I can’t deny that coming up with ideas is not a problem for me, it’s the organizing and details that get me bogged down in waist deep muck. However, sometimes you can have too many ideas with more loose connections then you know what to do with, and you lose sight of the bigger picture. Or you get in front of the computer and nothing happens. So how can you harness the flow of ideas to help compensate for the times when your creative juices seem to have gone on vacation?
Start with character, plot and setting. Come up with as many ideas in each section as you can and once you’ve exhausted your imagination take a good look at what you’ve come up with. See if there are any interesting combinations you can make. This is just practice so see if you can push your comfort level. You might have a talking dog in outer space who is seeking his birth mother. Odd and might never work as a story but it lets you play and frees you from restrictions you might be placing on yourself.
It’s always a great idea to carry around a notebook or journal with you at all times. Place one by your bed and jot down interesting dream you’ve had. Put one in your pack or purse and record phrases that come to mind or character ideas. Observe behavior or conversation taking place around you and if anything strikes you, put it in your book. Characters or words that peek your interest in books can also go in there. Toting your journal around and getting into the habit of pulling it out can provide you with fantastic ideas to draw from.
Create a file for news stories that are quirky, interesting, thought provoking, or otherwise “would make a good story”. When you’re ready to start a story, start browsing through our story clip file, and pull out the most thought provoking ideas. This can really lead you to areas you might not have otherwise considered.
Ask yourself interesting “what if” questions. This can get the juices flowing and take you to unexpected places. What if the main character was clinically depressed but worked as a motivational speaker? What if the setting was urban but there was something unique about the way the houses looked? Challenge yourself to generate ideas as they might lead you to somewhere unexpected.
Get out there
Go for a long walk with no music or audio-books, head out to the coffee shop or the mall or set yourself up with a beer at the local pub. Sometimes it helps to leave the space you always write in and change things up. A new setting can equal new ideas.
Regardless of what method you choose it’s important to start jotting down ideas and making connections, developing possible characters, plot twists, conflicts, etc. At some point, you’ll be ready to start developing a new story with loads of ideas.
What do you use to come up with new ideas?