Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/ young adult fantasy writer who hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. She is an SCBWI-LA Board member, and the founder of the Torrance Children’s Book Writers (which will become the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles starting January, 2012). A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include photography, travel, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino martial art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies.
Take it away, Nutschell!
As storytellers we are creative by nature. We can build worlds that inspire the imagination, create characters that readers fall in love with, give words to feelings that often go undefined, and weave stories that live on long after we’re gone.
People might think of us as magical beings who can pull stories from thin air and spin them into best-selling novels in three days. But the truth is that we are human beings who live normal lives, and have the same problem with time and money as everyone else.
We write whenever we can, wherever we can—and we also write whatever we can. We dabble in poetry, try our hand essays and screenplays, and fill our notebooks with unfinished novels.
Sometimes, we encounter the dreaded writer’s block and we run out of things to say. We run out of topics and story ideas, and yet we still continue to write. We make lists just to have something to write. We write notes and letters, type text messages, and tweets all because we can’t stop our fingers from doing what we know we were born to do—write and tell stories.
In order for our writing to be worth our time, and to be of any importance to the world, however, we must come up with stories that matter not only to us, but to others as well. We have to come up with a story that’s worth writing.
How do we do this? Where do we get these worthy story ideas?
The great Judy Blume, at the SCBWI Summer Conference, said, “I write on the day something happens.”
In order to come up with story-worthy ideas, we have to leave the comfort of our desks, break the cycle of our dreary routines, and make something happen. Tasting an exotic new dish, trying out a new scent, listening to music we normally avoid, reading books of different genres, even watching movies made long before our time, are all great ways of inspiring our creative minds.
Local events happen daily—book signings, street fairs, farmers markets, concerts, lectures, parties, random soccer matches. We can invite friends and family to attend any of these with us. They’ll be happy for a change in scenery, and we might get great ideas just by experiencing something new.
If there’s nothing going in our neck of the woods, we could create our own event. We can pick up a map of our city and explore areas that seem interesting, or that have some historical significance. We could do an activity we’ve never tried before. A visit to a local psychic might yield some interesting mystery or fantasy story ideas. Going on a hot-air balloon ride, or kayaking might spur an adventure story. Attending a renaissance fairs, wine-tasting events, or taking self-guided tours to a nearby historical site (or even around our neighborhood) might give us ideas for that historical novel we’ve always wanted to write.
We must always be on the look out for sensory experiences that spark electric ideas.
Conversations heard on subway rides could become dialogues in our novels, the smell of a stranger’s sour breath, or her sweet perfume might trigger a memory in our minds that turns into a story, someone’s unconscious habit of twiddling her thumbs could become a character’s quirk.
Story ideas come from all around us. We gather them from our own memories, events we live through, people we meet or see on the streets, books we read, movies and TV shows we watch, or strong emotions we feel. The more we experience, the deeper our well of ideas become.
So go ahead and seize every opportunity to discover the joys of life. Make something happen—then write.
The best way to come up with story-worthy ideas is to live a story-worthy life.
***My special thanks to the wonderful Mish having me here today, and to you all for stopping by to read my ramblings.
Thanks for such a fitting end to GPF 2011, Nutschell.
So... Have you ever given something new a try just to stimulate your muse?
Then I have another question. Have you enjoyed GPF? Think I should let it continue next year?