Working with and Past Stereotypes
“Write what you know” is a common phrase people hear when starting out, but at some point every writer is creating characters different from themselves; people from different parts of the world, different professions, cultures, and personalities, not to mention the fact that half the world is a different gender.
Some writers start their creative process with character creation and then build plot and setting around the character(s), other writers begin with plot or setting and then populate it with characters. Regardless of where a writer is in the creative process, there are generally four techniques they can use to create new characters: real life, adapted from real life, concepts, or goals.
On a basic level all stories are a combination of 4 components; characters, a plot, a setting, and one or more ideas, which in this case refer to the underlying questions being explored. Ideas can be as simple as “how will the protagonist accomplish their goal”, or as complex as the purpose or meaning of life.
Use What You Have
Most stories start small; a character, a conflict, an interesting place. Whichever piece you have, start with that and build out.
Finding the Time
Choose how you’re going to write, whether you prefer to carry a pen and notebook, a recorder to speak into, or a portable computer or smart phone that you can type with. Make sure that whatever you choose fits your needs. It should be small enough for you to comfortably carry it with you and it should be your preferred method or medium for writing. With portable tools you can write anywhere; while waiting for an appointment or meeting, during a break or intermission, or when inspiration randomly strikes.