To make a ‘How to Write’ post would be a little pretentious, so instead I’ll try to write about the ways I put my thoughts to paper (or Word document);
1) Do Other Things.
Any aspiring writer will know the feeling of sitting down, determined to enter ‘writing mode’ and focus on nothing but the task of creating. But the human brain doesn’t work that way: with no external stimulus, it is incredibly difficult to just come up with ideas and write them down. ‘Focusing’ on writing is just narrowing your mind, which is what leads to writer’s block. Instead, listen to music as you write, or watch a video, or generally browse, stopping to write a few sentences here and there. Something will eventually catch, and you will find yourself hooked on an idea, writing large amounts without really ‘focusing’ on it.
So, expand your stimuli, but let your ideas run rampant.
2) View Other Media
Remember the phrase ‘A book does not exist in a vacuum‘ – it is influenced by countless other works. Nothing is entirely original, but the more elements you bring into it, the more unique it will be. Don’t try to set up a compendium of related work, as some author do; but instead read and watch new things. Browse media old and modern, and from different countries. Eventually you will find something that resonates with what you want to write.
3) Let Your Characters Act.
When I write a story, I rarely think of how it will end. I let my characters lead the story, behaving as their personality dictates in the world I have created. Following genre conventions for story staging only creates bland, formulaic stories. Don’t bend the character to the story’s demands; let your character and the story bend one-another. This is just another of the conflicts that make an exciting book.
4) Kill Your Darlings.
In other words, be open to criticism, and be prepared to delete your worst passages. Writing is a process of always learning, always improving. Never consider yourself ‘too good’ or above criticism.
This also applies to being ready to let anything happen to your characters. People are not invincible, and plot armour makes for a predictable story. This does not mean you should kill your characters – but be open to the possibility of an unexpected death.
5) Stand Your Ground.
Here’s the tricky part. Though you should be willing to change any aspect of your book if it indeed makes an improvement, you should be ready to argue your case against those who ‘don’t get it’, or stand up to those who wish you were writing something else. Nobody can tell you not to write something – if you want to write it, then it is the best thing you could possibly write.