Apart from this interactive story that I wrote in late September, I don’t really write anywhere near as much “proper” fiction these days as I used to.
Even so, I sometimes daydream about and/or very occasionally even attempt to write thoroughly random (and probably nowhere near publishable quality) stories for my own private amusement. Sometimes, I even make short comics that come close to publishable quality, like this one:
Anyway, the best projects of this type have a strangely addictive quality to them. When you are writing or drawing one of these projects, it doesn’t even feel like you’re writing or drawing. On an emotional level, it feels more like you’re playing a brilliant videogame or like you’re at the helm of a ship exploring fascinating uncharted territory. In fact, it feels almost spiritual.
When these types of stories and comics go well – spending as much time as possible working on them just doesn’t feel like work of any kind. These are the kinds of creative projects that you can easily lose several hours to if you aren’t careful. These are the kinds of creative projects which feel like watching a DVD boxset of your favourite TV show where, every time you finish an episode, you tell yourself “just one more episode”.
Needless to say, these projects are amazing. But, how do you come up with ideas for these kinds of projects? Here are a few tips:
1) Emotions: Ideally, these kinds of projects are so addictive because they have some kind of emotional payoff to them. Whether it’s paying homage to the many things that you love, whether it’s emotional catharsis, whether it’s total immersion in a fascinating fictional world or whether it’s just trying to make yourself laugh – the best projects cause emotional changes in you when you’re creating them
So, think of an emotion that you’d like to feel. Try to think of a good one like laughter, wish fulfilment, joy, excitement, love, rebellion etc… and then ask yourself “what would make me feel this way?”
Once you’ve come up with an idea –no matter how silly– then see if you can change that idea into something that looks a bit more like a story. Then just throw yourself into it – don’t edit, don’t self-censor, just create. If it starts to look like something that could be publishable, then you can always edit later. If it doesn’t look like something that could be publishable then, if you have the time, just enjoy the experience.
2) Open Ended: One thing I’ve noticed with both private and public projects of this nature is that they’re frequently very open ended. The basic concept of the story or comic is set up in a way which means that it can go in any direction that you want it to (eg: it’s exploratory storytelling).
This means that you never quite feel uninspired because, when writer’s block strikes, you can just start a new part of the story or take the story in a slightly different direction.
A good example of this from my own work would probably be the comic that I mentioned earlier in this article. The basic concept behind it was that the main character inherits an old mansion, on the condition that she stays there for one night. It’s a pretty cliched horror story plot but, because the story revolves around exploring a mysterious house, I had a lot more freedom to take the story in any direction that I wanted.
Although I still experienced some writer’s block when making this project, the fact that literally anything could happen (and it would still fit into the context of the story) really helped a lot. If I got stuck, then I’d just think of something random and try to work out a way to fit it into the comic. So, addictive stories tend to be ones that you can pick up easily and start work on again, even if you have to add something random or change the direction of the story slightly.
3) Daydreams: Everyone has daydreams that make them feel better in some way. Whether it’s a daydream that has been inspired by something you’ve watched or read about or whether it’s a custom daydream that you’ve tailor-made for yourself, creative people tend to daydream a lot. This is a good thing.
One of the easiest ways to start an addictive story or comic is to just put your daydreams down on the page. If they’re interesting and original enough in their own right, then just copy them down directly.
However, if they’re heavily based on other things or if they’re the kind of thing that only really fascinates you, then you may need to make some fairly significant changes – but, as long as you keep the basic elements of the daydream that really fascinate you, then you can tell the kinds of stories that you won’t really want to stop writing.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