I think it’s great that we have the internet now, so anyone can look up anything and learn something. For instance, because I have access to a computer and the internet, I can look up any topic on writing and find something about it. Or just let YouTube suggest it for me.
I definitely haven’t talked about this enough even though this is a skill I use all the time. This is my skill when it comes to creating stories. People ask me what I do, and I honestly tell them day dream, become distracted.
And yet, it’s hard for me to put into words what happens when I day dream, which I find this video does a good job of breaking into a skill.
When I’m thinking about a story, it roils in my mind, disturbing any train of thought with a single line of distraction that balloons into this series of webs and tangents, eventually twisting back together to create a singular thread that will take me back to a final outcome.
For instance…I’m working on this new story of mine, and the characters, while defined, seem to be working pieces of art. While I have that image of the character in my mind, they’re alive. They speak. They have a voice. Which I believe is true for any author. When you write often enough, your characters come to life, and writing their story is simple because you’re simply the conduit that they speak through. But this is after time. After daydreaming. After training.
You must first become comfortable with gazing into a distance.
You have to be able to zone out and picture a setting in your head. Who’s there? What are they doing?
And the most important part: There must be conflict, and there must be something you’re interested in. It doesn’t matter if it’s an internal struggle, or a physical disturbance. There must be something that bothers you and your character and keeps you interested enough to follow a possible scenario from beginning to end.
This is what I call zoning out.
It comes from practicing skills, like the video mentioned: eavesdropping, observing, imagining. These are truly anti-social skills because this is something you have to practice by yourself. But they don’t all have to be.
When you’re knew, it helps to bounce ideas off a friend, maybe a fellow writer. Observe people in a public place. What do they do? What makes them upset? What makes you upset?
The whole idea is if you practice enough, if your character feels real enough that they’ve developed a body and voice, scenes will come easy. Dialogue will come easy. Reactions will come easy. But it all takes practice. And I’m sorry this skill isn’t any easier to learn.