I was chatting with my boss's PA the other day, and she wondered how we scientists keep motivated through failed experiments and frustrations. What drives us? I had to say curiosity. Just as a child will ask why until your brain explodes, a scientist asks a never ending series of whys and hows. It occurred to me that this is just as true for writers.
Some of these questions pertain to the real world, like how does a nuclear reactor work so I can have my main character stop the bad guys from blowing it up? Though, my question today was how do they get those thin orange tubes in place to switch a two lane road into a three lane to accommodate heavy morning traffic? Does someone put them there? Do they pop up automatically? I may have a character who works on the road crew someday, who knows. (by the way, I haven't figured it out yet and it's driving me crazy)
Other questions a writer can ask are what if and what's the motivation. What if that road crew guy decided to mess with those lane markings late one stormy night and cause a massive traffic accident? Why would he do that? Is he a terrorist, a disgruntled divorcee, what?
My favorite question is, what will you do when I do this! I love putting my characters into a new situation and watching what unfolds. They surprise me alot, and that's the best feeling. This bizarre 'channeling' phenomenon is an entirely different topic that I won't go into here, but I think it's akin to having a bunch of imaginary friends.
As with a two year old, in science the predominant question is why. Why do we age? Why do we get cancer? More often, it's why didn't that experiment work? Some times there are no answers, at least not with the current techniques and technologies available. So, most of the time I prefer to ask when can I find some time to write?
Art and science are perfect soul mates. That must be the reason I married an artist. [see curious cat painting above and insert shameless plug for husband's website]