One of my goals this week is to brainstorm ideas for a series of new poems. I thought I’d go through some of our previous posts for writing inspiration.
I hope you find the following three posts helpful in your own quest for writing ideas:
“Exercises in memoir: finding your story” offers several exercises to help you mine your memory for anything from memoir to poetry to fiction.
“Embrace your day job for writing inspiration” offers a Ted Kooser poem and insights from Carly about finding writing ideas at work.
“Four way to cultivate writerly inspiration” lists more ways to find inspiring ideas.
Are you stalled at some point in your story or manuscript development? Or maybe you’ve finished a project and are jumping into a new one. Generating an idea for a novel is one thing, but how do you build it out into a manuscript? Maybe you’re looking at all the ideas you’ve collected, and you’re stuck about where to go next.
Breathe life into your novel ideas by brainstorming your ideas. Here’s where to start:
1. Ask the question: “What was happening in my life when I thought of this idea?” For memoir writers, this is especially powerful. Big life changes or milestones often spark new ideas. Whether you’re writing a memoir or novel, our inner selves drive themes in our writing worlds. Many novels are autobiographical to some degree — consciously or unconsciously. Our life experiences can’t help but inform the stories we write. Read more
Tanya Lloyd Kyi has a prescription for filling blank pages: Freewrite with childlike abandon. Kyi shared tips about writing and generating ideas in her workshop, “The Inspiration Zone: Practical ways to generate and sustain ideas,” at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference Oct. 19-21.
Kyi said that, as a child, she wrote constantly and didn’t worry about who saw it. But things change when you get older.
“We can find ourselves in a straitjacket worrying about what we’re allowed to write about and not write about,” she said. “Sometimes we have to cast away those doubts and just write.”
Writing prompts can spark ideas for new stories. Read more
In my last post, “How to make dry research fun,” I wrote about the research I’m doing for my current work-in-progress. I’m writing a story that contains fallen angels, demons, and even the greatest fallen angel of all time.
Part of my research involves reading current novels that contain this subject matter so I can see what’s out there and what’s been done (so I don’t repeat it). But this is not all or even the majority of my research. Most of my reading is of historical texts and references. I’m going back in time to find the “real” history of my characters and themes.
So why not just read what’s hot now? If I were writing a vampire novel, I’d want to read, among others, Stoker’s Dracula, Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and Meyer’s Twilight (to see what all the fuss is about).
But if I only read these books, I’d be basing my knowledge on other author’s perceptions, themes, and ideas. Read more
Ian McEwan, who wrote Atonement and Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, describes in this 3-minute video how he develops ideas and finds inspiration for his writing, including a technique he uses to “force ideas.”
McEwan’s most recent book Sweet Tooth: A Novelis a love story, a spy novel, and a book about literature itself.
In my post, “Six Elements of Great Short Stories,” I wrote about the six things literary agent April Eberhardt said we should think about in our stories: setting, character, point of view, conflict, plot, and theme.
She suggested carrying some index cards with these elements listed and using them when we see something in our daily life that sparks our interest.
She used the example of the day she was driving in the city and saw a car full of nuns next to her. What drew her interest was the unexpected–they were driving a new Lexus and laughing hysterically. She began to wonder about their story.
So, if I take her advice and list the elements of this situation on my index card, it could look something like this: Read more
My biggest pet peeve is when I hear somebody say writing can’t be taught. Of course it can. Maybe it can’t be taught like brain surgery–follow a certain protocol and you’ll have success. But through consistent effort and learning from our mistakes, we can become better writers.
One of my favorite quotes from Terry Gilliam, writer, director, and member of the comedy group Monty Python, reminds me of this fact: Read more