Saturday, April 18, 2015

Generating Writing Ideas

Spring is a great time to clean out your idea files but sometimes ideas seem to elude even the best writers. They hide beneath the surface like flower bulbs planted in the fall seeming to be forgotten. How is it then a writer can cultivate that which has been forgotten and come up with new and fresh ideas when it is time to sit down and write. Like a well groomed garden it takes some planning. Here is my take on that process.
  • It has been said by writing masters wiser than I that it is imperative to jot down ideas as they come to you.  To do that takes nothing more than a pen and notepad though I wager to say most writers depend on technology to record their snippets. Pick your device and heed to the advice. Write it down as it comes to you, least you forget.
  • Keep a file drawer. Alphabetically, organized by topic, on neon 3 x 5 cards or on plain 3 x 5 cards, or on those pretend sticky notes on your cell phone.... keep an idea file. I like to put similar ideas together for informative E-Book possibilities or serial blog post topics. I also keep a file of character names, another for cool places that might make a great setting for a story or novel, and a file for my bucket list of " I want to write this" before I die. Read the newspaper or watch the news for current political topics but also for ideas on fashion, weather, or community and make a file. When my ideas seem to have disappeared into thin air, I can review a file and usually the creative juices start flowing again.
  • Decide what you want to write and where you wish to be published. This is important if you are not well known yet and don't have a huge author platform. Concentrate on gathering all important information on these few publishers, magazines, or websites initially so your writing ideas and submissions can be targeted specifically. Target audiences, target markets, and targeting your ideas to a specific topic will increase your chances of getting an acceptance and will help to guide your writing. Hopefully as you write, submit, and publish more frequently the ideas will flow easier and but the process will be the same. Gathering info, honing your idea, and submitting to the most likely publisher will become second nature.
  • Rest. Giving your mind a break by doing something other than writing can also help you to generate ideas. A walk in the woods, a nap, listening to music, painting, sewing, or just sitting quietly listening to nature can give your mind the pause it needs to rejuvenate.
  • Keep your body healthy. Eat well, drink plenty of water, and nurture your spiritual side will also help you to keep the writing ideas flowing. Poor health, pain, suffering, and feeling tired will make generating ideas seem more difficult.
Last but not least and what happens to me more often than not is this:  I loose my pencil, can't find a piece of paper in my purse to save my soul, I am driving in traffic or taking a shower and that's  when  my best ideas come to me. Then I must resort to repeating the idea to myself, calling my cell phone and leaving a voice mail, or ( and oh how I hate to put this in writing) I resort to using an eye liner or lip stick on the bathroom mirror to jot down that key word or two so I surely won't forget.

Ideas really are all around us. And like those bulbs hidden in the dirt last season, come spring when we most need to refresh, our ideas can be cultivated and reworked, organized and nurtured into full blown sprouting gardens of words and sentences that will entertain, educate, and touch our readers.
How do you get your ideas? Share a secret or two from your writing experiences won't you?

Terri Forehand writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana where she lives with her husband and several rescue dogs and cats. She is the author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and The Cancer Prayer Book for adults. She is currently working on 61 Tips for Parents of Kids with Cancer.


Shirley Corder said...

Some good thoughts, Terri. Of course, for some of us it's not Spring--we're heading into Winter, but it's always a good thing to keep track of those markets and ideas.

Linda Wilson said...

Terri, I love your post, especially the last resorts. I've been in that place so many times, writing on the back of toothpick holders, etc., when there's not a slip of paper anywhere. But, I never thought of calling my cell phone. Thanks! Next time I get desperate I will try that! Right now I have lots of little notes all over my desk that need sweeping up and organizing. It seems to be my process because I come to this juncture often and have to stop and regroup. Maybe that's a good thing. I like the rest part, too. I took a break this week to write my post coming up and lots of ideas have come to me for my WIPs and for brand new works. Rest is good, too!

Karen Cioffi said...

Terri, great tips for writing ideas. You can also use your Notes feature in your Cell phone when an idea pops into your head and you don't have paper.

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