Get ideas for writing
Another reader question: “Where can I get ideas for writing?”
Anywhere and everywhere. That’s the short answer.
The long answer is… Anywhere and everywhere:
- the nightly news stories
- books you read
- songs you hear
- idiosyncracies of people you know
- watching people in the mall
- sermons or homilies
- newspaper headlines
- shopping trips
- products you see in the store
- things that happen to you
- crafts you make
- foods you eat
- your dreams (both waking and sleeping)
- figures of speech
- creativity exercises (more about those later)
- television and movies
- radio shows and podcasts
- sunrises and sunsets
- watching a candle flame
- scrolling through a stock photo site
- sitting in traffic
- things that trigger emotions in yourself or others
- hospitals, museums, libraries (anywhere that you go, really)
- fears (no one wants ___ to happen to them)
- walking outdoors
- your headphones: letting your mind wander while you listen to nature sounds, a fountain, or a crackling fire
- the grocery store (I just made a typo and wrote “the grocery story.” I corrected it, but that could be an idea–what if you wrote about the grocery story–from country farm to corner store? See what I mean about ideas being anywhere and everywhere?)
Okay, so that’s 30. Deliver more than you promise, right?
Get ideas for writing
What I suspect is that your problem isn’t a lack of knowledge regarding how to get ideas for writing, at least not most of the time. Almost every writer has a head FULL of ideas. A little-known fact is that their heads may even begin to smoke, like this, from idea overload.
Having enough ideas for writing is important, and some writers keep entire notebooks full of potential article titles or snippets of scenes. This has the potential for being dangerous, however: they can become so overwhelmed with all the ideas they have that they never get around to completing anything.
The real problem is not how to get ideas for writing, but deciding which one to write about next. The real question, then, is “How do I know what to write about first?”
That will depend in part on whether or not you have an assignment or if you are the sole determiner of what to write next. If you have an assignment and someone else determines what you need to write, you don’t need topic ideas, you just need motivation, and you might need some inspiration.
Get creative to get more ideas
You might try combining two unrelated things and see what you come up with. Roger von Oech has creativity-stimulating exercises in his books A Whack on the Side of the Head, and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants. His books are classics, mainstays in the library of all kinds of creative people.
There are also creativity card decks on the market now like these storyteller cards. If you don’t have the cash (I know, right now those are only ten bucks, but I know how it can be for Creatives: sometimes you don’t have ten bucks), you can make your own set of creativity cards to use to trigger your imagination.
If you’re choosing your own topic, you can try using writing prompts.
Take a look around you and jot down five ideas it would be possible to use in something you write now or in the future. What sparked your ideas? Feel free to share in the comments.