Writers, Where Do You Find Ideas?

Posted on: November 19, 2010

Writers Are Always Looking for a Good Idea or Angle

Writers Are Always Looking for a Good Idea or Angle

As we consider all the things for which we can be thankful during the Thanksgiving holiday, writers in every field and genre will give thanks for finding that new idea or a fresh angle on it. Which writer, in passing the cranberry sauce or savoring a bite of pumpkin pie, will not sigh in relief at having tackled a project and successfully wrestled it into a form that delighted a reader, a client or an editor?

As we look beyond the oncoming holidays and over the winter horizon, we writers anticipate our next projects and assignments with pleasure, even as we hope our “idea well” does not run dry.

In the spirit of holiday sharing and giving, then, here are some of the methods I use to keep ideas flowing.

  • Practice “stream of consciousness” writing to jog ideas loose.
  • Read news websites.
  • Read blogs.
  • Read and participate in online discussion forums.
  • Search a topic, and then visit at least 10 of the sites that appear in the results list.
  • Engage in conversation with colleagues.
  • Read a wide variety of magazines, newspapers, and other publications.
  • Talk with family.
  • Talk with friends.
  • Read product literature.
  • Research a topic formally to learn the details and find out what the experts have to say.
  • Read textbooks on the subject.
  • Make diagrams as you read, to juxtapose topic points and make new associations.
  • Take part in brainstorming sessions.
  • Read encyclopedias, dictionaries and thesauruses.
  • Make time for meditation.
  • Ask yourself random questions, and take notes.
  • Write down ideas that pop into your head as you go about other activities.
  • Attend seminars and lectures.
  • Take one or more classes.
  • Look at photos, randomly or categorized by subject.
  • Keep a running outline and list every point you want to make as you work through a “big idea.”
  • Find out what people want to know about a particular topic.
  • Surf the net to “shake it up.”
  • Browse through bookstores and libraries – you never know what you’ll run across.
  • Practice taking a subject and seeing how many ways you can spin it for niche audiences.
  • Get out and about; have experiences, go on adventures and engage in activities.
  • Mine your own life experiences: What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing?
  • Use “freewriting” to spark ideas: Set a timer for, say, 10 minutes, and then just write. Write anything. Just keep writing until the timer goes off.
  • Read your work out loud.
  • Find your plinth, and then stand on it. This means establish your subject, or angle on it, and then focus relentlessly on it (especially useful for short pieces).
  • Visit “question websites” (writing-prompt generators) to find questions to use as writing prompts.
  • Listen to music lyrics from various musical genres to help jump-start your creative engine.
  • Keep an idea notebook.

How do you generate ideas and new perspectives on them? What helps you write?

Share your tricks of the trade—we’d all love to hear your story. Thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas



1 Response to "Writers, Where Do You Find Ideas?"

Ideas are easy. The hard part is putting one word after another until you get to the end.

Not mine, sorry – stolen fron Neil Gaiman. True though.

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