I'm not so certain one could call this a method so much as an antimethod or an idiosyncratic approach; however, it has evidently worked for a great many years, so who am I to call it into question. This from my nearly annual reading of Dandelion Wine. Yes, I'm aware that the book is about the coming of summer, but for some reason it breathes spring for me and so along with Morte d'Arthur and a couple of others not so frequently repeated, the reading of at least a portion of Dandelion Wine is an annual ritual.
Dandelion Wine (reissue 1992)Ray Bradbury
This book, like most of my books and stories, was a surprise. I began to learn the nature of such surprises, thank God, when I was fairly young as a writer. Before that, like every beginner, I though you could beat, pummel, and thrash an idea into existence. Under such treatment, of course, any decent idea folds up its paws, turns on its back, fixes its eyes on eternity, and dies.It was with great relief, then, that in my early twenties I floundered into a word-association process in which I simply got out of bed each morning, walked to my desk, and put down any word or series of words that happened along in my head.I would then take arms against the word, or for it, and bring on an assortment of characters to weight the word and show me its meaning in my own life. An hour or two hours later, to my amazement, a new story would be finished and done. The surprise was total and lovely. I soon found that I would have to work this way for the rest of my life.First I rummaged my mind for words that could describe my personal nightmares, fear of night and time from my childhood, and shaped stories from these.Then I took a long look at the green apple trees and the old house I was born in and the house next door where lived my grandparents, and all the lawns of the summers I grew up in, and I began to try words for all that. (p. vii)