How to stay inspired.
Writer’s block is probably the most frustrating experience any writer faces. You feel creative and you want to create, but you’re just not inspired.
It happens to most artists from time to time, this disconnect from the muse. Yet there are creative people who seem to have overcome artistic roadblocks — authors who publish multiple novels every year, filmmakers who produce annual blockbusters, and musicians who are on the top-ten list week after week. They know how to stay inspired, but how do they do it? Have they tapped into a secret, endless stream of ideas?
How can you tap into that stream? Read More
Where to find awesome writing ideas.
We look high. We look low. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been looking forever and will keep looking forever more.
Ideas. They’re out there and we know it. But where are they hiding? Why do they keep escaping us? How can we catch them?
Writing ideas are not always easy to come by. Most ideas get tossed aside because they’re not original or interesting enough. So we constantly search for ideas that will capture our imaginations and keep us happily tapping away on our keyboards.
Not every writer is on this quest. Some writers are overwhelmed with inspiration and can’t find enough time to realize every brilliant idea. The rest of us are always on the lookout for exciting writing ideas to add to our inspiration archives. Read More
Where do you get your writing ideas?
Do writing ideas just fall out of the sky? Is it reasonable to sit around waiting for a great idea to land on your lap, so you can write the next big bestseller?
I don’t think so.
When it comes to developing worthwhile writing ideas, it’s either feast or famine for most of us. Some writers have so many ideas, we can’t decide which one to pursue. Other writers struggle to find something worth writing about; they don’t have enough ideas. Read More
Unusual writing ideas.
When we think about writing ideas, what usually comes to mind are characters, plots, scenes, language, and images.
Ideas almost always have to do with concepts and matters of the mind, but what about the physical act of writing?
Most of us write at our computers, and many of us still use good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Isn’t it Ordinary?
It’s all rather ordinary and limiting — always sitting in the same position and using the same tools — day in and day out. Creativity gets stale with too much routine. Sure, you can take breaks. There are lots of writing tips that recommend getting out for some exercise and socializing, and there are plenty of creativity tips that help you think in new ways.
What about writing ideas that get you moving and positioning your body in new ways? Or touching different textures and being in an environment that’s nothing like your usual surroundings?
Get off that chair, step away from your desk, and try standing or crouching. Put yourself into a different environment — leave the office and go outside. Lie on your stomach in the grass and scratch words, carve them, paint them, and let the stimuli of your surroundings and the tools in your hand gently guide your mind, your muse, your creativity to a new dimension.
Unusual Writing Ideas
These eighteen writing ideas are definitely unusual, and unlike most ideas, they don’t happen inside your head. You’ll make them happen with your body, your surroundings, and the tools you’re writing with.
- 1. Supersize it
- Get some extra-large, over-sized paper and sprawl out somewhere — like in the grass or on the floor. Instead of typing or writing in the limited space of your computer monitor or notebook, use pens and pencils, and write until you fill up the entire sheet. Use big, enormous letters or itty bitty ones. Either way, it’s going to feel a lot different from what you’re used to.
- 2. Colored Markers
- A pack of colored markers doesn’t cost much, and once you’ve got them, you can use them to write on that over-sized paper, and that makes the previous idea a lot more fun. Putting down your words in color might spark fresh writing ideas, so use your markers to write in your notebook or journal, on sticky notes, and even on scratch paper when you’re jotting down concepts.
- 3. Speaking of Sticky Notes…
- Try writing different parts of a story or poem on sticky notes. Limit yourself to a few words (for poetry) or just a line or two (for prose). On each sticky note, write a line of dialogue or some basic action (she walked toward the door). You’ll be writing in a tiny space, and that will make you choose your words more carefully. When you’re done, you can have fun patching all the sticky notes together to complete your piece.
- 4. Chalk it Up
- Actually, chalk it down. Most department and toy stores sell big buckets of large, thick sidewalk chalk which is perfect for marking up sidewalks and driveways. This is a fun exercise to do with the kids, by the way. Chalk a poem or a piece of flash fiction. If you want to save it, take a photo before washing it all away.
