There is no definitive answer to this question, but lately I have started to think more about this particular conundrum myself. As some of you know, I finished the first draft of my novel about a week ago, and one advice I’ve heard repeatedly from other authors, is that you should always let the script rest for some time. Try and forget about it and get some distance, so you can tackle it with a set of fresh eyes when the time for editing begins.
In my case, I often find that a story comes to me in the shape of a first line – the absolute first thing that hits the reader when opening up a book. I’m talking about what is commonly known as the “hook”.
This can happen anytime, anywhere really. Right before I fall asleep, or while commuting on the train on my way to work. One factor that seems to be consistent, is the fact that it mostly happens when I have no other real distractions; no video games, no series, no TV. Music is fine, because in my case it actually awakes my imagination and gets the brain working.
When a story idea hits me, I quickly scribble it down on my phone or in a small notepad I carry in my jacket. (Always wearing a notepad and a pencil is a must.) But sometimes I hesitate, and don’t fully accept the idea right away. When that’s the case, I don’t write it down. I believe that if it’s really a good idea, it will come back to me again, not leaving me alone. If not: then it probably wasn’t worth my time.
I think every story has bits and pieces of the author in it. We have all experienced different things that has shaped who we are, and even though it might be hard to pinpoint exactly what part of an author’s life actually translates to the words on the page, the text is still imbued with who the author is as a person.
As I suggested earlier, there is no definite answer to this question. There is most likely as many different answers to this question, as there are writers. In my case, I have always made things up. I find this world boring, so I make shit up that excites me, and can hopefully excite others.
That’s who I am. I make up stuff out of my head.