writing ideas

Foster curiosity to generate more writing ideas.

Even though writing ideas abound all around us, we writers sometimes get stumped.

We search for topics, plot ideas, models for our characters, and interesting language. Unfortunately, our searches don’t always yield desirable results.

But by fostering curiosity, we can ensure a constant stream of inspiration and creativity.

Some of the best writing ideas come from asking simple questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

By using these interrogative pronouns to trigger your curiosity, you can develop questions — questions that need answers. And your answers will lead you to new writing ideas.

Curiosity Saved the Writer

Most writers are curious by nature. We look at the world around us and wonder at it. Who are these people? What are we all doing here? Where are we heading? Why do we do the things we do? How will we achieve our goals?




Remember how curious you were as a child? Everything you encountered spawned a series of questions because you were trying to learn and understand the world around you.

Bring that childlike curiosity back, and you’ll never need to look far for new, interesting writing ideas.

Questions and Writing Ideas

By fostering curiosity, we can create a fountain of ideas. It doesn’t matter what form your writing takes or what genre you’re writing in. By coming up with intriguing questions, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed with inspiration.

Below are some questions you can use to generate fresh writing ideas. Mix them up, change them around, and come up with your own list of questions, too:

Who

  • Who is this story about?
  • Who does my main character trust? Who is the enemy?
  • Who in my life could inspire a poem?
  • Who am I?
  • Who does this character/person care about?

What

  • What are the characters’ goals?
  • What images do I want to create with a poem?
  • What related topics could be included in this project?
  • What motivates people to take drastic actions?
  • What if…?

Where

  • Where can I feel this poem physically? Head? Heart? Hands?
  • Where did it all begin?
  • Where will the characters end up?
  • Where does this story take place?
  • Where do these people want to be?

When

  • When does this poem take place?
  • When does a child become an adult?
  • When did things change for this character?
  • When did this story start?
  • When should this story end?

Why

  • Why does this story matter?
  • Why is this poem relevant?
  • Why did he or she do it?
  • Why would a person take a great risk?
  • Why are there stars in the sky?

How

  • How did the character land in this situation?
  • How will this story make people feel?
  • How do the characters know each other? How do they feel about each other?
  • How do you describe something that doesn’t really exist?
  • How far will the main character go to achieve his or her goal?

Keep Asking Questions

If you can keep your curiosity on fire and continue coming up with new questions, you’ll find that you can write your way into answers and constantly discover new writing ideas along the way.

Try using any of the questions above as writing prompts. Simply copy and paste a question at the top of a new document (or write it in your journal) and then go — just start writing and let the answer come to you, through you, onto the page.

As you work through your writing projects, you can also use questions to help you overcome hurdles that are preventing you from crossing the finish line. Not sure how to move a plot forward? Start asking questions. Don’t know how to make a character more believable? Ask questions. Want to write a piece that is informative and entertaining? Ask away.

Throughout time, many great thinkers have used questions to prompt creative and critical thinking. Sometimes one question will lead to the next, and that’s fine. As long as you keep your curiosity well oiled and let those questions flow, you’ll never be at a loss for writing ideas.

Do you have any favorite techniques for developing new writing ideas? Are there any questions you ask to get through a project or to come up with new project ideas? Share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment.

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