Like many writers, people sometimes ask where I get my ideas. (Well, my boyfriend asked me last week, but nevermind.) I wish I had a clever response, but I don’t know. Really. They tend to just happen. I’ll read the newspaper, walk the kid to school or clean the loo and an idea will just pop into my head. A question, a pondering, a snippet of conversation; before I’m done I’ll have formed an idea. I don’t know if I’m lucky or crazy, but my mind has always worked this way.
Of course, there are times when I need to write something and the right idea is hiding, so here are some things I do to get my brain working:
This is my favourite thing to do. Often, my brain gets messy and by writing everything out, I manage to get it to work creatively again. I just write everything that pops into my head and sooner or later something useful will turn up. Don’t worry about how rubbish the first thoughts are, the little gems usually follow.
Pick a work, any word and then brainstorm. My last Friday Flash was formed this way. I heard Elton John’s ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’ on the radio and picked the word ‘sorry’ for my prompt. After the first few ideas (which were obvious and a little bit rubbish), I came up with the idea which led to my story.
Stop, Look, Listen
I’m nosy by nature, so I can’t help but eavesdrop or people watch. I love Summer when you can wear sunglasses which makes people watching so much easier. I like to write stories which are character based, so watching people’s mannerisms and picking up snippets of conversation really helps me.
What if you’ve got the idea, but you are still stuck? Write. A blank page is daunting, so fill it. Who cares if it’s rubbish, that’s where editing comes in.
I know it sounds easier said than done, but I take this approach with my creative writing and also my assignment writing and it never fails.
So, where do you get your ideas?