- 5. Stand and Deliver
- There are lots of ways you can write while standing. You can stand at a counter, for example, and write in your notebook, but that’s not very unusual. In addition to standing, try writing on a flat, vertical surface. Tape paper to a wall, door, or window and then let your words flow. You can also use an easel or a whiteboard for this one.
- 6. Lie in the Grass
- The trick is lie directly on the grass. Do not use a blanket or a towel — make contact with the green. The idea is to physically connect with a texture you’re not used to. If the grass is too damp or dirty for you, then try this on sand or pavement (I bet the pavement’s WAY dirtier than the grass). The important thing is to be outdoors, lying down, and writing.
- 7. Paint Your Words
- You don’t need fancy paints or paintbrushes — a cheap set of watercolors from the school supply aisle will do. You might want to use that over-sized paper for this one. Paint your story or poem instead of writing it, and if the mood strikes (and you’re feeling artistic), get some images in there too — or just let the colors run and see what happens to your words.
- 8. Get Old School
- Use a fountain pen and an inkwell (yes, they still make this stuff) and find out what it was like to be a writer hundreds of years ago. Remember, some of the greatest writers in history did it this way — dipping their nibs into the ink: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Emily Dickinson. If they could do it, you can too!
- 9. Scratching on Crayon
- This an old trick that school-aged kids love: Use pastel crayons to color in an entire sheet of paper. You can use a solid color, make rainbows, big bubbles, or stripes. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. When you’re done, go over the whole thing with the black crayon until it’s solid black. Now, you can use your fingernail to write by scratching off the black layer, and voila! Your writing reveals a rainbow of color beneath.
- 10. Ambidexterity
- Are you right-handed? Write with your left hand. Left-handed? Use your right. It feels awkward at first, but if you concentrate, you should be able to scrawl something legible using your opposite hand (yes, I know this because I have actually done some of these crazy things. What? You think I make this stuff up?).
- 11. Stay at Your Computer
- Okay, so you want to switch things up, but you just can’t pry yourself away from your beloved computer. You can still get creative. Try writing in white text on a black background. Or try lime green on a dark purple background. Mix up your colors, make them bold or put them in italics, and get busy writing.
- 12. And if You Want to Get Really Fancy…
- Still don’t want to leave your computer? Go find some unusual fonts and write with those. Try script fonts or big, bold fonts, and put them into different sizes.
- 13. Eat Your Words
- Remember Alpha-Bits cereal? What about Alphabet Soup? You can use food to write! I confess, I haven’t tried this one and it could get messy. It might also be difficult — if you keep eating your letters, you won’t have anything to write with.
- 14. Wear Your Words
- If you can eat your words, you might as well wear them. All you need is a Sharpie (better yet, try some colored Sharpies) and a cheap, white tee shirt. Stretch the fabric around something firm, and start writing. Hey, if you ever become a world-famous novelist, that t-shirt is going to be worth big bucks!
- 15. Make a Mural
- You can buy rolls of paper at art supply stores and even at home improvement stores. Roll it out and attach it to the wall. Masking tape works well for this, and a good place for this activity is on a garage door. Now you’re really mixing things up; you’re standing, writing on over-sized paper, and as an added bonus, you can get out your colored markers or paints and really liven things up.
- 16. Revisit Your Childhood
- Earlier I mentioned writing with paints and paintbrushes. Try doing it with finger paints (I bet you’re going to need that over-sized paper for this one). You’ll probably get dirty, so dress accordingly. This is another great one to do with kids. Leave yourself some time to take a shower afterward.
- 17. Carvings
- You’d be surprised at all the things you can carve — pieces of firewood, a candle, your kitchen table. I’m kidding. Don’t wreck your kitchen table. But carving words slows down the writing process, which means you’ll put more thought into what you’re saying and you’ll take greater care with your grammar. Use a knife, an awl, or some other sharp instrument to whittle your tale.
- 18. Shoeboxes
- I recently helped a dear friend clean out her closet. She had some old stuff in there, like a cardboard shoebox in which we’d written a story some twelve years ago. We had used nothing more than a cardboard box and a ball point pen (we should have used a Sharpie), and here it was, over a decade later, hidden behind a pair of old sneakers. This one’s my favorite, and that’s why I saved it for last.
