You need to draw ideas for your writing from your everyday lives and experiences. For you to come up with great ideas, you need to be open to them. You would be surprised at the number of ideas you can come up with just walking to your local shop – but you need to be open to them. Here are a few notes on how you can get more great ideas for your writing, and how you can open yourself up to them.
Keeping a Notebook
This is one of the most important rules of being a good writer. Your notebook/journal is your most important tool, and you must use it regularly. Think of how many times you have thought of a good idea, but when you sat down to write, you found you couldn’t remember what it was. Having a notebook handy at all times means that you can jot down ideas, conversations, and quotes, which you can go back to, whenever you need to.
Keeping Newspaper Clippings
If you switch to writing mode when reading the daily newspaper, you will notice all sorts of writing ideas. From a short story and novel ideas to article starters – just cut out the clipping. You can either stick it into your journal or have a separate folder for newspaper clippings. This way, whenever you are short on ideas, you can read through them and have something to start you off.
It’s always a good idea to record snippets of overheard conversation. This is an excellent way of collecting ideas. You could use that piece of communication you heard on the bus last week as a story starter – or it could even give you an idea for an entire novel.
Having lots of character profiles in your notebook is a way of ensuring you don’t run out of ideas. Just take a character and write a short scene with him/her as the main character. It might give you an idea for a short story using the character, or even a full-length novel based on the character’s life. See the previous article on how to write a character profile.
A picture tells a thousand words. Try collecting pictures from magazines, online or newspapers. Keep them in a folder, and when you’re short of ideas, choose one and write about it. Set yourself a word count and stick to it at first. If you feel compelled to write more – do so.
Stick to a Writing Routine
This is not essential, but if you stick to a regular writing routine, you are sure to have better quality ideas. Your brain will become accustomed to writing regularly, and you will be more open to ideas you would frequently have missed. To put it just, you will be thinking like a writer.
You will find that most writing competitions give you a theme or prompt to write from. You can either follow the rules of the competition and submit your entry, or use that theme/prompt and give it your original twist. You can find writing competitions online or in writing magazines. Ask your local library for information on local writing competitions.
Experiment with Style and Genre
You never know what you can do until you try. If you usually write chick-lit style short stories, why not try your hand at horror writing or article writing?
Changing projects is an excellent way of refreshing your work and giving yourself a break. You’ll come up with lots of ideas for future projects.
Don’t stick within your usual comfort zone – Experiment!
Just remember – to come up with lots of great ideas, you have to think like a writer. Not only when you are writing, but when you’re going about your everyday business.