This post follows on from yesterday’s.
Alternative titles: Ten Potential Ways To Generate Shiny New Ideas (If You’re Smart About It) or Ten Mind Numbingly Normal Ways To Generate Ideas
In the beginning, attempting to write outside your comfort zone will not be fun. All your ideas will no doubt be related to genres, themes, and characters you’re comfortable with and when you try to think outside them your mind will inevitably go blank.
You might feel frustrated, fake, and foolish for attempting to try something new though you know, deep down, that this could be the best thing for your writing. So you push on, and give it some more thought.
But you won’t come up with anything, not via your usual methods, you quickly find.
Your usual methods get you your usual ideas which, in this case, are not exactly what you’re after. You want something fresh, exciting, absurd. Something you will enjoy writing; it’s been a while since you’ve found writing anything more than a chore.
Here are some ways you could possibly come across some shiny new ideas:
- Stereomood.com; this is a website I’ve recently been experimenting with. The premise is simple, you go on, type in your mood and it throws out some songs for you to listen to. But how will this give you ideas?
Listen to the lyrics, the tone, the instruments; what are they trying to say?
- Musicovery.com; similar to the above concept, the site is just a little older, I believe, and it lets you go about things in a slightly more visual manner. Again, listen.
- Pinterest.com, an obvious choice; go and look at already established boards. Search things like ‘weird and wonderful’ and see what it comes up with. All it takes is for one image to spark your imagination and you’re off.
Make sure to search for things you usually wouldn’t; don’t usually write historical? Search for that and read the captions, one might just spark a story that you didn’t know you had in you.
- Flickr.com/explore; a specific branch of Flickr that collects the best photos uploaded in the last 24 hours. Again. You’re looking for a spark, spend time looking at all of the photos and imagining yourself into them.
- Unsplash.com; again, this time ten new photos are uploaded every ten days that you can do anything you want with, they’re free. Some of them are absolutely amazing and the possible stories behind them are endless.
That’s essentially what you’re looking for when searching images for inspiration; the stories in the eyes of the men, women, and children photographed or that of the landscape.
- By travelling; be it by foot, car, bus, or train, travel has a way of sparking inspiration like no other. Put your cellphone away, take the music out of your ears, and watch the landscape pass by, listen to the people around you, immerse yourself in life.
- People watching can be an incredibly powerful tool; seek out interesting looking people and imagine their stories. Where do they come from? Where are they going? Why are they doing what they’re doing?
- Dreams, be they in the day or in the night, with closed or open eyes, they might lead to something magical. Get plenty of rest, and in the morning when you wake up try to remember any lingering dreams.
- Dreams of the past; perhaps think back to dreams you’ve had recently or as a child. I know I have a fair few that have almost haunted me since I had them. Do you have any like that? Could you do something with them?
Further, what of the dreams you had of what you’d like to be when you grew up? Did you go through a phase of wanting to be a vet? What could have spurred that on? Did you feel you had a connection with your pet?
- Asking yourself what-ifs; this one is a little more risky as it’s easy to fall into old genres; instead, try to ask yourself silly questions like ‘What if the socks we lose in the laundry are plotting to take over the world?’.
This might all seem quite stupid but it could easily spark something.
When the time is right, an idea will find you, and it will flick a switch within you and you will know its the one when it begins to consume you and all you can think about is this new idea and writing it down.
What do you do to generate new ideas? Or when you’re lacking in ideas and desperately need something new?
The lovely photo (and I truly think it’s wonderful!) used in this post is by the talented Shlomit Wolf.
Extras that didn’t make the cut:
- Drink, and stare into, tea; if there’s one thing tea excels at in particular, it’s being the preferred writing drink of writers that prefer not to get drunk at ten in the morning. And for good reason too, for it will no doubt lead you to new ideas in one way or another.
- Go into writeordie.com; make sure to set the settings on severe and start typing. It might just be gibberish at first, but a story will eventually make its way to your fingertips. So go forth and write!
- Edit: Don’t forget to look at the #MSWL on Twitter! One of those is bound to give you an idea if you’re really stuck!