I’m sure there’s some scientific reasoning that explains why these activities turn up the heat on creativity. I’m no scientist, but I do know when my own creativity is in high gear. I have actually tried several of these unusual and quirky writing ideas and techniques, and I clearly recall that they got me thinking in different ways. I almost always came up with things to write about that otherwise never would have occurred to me.
So try a few of these out for yourself. Give yourself about 20-30 minutes so you have enough time to settle into the writing activity, and then see what happens.
Do you have any unusual writing ideas to add to this list? If you think of any other strange ways to write, leave your ideas in the comments.
Play and pretend your way to writing ideas
My little niece used to love to sit with a grown-up book spread across her lap, reading a story out loud — except she couldn’t read yet. She was making it all up — pretending.
During play, she invented new words. One time we were playing with some toys, and I asked one of their names. Without missing a beat, she made up the name Hoken. Hoken sounds to me like a great name for a character in a science fiction or fantasy story.
Play and pretend can lead to some innovative writing ideas, whether you’re looking for a simple concept for starting a new writing project or trying to break through a block in a project that you’re already working on.
The Quest for Concepts
Through play and pretend, children learn about themselves and their environment. You’d think that with all that practice, adults would have even better imaginations than children, but that’s not the case. Kids will engage their imaginations with hardly any effort. They don’t stop to think or reason, they just react intuitively.
The first time I asked my niece who put the moon in the sky, she said, “You did.” And when I asked my nephew the same question, his response was “Peter Pan.” Sometimes, it’s mommy or daddy who put the moon the sky. Sometimes, it’s Batman. Kids aren’t confined by rules, science, or belief systems. They are delightfully visceral.
When I’m playing with my niece and nephew, I get tons of writing ideas: a story about someone who put the moon in the sky, maybe a superhero named Hoken who can fly.
If we grown-ups could shake off the realities we’ve all come to accept about the world, and if we could learn to play freely, without rules or limitations, then we could unearth an endless fountain of ideas and inspiration.
Breakthrough Writing Ideas
I recently got stuck in a story that I was working on. The characters were in the middle of a conflict, and I had to find a way for them to get out of it. There were plenty of options, but I wasn’t sure which one they would choose. I tried to think through it, but I just thought myself in circles. I tried writing a list of possibilities, but that didn’t help me make a choice.
Then I decided to do a little pretending. It wouldn’t be interesting to show the characters working out a plan for overcoming their conflict in the narrative, but I could certainly write a dialogue scene between them, then file it away and write the action scene. I sat there and played out a conversation between two characters. It was almost as if I was performing an impromptu scene. It was a little awkward at first, but the conversation moved along. The characters worked out a plan, and I saw the path they would take.
I was basically playing and pretending — play-acting in a little one-person scene and pretending that I was my characters. And after struggling for several days to work out a problem, I got to a solution in just a few minutes.
I think that’s pretty amazing.
Play and Pretend: Exercise Your Imagination and Act it Out
Those of us who are on a perpetual quest for writing ideas could benefit from a little playing and pretending. You might feel silly at first, but if you relax and trust your imagination, you might end up with some incredible ideas for a writing project.
- Become one of your characters: get dressed up like your character and then go to a place where nobody knows you, in the next town or different part of the city. Act like your character, do what what your character would do. You can even do this around the house.
- Get a recording device and act out the dialogue between your characters: You can do this with a piece of dialogue you’ve already written to see how it sounds. If you use a video recorder and make an effort to get into character, you can also find out how your characters move — which gestures and body language they use.
- Use action figures to work out a scene in your story: Don’t have any? Head to a junk store. Any toys will do. Set up the scene with items from around your house and play out their dialogue and actions. Capture it by taking photos or take notes as you work out your scene.
Playing and pretending is not for everyone. Kids do it naturally, but for grown-ups, it can be awkward and uncomfortable. On the other hand, maybe one of your writer friends or a child in your family would be willing to play along with you. You’ll never know unless you try.
Have you ever acted out a scene or used play and pretend to develop writing ideas? Do you think these techniques would work for you? What do you do when you’re stuck or need fresh ideas for new projects? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment.
