiction, do so. Even serious writers can (and should!) write fan fiction if they want to. I regularly write in the Harry Potter universe, as well as a multiverse of different fandoms in addition to my completely original material. Sometimes these worlds, especially multiverses, open up an entirely new set of possibilities to explore. For instance, I have a Lupa canon character, Miara, that also appears in 2 multiverses, with rather different outcomes as those stories developed. I enjoy all three of them.
I suppose the best thing I can say here is find the things you love, and include them in your writing process, or the writing itself. If you see something that makes you want to write about it, don’t dismiss it. Seek out self-knowledge, and use that understanding of yourself to help motivate you. Some parts are harder than others, but if you really want to keep writing, it is worth it. You never know where it might take you, or what characters and stories discover.
If you know what works well for you, please share. Most writers I know are always looking for more ways to keep writing.