I've been working on a writing project for a couple of months but I haven't actually started writing it yet. This is the first time I've extensively planned out the world, characters, plot events, and other aspects. I can't decide if I like this better than just writing whatever comes to mind.
But I've decided to use all the material I've come up with for my NanoWrimo this year. I've had trouble actually writing the novel and I know that Nano will help me get over this. Last year I just started with an image in my mind and wrote whatever came to mind. This year will be a completely different experience, I think, now that I have pages and pages of ideas and planning.
Part of this planning included a map of my world. This is the first time I've tried to create something so complex and I found that a map really helped. In drawing the land and deciding where the cities should go along with the rivers, forests, plains, and mountains I discovered another way to create. It is one thing to create the world in my mind, but it was so exciting to see it on paper! And having something to look at helped me in planning other aspects of the story.
I've made some changes since the first drawing and I still haven't named all the cities and landmarks, but it's another aspect of writing that I find enjoyable. I realized that plot can be driven by characters, events, or settings. Having a concrete setting for my characters drives them to different decisions and brings about new events in my plot. Very exciting.
So, think of a setting - somewhere in town, or in your house, or the mountains you saw last summer - and write a scene driven by this setting.