Are you in search of ideas for writing a book?
Almost every writer on the planet wants to write a book.
Some have finished a manuscript and others are already published, but many more dream, talk, and think about completing a full draft and seeing their name on a book cover.
Some already have a book in the works while others have several half-finished drafts floating around. Some can’t even get started. They have too many ideas to choose from, or they are waiting for the right idea.
You could spend your whole life waiting.
The world is full of inspiration. Think about what moves you. What gets you excited? What are your goals? That’s where you’ll find your best writing ideas for books and everything else you want to write, whether it’s short fiction, poetry, essays, or a blog.
Ideas for Writing a Book
There’s no mystery to writing a book. You just do it. You work on it every day, and you don’t let yourself get sidetracked or distracted. You don’t drop your project to chase tempting new ideas. You chip away at it, and then one day, you have a complete draft. That’s all there is to it.
But to write a book, you have to start with a concept. Before you can sketch characters, draft an outline, or select pieces for a collection, you need a vision.
Whether you have too many visions or not enough, there are a few creative strategies that you can use in your quest for ideas or in your decision-making process. Choosing the right idea is critical. If you pick a project that you believe in, there’s a much better chance that you’ll actually finish it.
I’m one of those people with way too many ideas. I’ve also started plenty of books that I never finished (and never intend to finish). Every half-finished project was a lesson in how to better focus my energies so I can finish a book, which I finally did. Here are some of the thinking strategies I’ve been using to decide which ideas for writing a book are worth pursuing:
Explore Your Passions
If you want to write a book, start with your own passions. Are you crazy about horror stories? Write one. Are you a political junkie? Write political articles. Do you like to grow your own food? Write a blog about that. Your passion for your project will keep it going, and it will come through in your writing. Once you’ve got enough written material, you can pull it together into a book by gathering stories, articles, or blog posts into a single themed manuscript.
Tip: write a list of everything you’re passionate about. Spend a few minutes brainstorming ideas about how to turn each one into a book. Let your list marinate for a few weeks. Which idea haunts you the most? That’s probably the best one to choose.
Tell a Story
Are you full of stories? Do you love fiction? For most writers, the big dream is writing a novel and getting it published. Once you decide to write a novel, the trick is coming up with characters and a plot that you can’t stop thinking about.
Tip: give yourself twenty minutes a day to work on your story and try to burn through that first draft as quickly as possible. You can revise later. If you come up with other story ideas while you’re working on it, jot them down in an idea notebook and then get back to work on your primary project.
Trigger Your Imagination
Some of the best art happens when artists experiment and take risks. If you’re juggling ideas or can’t seem to find the right one, take an abstract approach. Forget about form, genre, and structure. Just write.
Tip: get a notebook and set aside fifteen to thirty minutes a day to write in it. Fill it up with whatever comes to mind. You can write about your own experiences, make up stories and characters, or scrawl abstract ideas and images. When you get to the end, go through and harvest the notebook to gather ideas for writing a book.
Use Your Words
I meet a lot of writers who want nothing to do with poetry, and that’s a shame. Other than reading and writing, poetry is one of the best ways to strengthen your writing skills, and to write poetry, all you need are words. While it’s difficult to get a book of poems published through traditional publishing, you can easily self-publish a book of poetry.
Tip: write one poem a day for ninety days. Then give yourself three months to polish your poems. Look for a theme in your poetry, and choose poems that fit that theme. Finally, bring those poems together into a book. Makes a great gift!
Engage Your Expertise
Many authors find success writing about their field of expertise. You have a job or a career, and that’s one obvious subject for a book. But what about your hobbies and other interests? Have you spent thousands of hours playing video games? Attending the ballet? Perusing fashion magazines? Write a book about what you know.
Tip: a great way to write a book on a specific topic is to blog about it. You can use your blog to build an audience, and you can compile some of your blog posts into a book.
Readers are passionate about memoirs. There is something unique about your life and your perspective on life. Tell your story. Share your experiences. Express your thoughts and feelings.
Tip: if you’re thinking about writing a memoir, start keeping a journal. You can also write a series of personal essays, and these can be published separately or as a collection.
