So you’ve committed to writing a novel with me this year — welcome to January: Writing Ideas. Some of you already have an idea you’ve been dying to write, others might need a bit of help. Whichever you are, January is going to give you tricks and tips on finding ideas as well as how to determine which ideas are keepers and which are not!
Today’s post is about writing idea generation: how to kickstart your imagination and train it to churn out story ideas with ease. Let’s start with something really easy — paying attention.
So many of my ideas come to me while I’m working out, walking, listening to an audiobook, driving the car or even watching a show. I’ll bet they come to you, too, but you don’t even notice them because you’re not trained to pay attention. If you’re a creative person (and you must be, because you’re a writer!) you get ideas about all kinds of things buzzing through your brain at the speed of light. You see them, think, “Hey, that’s interesting.” and then move on to the next thing.
Start paying attention to every idea your mind hands you–even if the idea seems silly. You never know when some little nugget of creativity is going to blossom into a full-blown novel.
The problem with most of these ideas is, even if you pay attention, you forget them fast, especially since there are so many.
I never realized how many writing ideas I had until I started keeping track of them.
I listen to audiobooks on my daily walks and generate an average of at least three ideas just from a one-hour walk/listen. How awesome is that? Once I started recording them, I realized my walk was a goldmine!
I use a simple voice recording app on my phone to make note of ideas so I don’t have to slow down or stop to type. Same thing when I’m in the car. But if I’m reading, watching TV or out with friends and inspiration strikes, I’ll open my Evernote app and record the writing idea under a specific category (blog, fiction, non-fiction).
I can’t say enough about Evernote. It’s seamless across all my devices: phone, laptop, iPad and desktop computer and keeps all my thoughts at my fingertips. I can even clip photos and other inspiration from the web–great for writing ideas that strike while you’re browsing online.
You don’t have to use Evernote, though. The “Notes” app on your phone will do, as will good old pen and paper. Buy a tiny spiral notebook to keep in your pocket or purse with a small pen that slips through the spiral or clips on. No excuses!
The Writing Jar method of finding ideas (for more information, click here) takes what you learned above a tiny step further, helping preserve your ideas and boost your creativity when it’s flagging.
You can also find writing prompts in various places online. One of my favorites is the Reedsy site which recently put all of its weekly writing prompts in one convenient place. Searching Pinterest for writing prompts turns up a lot of good stuff, too.
Another way to get creative is to let pictures be your writing idea prompt. If you’re a visual person, this will really appeal. Good places to find pictures to ponder are Pexels and Pixabay. Best of all, the photos are free so if one strikes a creative chord, download it or save it to Evernote.
If you’re really stuck, there’s one technique I’ve used with great success. I call it the “Why?”
Here’s how it works: Say you’re looking at a photo of a girl walking on the beach in a dress with flowers in her hand and no ideas are coming to you. Simply ask “why?” about something in the photo.
For example, “Why is she wearing a white dress at the beach?” Maybe it’s her wedding day and she was afraid to say “I do” so she ran to the beach. “Why is she carrying flowers? Maybe her husband, a ship’s captain, gave them to her before he left on a long sea voyage. “Why would someone walk on the beach when there’s obviously a storm coming in?” Maybe she’s a priestess and she’s conjuring the sea god Neptune to do her bidding and remove her rival for the affections of a young prince.
See how fun and easy that is?
If you don’t already have an idea for your novel, experiment with one or more of these techniques and have one ready for next week. If you already have an idea, use these to generate even more!
Feel free to tell me your ideas in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
See you on the next page!