Sometimes we’re overwhelmed with writing ideas. We work on multiple projects simultaneously and are constantly bombarded with new ideas that we’ll never have time to fully explore, let alone turn into active projects.
Other times we’re at a loss. Ideas are sparse and none of them hold our attention or inspire enough passion to see a project through to completion.
Ideas and inspiration remain a mystery. They are so mysterious, in fact, that thousands of years ago they were personified as goddesses in ancient Greek mythology. These goddesses were known as the muses. Of the ancient Greek deities, the muses have been the most persistent. Even today, creative people will refer to their muses and discuss inspiration as if it’s an external supernatural entity.
Most of us cannot summon new writing ideas on command, and we’ve all experienced the random arrival of a magnificent idea, which often comes at an inopportune time, like when we’re driving, showering, or otherwise engaged. We shoot down good ideas because we deem them as unoriginal. We sit and wait for fresh writing ideas to magically appear instead of nurturing our creativity and actively pursuing inspiration.
Finding and Developing Fresh Writing Ideas
If you’ve ever struggled to find inspiration, you know how frustrating it can be when you want to write but the words, the ideas, just won’t come. Creativity is fleeting, but we can nurture it. We can break bad habits, adopt good ones, and adjust negative attitudes.
Adopt a few of these practices so your imagination stays active and your pen keeps moving to the tune of a constant stream of writing ideas:
- Make time for creativity every day. Nothing will stifle creativity like ignoring it. When creativity strikes, give it your full attention. If that’s not possible, then set aside a little time each day (or a few times a week) to be creative.
- Stop trying to be so original. Writers often complain that their ideas are not good enough, not original enough. Everything has been done before. Stop trying to be different and focus on being yourself.
- Consume art and let it inspire you. Read as much as you can. Not only will good books inspire you, they will also improve your writing. Visit museums, listen to lots of music, and watch plenty of TV and movies.
- Keep an idea journal or notebook. There’s nothing worse than experiencing a flash of brilliance only to lose it because you didn’t write it down. Save those ideas!
- Become an observer. You’ll get some of your best ideas from taking in the world around you (and the people in it). Every day, you’re exposed to bits of dialogue, interesting stories, and funny situations. Turn these into poems, stories, articles, and essays.
- Foster curiosity. The world is curious place, so ask questions about it. Allow yourself to wonder at everything from the stars to human psychology. You’ll find ideas in the questions you come up with as well as in the answers.
- Practice writing even when you’re uninspired. Go through your idea notebook or practice writing descriptions. Make lists of words and phrases. Brainstorm character names. Just because you’re not brimming with ideas doesn’t mean you can’t get a little writing done. And as you write, ideas will start to flow.
- Steal ideas. Some of the greatest stories are merely echos of the stories that came before. In fact, some of the most successful stories are blatantly based on classics. Put a fresh twist on an idea that’s already withstood the test of time.
- Play and pretend. Children have vivid imaginations for a reason. They spend the majority of their time playing and pretending. That’s why they’re so full of ideas.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new and different. Often a change of scenery or using different tools while you’re writing will engage your imagination and get your ideas flowing.
Do you have too many writing ideas or not enough? What do you do when you’re fresh out of ideas?