Put a Collection Together
Have you already written a lot of short stories, poems, or essays? Were some of them published? Instead of writing a book, make a collection of your finest writing.
Tip: as an alternative, you can collect pieces of writing from various writers and act as the editor of a collection.
A Few Things to Consider Before Starting a Book Project
Here are a few final things to consider before you jump into a long-term book writing project:
- Why do you want to write a book?
- Do you intend to publish your book?
- Will you self-publish or will you try to land an agent and get traditionally published?
- Do you have a platform or an audience? If not, should you start building one while you’re writing?
- How much time can you spend working on your book every single day?
I hope you found these tips and ideas for writing a book helpful.
Have you written a book? Are you working on one (or several)? How have you found your best ideas for writing a book? What’s your biggest challenge in sticking with a book project? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Descriptive writing ideas. Do your readers see what you see?
Descriptive writing is the art of painting a picture with words.
In fiction, we describe settings and characters. In poetry, we describe scenes, experiences, and emotions. In creative nonfiction, we describe reality.
Classic literature was dense with description whereas modern literature usually keeps description to a minimum.
Compare the elaborate descriptions in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with the descriptions in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Both series relied on description to help the readers visualize an imagined, fantastical world, but Rowling did not use her precious writing space to describe standard settings whereas Tolkien frequently paused all action and spent pages describing a single landscape.
This isn’t unique to Tolkien and Rowling; if you compare most literature from the beginning of of the 20th century and earlier to today’s work, you’ll see that we just don’t dedicate much time and space to description anymore.
I think this radical change in how we approach description is directly tied to the wide availability of film, television, and photography. Let’s say you were living in the 19th century, writing a story about a tropical island for an audience of northern, urban readers. You would be fairly certain that most of your readers had never seen such an island and had no idea what it looked like. To give your audience a full sense of your story’s setting, you’d need pages of detail describing the lush jungle, sandy beaches, and warm waters.
Nowadays, we all know what a tropical island looks like, thanks to the wide availability of media. Even if you’ve never been to such an island, surely you’ve seen one on TV.
Descriptive Writing in the 21st Century
This might explain why few books on the craft of writing address descriptive writing. The focus is usually on other elements, like character, plot, theme, and structure. While modern readers don’t require lengthy descriptions, descriptive writing is an essential skill, even in the 21st century.
For contemporary writers, the trick is to make the description as precise and detailed as possible while keeping it to a minimum. Most readers want characters and action with just enough description so that they can imagine the story as it’s unfolding.
Descriptive writing is especially important for speculative fiction writers and poets. If you’ve created a fantasy world, then you’ll need to deftly describe it to readers. Lewis Carroll not only described Wonderland; he also described the fantastical creatures that inhabited it. In poetry, the challenge is to describe things in a way that is visceral.
Simple descriptions are surprisingly easy to execute. All you have to do is look at something (or imagine it) and write what you see. But well crafted descriptions require writers to pay diligence to word choice, to describe only those elements that are most important, and to use engaging language to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.
10 Descriptive Writing Ideas
Here are some descriptive writing ideas that will inspire you while providing opportunities to practice writing description. If you don’t have much experience with descriptive writing, you may find that your first few attempts are flat and boring. If you can’t keep readers engaged, they will wander off. Work at crafting descriptions that are compelling and mesmerizing.
- Go to one of your favorite spots and write a description of the setting: it could be your bedroom, favorite coffee shop, or a local park. Leave people, dialogue, and action out of it. Just focus on explaining what the space looks like.
- Who is your favorite character from the movies? Describe the character from head to toe. Show the reader not only what the character looks like but also how the character acts. Do this without including action or dialogue. Remember: description only!
- Thirty years ago we didn’t have cell phones or the Internet. Now we have cell phones that can access the Internet. Think of a device or gadget that we’ll have thirty years from now and describe it.
- Since modern fiction is light on description, many young and new writers often fail to include descriptions, even when the reader needs them. Go through one of your writing projects and check to see that elements readers may not be familiar with are adequately described.
- Sometimes in a narrative, a little description provides respite from all the action and dialogue. Make a list of things from a story you’re working on (gadgets, characters, settings, etc.) and for each one, write a short description of no more than a hundred words.
