Imagination is the key.
As long as I can remember I’ve essentially sung myself to sleep with a story. It’s like this:
I write a story in my mind and I feature myself as the heroine. So easy to do!
The easiest way to begin is to pick a story, any story you like provided it is a heroic story, as in I want you to take a hero’s journey. I’ll make it even easier. If you like romance, pick Outlander. If you like science fiction pick, um… Stranger In A Strange Land, or The Illustrated Man, or, oh… super easy– Battlestar Galactica.
Remove the protagonist, male or female. Substitute yourself in his or her place and imaginarily write away! Rewrite the narrative in your head featuring you! I’m not encouraging you to actually write fanfic. I’m not a fan of fanfic. What I am suggesting is that you learn from the greats.
Become John Blackthorn of Shogun. Starbuck (the female version) of BSG. (One of the Sharons would be even better!) Jon Snow of GOT. Become Jane Eyre of Jane Eyre. But write your own narrative. Change things up. Stir the pot!
The stories we put on paper grow out of the stories we hear in our heads. Don’t be derivative! But at the same time keep in mind there is nothing new under the sun. Certain universal themes are recycled over and over again by countless authors and there is a reason for this. Universal themes resonate with readers. The trick is to spin your own unique version of these universal themes.
Oh, and read The Hero With A Thousand Faces, The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell. Yeah, slog through it. (It really ain’t no slog!) At the heart of every story lies the hero’s journey. Your characters must move forward, face challenges, and evolve, either for good or for evil. If they do nothing more than spin their wheels, take up page space, they are doomed to forever be labeled as boring. Nothing kills a book like boring.
Oh, an no whining. Whiny characters do nothing more than annoy readers.
So, as a mental exercise, pick your favorite book. Remove protagonist. Insert you. Go for it.