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I've written four novels and have several more in various stages of development.
The way I begin is with a seed of an idea. It may be a character, a situation, an event, or even just a title. Titles are more than enough. That seed gives me an idea of the sort of world I need to build, so I spend several weeks doing that. People are products of the world they inhabit, so I always world-build before getting on to characters.
Once I have my main character, I have to go back to world-building, because everyone lives in a microcosm. Then I look at the character and their story, and start working out a plot that will take the character on their journey to resolving their internal struggle, escalating the struggle as it goes.
What I end up with may bear no relation to that original seed - it is often abandoned in favour of the better story that has emerged. That's one reason why I don't care too much about how good or bad a seed idea is.
I write for several reasons:
- I thoroughly enjoy it (the whole process in fact, even the editing!)
- it is cathartic, and helps me manage my medical condition
- I live alone and am unemployable, so it helps pass the time
- I've always had an active, creative mind, and writing stops me stagnating
- I get a kick out of other people enjoying my work
Who knows, maybe I'll be published one day. Maybe I won't, but like the heroines in my stories, I'll either succeed or die trying!
Incidentally, I started writing because I had a story buzzing around in my head for a couple of years, and eventually realised that it wanted to be written. This is always the case, it's the story's decision, not mine. By exploring an idea, I give the story a chance to breathe and to talk to me, and yes, sometimes I abandon an idea and move on to another because the story didn't put up a good enough argument as to why it should be written.