- As mentioned, Tolkien often spent pages describing a single landscape. Choose one of your favorite pieces of classic literature, find a long passage of description, and rewrite it. Try to cut the descriptive word count in half.
- When you read a book, use a highlighter to mark sentences and paragraphs that contain description. Don’t highlight every adjective and adverb. Look for longer passages that are dedicated to description.
- Write a description for a child. Choose something reasonably difficult, like the solar system. How do you describe it in such a way that a child understands how he or she fits into it?
- Most writers dream of someday writing a book. Describe your book cover.
- Write a one-page description of yourself.
If you have any descriptive writing ideas to add to this list, feel free to share them in the comments.
Tips for developing essay writing ideas.
Around here, we’re usually so focused on fiction, poetry, and journaling that we often forget about another form of creative writing: the essay.
The first essay that captured my attention and got me interested in essay writing was Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” which was also my first introduction to satire:
Written and published anonymously in 1729, the essay suggested that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocked heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general. (Source)
“A Modest Proposal” is a harsh piece of writing but is both creative and socially conscious. Essays can also be academic, personal, or analytic. In terms of subject matter, essays can run the gamut. And while essays are often associated with academia because they are often assigned by schoolteachers and professors, plenty of writers have eked out careers publishing essays on a wide range of topics.
Today, we’ll focus on developing essay writing ideas, but first let’s look at a few types of essays.
What is an Essay?
The word essay comes from the French word essayer, which means “to try” or “to attempt.” An essay is a short format of writing, which usually presents an author’s personal point of view and can include criticism, arguments, observations, recollections, and reflections around a focused topic. Usually written in prose, the essay falls somewhere between an article and a short story.
According to Wikipedia there are three branches of essay writing:
Personal and autobiographical essays: These use “fragments of reflective autobiography” to “look at the world through the keyhole of anecdote and description.”
Objective and factual: In these essays, the authors “do not speak directly of themselves, but turn their attention outward to some literary or scientific or political theme.”
Abstract-universal: These essays “make the best … of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist.” This type is also known as Giraffe Style Writing.
So, how does one come up with essay writing ideas? One place to start is by thinking about the type of essay you want to write.
Types of Creative Essays
Because essays are so broad and can range from academic or analytic to highly personal, we can further place various types of essays in an unlimited number of categories. Let’s look at a few types of creative essays:
Narrative Essay: Narrative essays are similar to short stories except they are nonfiction and usually relate to a core topic or theme. Such an essay usually makes a point using story as an example. These are excellent essays for journal keepers and short fiction writers.
Descriptive Essay: A descriptive essay avoids the author’s personal thoughts and feelings and focuses on the who, what, where, when, why, and how. These essays are ideal for anyone who likes to examine a subject from every angle and for writers who enjoy composing descriptive prose.
Personal Essay: A personal essay relates an author’s thoughts or feelings on any given subject. Subject matter can range from food, health, and parenting to political or philosophical beliefs. The writer’s personal experiences may be the basis for such an essay; however, personal experiences may be absent.
Reflective Essay: A reflective essay is a stand-alone piece and usually meant for publication. This is an essay about a personal experience, which is intertwined with thoughts (reflections) on it.
Response Essay: A response essay is similar to a personal essay in that it relates the author’s thoughts and feelings, except it speaks specifically about the author’s reaction to something; books, movies, travels, and other events and experiences are all fair game.
Argumentative of Persuasive Essay: These essays present the author’s position on an issue and apply logic, reason, and often, statistics and research, to back up the author’s opinions. Persuasive essays are designed to convince readers to do something or see some issue from a certain perspective.
This is just a small sample of the various types of creative essays you might write. You may find that just by reviewing the different types of essays, something clicks and you’re struck with inspiration. However, you may need to look to your passions and interests to generate essay writing ideas; you may need to start with a topic.
Writing Ideas: Choosing a Topic
In the world of essays, there are unlimited topics that you can explore. In fact, topical essays are considered one of the many types of essays that you can write.
Here are a few good strategies for selecting a topic if you’re looking for essay writing ideas:
- What are you most passionate about? What gets your blood boiling or makes you want to do a happy dance? Write an essay about it.
