think you can train your brain to do a number of things. People who don’t read look at people who do as having some strange arcane powers, that sitting still for 300 pages is extraordinary. So, yes, I’ve trained myself to stick with it, through thick and thin. I’m like a book shredder now. This isn’t much I can’t break down.
Creativity is the same sort of thing. Over years of scripting RPGs, writing plots, developing model train time tables and coding games, I’ve trained myself to be able to think solutions. When I write a short story, I think of a number of things (often simultaneously). Things like:
1) What is the overall point of this story? Why am I even writing it?
2) What is an interesting hook to get the story going?
3) What would an interesting character be? What simple traits can be used to describe him?
4) How should the story develop? How much space to I have?
5) What cadence am I writing in? Fast? Show? Short words? Long?
There are all sorts of others points but these are the primary things I think of, milling around and around these points. If my character is jittery (point 3) then I should write in short fast words (point 5). It’s like Legos – I look at what colors and sizes I have, think about what I’d like to make, and figure out how it all will go together.
One trick I use (in game design) is to look at development in terms of two questions:
1) What real world thing do I wish to make into some sort of game feature?
2) What game feature would I like to incorporate and how can I explain it in terms of the real world?
For example, if I’m making a game about players flying around as crows, I might say I want to include hawks as a danger and from a point 1 aspect, I’ll need to add some form of air combat. Or possibly I’d look at point 2 and say I’d like to include air combat, and for that, I need hawks. So in terms of writing, possibly your two simultaneous steps of creativity would be:
1) What real world thing do I wish to add to my story?
2) What story element do I want, and how can it exist in the real world my story takes place in?
Approaching stories from a mega-creative methodology can keep you from staring at an empty computer screen, wondering why you can’t write about anything. Good luck!
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