I am often asked this question by readers: where do you get the ideas for your stories and novels? I answer this question by saying I don’t just sit at my computer all day and pull ideas out of thin air. Here are a few ideas or tips on how I generate new fiction that may prove helpful.
One: Ideas for fiction originate from living life as fully as possible. I am interested in the people and places around me. I talk with friends and family. I communicate with other people. I even listen in on conversations I overhear in restaurants and at gatherings. I pay attention. I observe with all of my senses. Reality gets mixed with imagination in fiction writing. Setting, plot, theme and characterization often originate from living life in the real world and observing what is happening there.
Writers are people, many of whom live interesting and unusual lives. However, some of us tend to find the unusual in the ordinary. It all plays a part in what writers ultimately designate as “fiction.”
sparks ideas. I
am a voracious reader as are many other authors. I read a great variety of
books, magazines and newspapers. I read both fiction and nonfiction. Reading the
work of other writers, both fiction and nonfiction, stirs my imagination and
encourages creativity. Reading
Some things I’ve found helpful that may help spark creativity:
· Visit a bookstore and browse. Buy a new book or magazine you’d like to read.
· Visit a library and browse. Borrow a print book or audio that looks interesting.
Three: Journal writing serves as a source for ideas. I faithfully write in a journal each day. It is not necessarily great literature but I use journaling to describe things, increasing my powers of observation. For example, I might describe places: houses, sidewalks, backyards and streets, cities. I consider my journal as a kind of travelogue. I often describe people, interesting or unusual, the ordinary as well.
I might jot down snatches of conversation. I think of my journal as a treasure trove or jewel box in which to place gems (quotes, pithy ideas, epigrams, insights, puns, nutshell wisdom). I write a little, think a lot.
I also consider the journal as a laboratory for experiment, a way to try different writing styles, see what suits, what fits and what doesn't.
In journaling, I can have a record of thought associations, stream-of-consciousness. Journaling can provide fine raw material for future writing.
When I was teaching English at the high school level, I wrote in my journal regularly. A lot of those thoughts, comments, and descriptions came into play when I wrote THE TRUTH SLEUTH. Readers who have also taught commented that this mystery novel has the ring of veracity about it--not surprising since the book is the real deal, one of the benefits of writing what I actually know about. The same was true of THE INFERNO COLLECTION, the original idea for which was sparked by my time working as an academic reference librarian at the university.
Even my YA novels are sparked by real events. In THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, I’ve written reality from my own high school days mixed with the paranormal in a romantic allegorical story.
In STACY’S SONG, the main character is a girl with a sense of humor but handling many of the insecurities I and others typically dealt with as teenagers.
Four: Exercise is important. I go for walks, paying attention to my surroundings. If the weather is too cold, I either use a treadmill or walk in a mall. My husband does interval training. Jogging works too. Some people like to swim or bicycle. Some like to dance or do yoga. It’s all good! Exercise sends blood to the brain and produces a sense of well-being that lends itself to creativity.
Five: What else can we do to spark our life force, rev up our engines? I’m not just talking about in the creative arts. Every human being needs revitalization at some point. If you’ve become discouraged, suffered a loss of productivity in your field of endeavor, there are ways to deal with it.
Get started by making some life changes in this new year. Get out of your normal rut or routine. Consider doing things you’ve never tried before or haven’t done lately. They don’t have to be dangerous or extreme either.
Meditation is not something new but certainly beneficial. It’s been referred to as “mindfulness.” Here’s some easy ways to start:
· Breathe deeply concentrating on the act itself
· Hug someone, focusing on the interaction
· Eat slowly while paying attention to what you are eating
The key is to keep focus on the activity and not let your mind wander or worry.
This is just one positive method of increasing your creativity which can lead to increased productivity.
Visit an art gallery, a museum, or travel somewhere you’ve never been before.
Six: Writers need to write. Choose a time that’s good for you and write consistently each day. I prefer the early morning when there are fewer distractions or interruptions. But you may be a night person. Do what’s comfortable. Just make writing a daily habit.
All of these things stimulate creativity which in turn helps originate new writing.