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Finding New Ideas

June 29th, 2018

First, thanks to Michela for last week’s blog. I love the way she refers to writing as ‘self-inflicted duty’! It may be for her, but there are many others who want to write but somehow find themselves short of new ideas.

First and foremost, you need to realise that nothing is really new. We’re pretty sure that no matter what idea you come up with, someone else will have already thought of it, or something very much like it. That’s just life. So, it’s not always about finding new ideas, it’s about making an old one fresh – finding a new angle to work from.

But before you get to that point, you need an idea to work with. So, here are some suggestions to give your imagination a creative kick!

  1. Listen to music. Song lyrics and titles can be a great source of ideas. You can either listen to the song or go online and watch the accompanying video for inspiration. And, if you enjoy listening to music while you write, you can combine work and pleasure.
  2. Travel is great for broadening the mind! And it doesn’t have to be some far-flung, expensive destination either. A day out at the seaside or a trip to a local beauty spot can be just as inspiring. Sometimes a simple change from your daily routine can boost your creativity.
  3. Eaves Drop. Yes, we all know that is usually considered rude to listen in on other peoples’ conversations, but people often discuss their private business quite loudly in public, especially on their phones! All you need to do is listen and store any interesting bits of the conversation that might provide the basis for a short story.
  4. Watch TV – or the equivalent. It’s not a waste of time if you’re actively thinking about what you watch and looking for inspiration. Be careful not to pinch plots and storylines but there’s nothing stopping you from taking basic ideas and giving them a new twist.
  5. Read. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many budding writers claim they haven’t time to read. It doesn’t matter what you read – newspapers, novels, non-fiction books or magazines – they are all equal in their potential to supply you with inspiration.
  6. Use the internet. Just type a random word into your search engine and see what it throws up, then roam from link to link – you’ll be amazed at what you find. But it might be wise to set yourself a limit or you could find yourself with no time left to write.
  7. People watch. This is one of my favourite ways to pass time. Look at how they’re dressed, watch what they’re doing, see if they are displaying any unusual body language and watch how they react to other people. Put two and two together and make five! You might not get a full plot out of it, but you could get some great characters.
  8. Day dream. This is another of those things we’re told is a waste of time. But, allowing yourself some personal time to let your mind wander can be a great way to boost your creativity.
  9. Talk to people. It can be daunting trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but think about what you might find out. People are often more willing to share their innermost thoughts and feelings, especially if they think they’ll never see you again. If the thought of having random conversations on train platforms is just too much for you, why not try out online chat rooms?
  10. Network. Being amongst other people, bouncing ideas around, can help enormously with creativity. You could join a writers’ group (or a reading group if the former makes you feel nervous), you could visit writers’ conferences, literary events or book yourself on a writing retreat. Even if it doesn’t bring immediate results it will, hopefully, make you feel less isolated as a writer and inspire you to continue.

And don’t forget… when you have a good idea note it down immediately or you risk losing it.

Before I leave you this week, I’d like to remind you that the closing date for our Limerick Competition is 31st July, so you’ve still plenty of time to enter. The winner will receive £100 and a Writers Bureau course of their choice. Two runners-up will each receive £50 and an annual subscription to the Association of Freelance Writers.

My guest next week is Andrew Gill (writing as Gillan Drew) who won fourth place in our recent Short Story Competition with The Embrace of the Sea. He’ll be looking at the importance of knowing when to stop when editing your work.

Author: Diana Nadin


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