- What do you know a lot about? It could be something you studied in school or it could be career-related. Your knowledge base provides great fodder for essay topics.
- What do you want to learn more about? You can always conduct research for an essay, and if there’s some subject you’d like to learn about, then conducting that research for an essay is a great way to get started.
Let’s say you’re writing a science fiction novel and want to learn more about our solar system so you can depict space travel. You could write a descriptive essay of our solar system and start the project by writing a long list of questions to which you need the answers in order to get started.
Tips for Publishing Essays
Many publications accept essay submissions. You can write an essay for a specific publication or you can write an essay and find a publication for it later. Be sure to check the publications’ submission guidelines and follow them accordingly. For example, some publications only take academic or analytic essays; others may be looking for essays that deal with specific subject matter. In traditional publishing, you might find essay collections difficult to break into. You usually need a few publication credits (clips) or expertise in a field before landing a publishing deal in this form.
If you’re a prolific essay writer, you can always self-publish your essays on your website or through any of the many self-publishing avenues available.
Do You Write Essays?
Essay writing is a broad field for writers to explore. Some of the greatest artists, thinkers, and leaders have been essayists and contributed their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives to the greater culture through the written word. Have you ever written an essay that wasn’t assigned? What subject matter do you like to explore in essays? Where do you find essay writing ideas? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment, and keep writing!
Where do you get ideas for writing?
In fiction writing, we’re often inspired with a what-if question: What if an innocent citizen is convicted of murder? What if humanity finds itself facing total extinction? What if that rabbit hole leads to a fantastical wonderland? Fiction is driven by imagination.
Ideas for writing creative nonfiction often arise from experience and interest rather than imagination. Instead of asking a what-if question, creative nonfiction writers set out to share their experiences, knowledge, ideas, and curiosities.
Young and new writers often wonder what they should write about. Where should they focus their efforts? Creative nonfiction is a vast genre and can be quite lucrative. Readers are always looking for advice and information. People love reading real-life accounts by writers with firsthand experience. Whether you write a memoir about a personal experience you’ve had or launch a blog related to your field of expertise, creative nonfiction offers a world of possibilities.
Creative Nonfiction: Ideas for Writing
Writers who are on a quest for inspiration can look inward to find a wealth of ideas for writing creative nonfiction.
1. Start with yourself. Writing an autobiography involves telling your life story. You get to share your experiences, successes, and failures. The ideas for such a project come directly from your own memories. The trouble with autobiographies is that readers are rarely interested in reading biographical information about total strangers. Unless you’re a public figure, there might be little interest in your project. The good news is that you can fictionalize your life story, turn it into a novel, and pursue fiction readers. Or you can narrow your focus and write a memoir.
2. What is a memoir? A memoir is not a life story; it’s a personal account of a particular experience. For example, if you’ve survived an illness, disaster, or trauma, that experience might provide the foundation for a memoir. Writing of this nature is more appealing to readers because it speaks to a specific audience. Young parents whose children are struggling with autism, for example, will be highly interested in reading a memoir by a parent who raised a child with autism. What makes memoirs so popular is the promise that through personal experience, the writer has obtained expertise and is now sharing it with the world.
3. Are you an expert? Creative nonfiction does not have to come from personal experience. If you’re an expert on any subject, you can write about it. It might be the subject you studied in school, the work you’ve done throughout your career, or a hobby that you’ve enjoyed and mastered. Many writers avoid this type of writing, assuming that there is already enough information out there. But new works are being published every day on a wide range of topics. What makes them succeed is not necessarily the information that is imparted, but the manner in which it is presented. A unique voice, a new take on the subject, and a fresh way to organize the information are all viable strategies.
4. What’s your passion? You can take your personal experience and acquired expertise on anything in the world and turn it into a writing project. These days, writers share their thoughts and insights on everything from their favorite TV shows and video games to the meals they eat and books they read. You can write about the philosophy of Star Trek. You could share tips and strategies for playing (and winning) popular video games. If you love coffee and have a penchant for taking pictures, set out to make a coffee table book about coffee. If you spend your mornings gardening and your evenings creating delicious home-cooked meals, you can launch a blog packed with tips and ideas for gardening, cooking, or healthy eating. You don’t have to be an expert or a professional to talk about your passion.
5. Set out on an adventure or run an experiment. Elizabeth Gilbert set out on a year of adventure and then wrote about it and became a best selling author. A.J. Jacobs has built a life and a career around experimental adventures. He read all thirty-two volumes of the Enclycopedia Britannica and then wrote about it. He spent a year living biblically and then wrote about it. He also experimented with outsourcing his entire life, and then wrote about it. If you’ve ever wanted to embark on a grand adventure or found yourself concocting experimental lifestyles, you may find ideas for writing creative nonfiction within your own curiosity.
Where Do You Get Ideas for Writing Projects?
Ideas for writing books, blogs, and articles are all around you. These ideas also exist inside you. Your questions, curiosities, experiences, and interests all have the potential to launch your next writing project.
Where do you get most of your ideas?
Which of your writing ideas is leading the pack?
There are always too many writing ideas or not enough of them.
Some days, we writers are so overwhelmed with ideas, it’s impossible to get anything done. Should you work on your novel? That essay you’re writing for your favorite magazine? You have an original premise for a short story. And you feel a poem coming on.
Other days, we just can’t find any inspiration.
Prioritizing Your Writing Ideas
Prioritizing your writing ideas will help you stay focused on projects you’ve already started. Too often, we writers run around chasing one idea after another, never finishing the big projects we’ve begun. A priority list that we follow with due diligence will encourage us to finish what we’ve started. And when inspiration is fleeting, we can turn to our priority list and it will remind us that we have plenty of ideas ready and waiting to be explored.
It’s a good idea to keep track of all your ideas, and most writers are already adept at this. We jot our ideas down in our notebooks. We litter our work areas with ideas scrawled on sticky notes. We scrawl concepts on random bits of scrap paper and cocktail napkins. You probably already have a boatload of projects incubating all around you. Now, you just need to get them in order.
Keeping a master list of projects (including your works-in-progress and future project ideas) is a good way to start prioritizing. Electronic lists work well because you can move things around. Note cards are also good organizational tools because you can spread them out, color code them by form, genre, or deadline, and keep them in a box or bound them with a rubber band for easy storage and access.
How to Prioritize Your Writing Ideas
Before you prioritize your writing ideas, create a neat and manageable list using a spreadsheet, word processing document, or set of note cards. Then you can starting putting things in order.
1. Finish What You’ve Started
You’re three chapters into a novel when you come up with a breakthrough story idea for another novel. So you promptly shove your current project to the back burner and move on to the next idea. This is no way to get things done. Make a list of all your unfinished projects — the ones you fully intend on completing. Tackle those first. Add any new ideas to the bottom of the list and refrain from working on your new ideas until you’ve wrapped up the old ones.
2. Do it for Money
I’m not a big believer in making art just for the money, but we all have to eat. If you have projects that will ensure there is food on the table and a roof over your head, then get to those first. Business before pleasure, my friends.
3. Do it for Love
Nothing carries a creative project like passion. If you have tons of writing ideas and aren’t sure which one to focus on first, follow your heart. If you’ve finished your other projects and are eating well, then do what you love.
4. Little Things Come First
When you have a huge list, it can help to work through the little projects first — the ones that will only take a few hours or a couple of days. This is a great way to shorten your project list and get a lot done in a short amount of time. But take care — little projects have a way of popping up all over the place. Make sure you don’t let small projects keep piling up in front of your bigger projects.
5. Even Distribution
If you have big projects, little projects, ongoing projects, and one-time projects, short-term and long-term projects, try prioritizing one of each. In other words, write a poem, then a short story, then an essay, then start that novel, then go back to your poetry. You can go around and around. You’ll chip away at everything a little more slowly, but you’ll be well rounded for your efforts.
How Many Writing Ideas Are You Juggling?
Do you have more writing ideas than you know what to do with? Are you short on time or not sure what to tackle first? Try organizing your projects into a list and then prioritize them using these five methods for putting your projects in order. Keep adding all your new writing ideas to your list, but more importantly, keep writing.