By Cherie K. Miller
The most frequent question newbie writers ask is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Now that’s a hard question to answer. I usually get my article, blog topics or book topics from EVERYWHERE! If you’re stuck for writing ideas, here are some tips I’ve used to keep the creative juices flowing:
1) Get Your Idea Antenna Working: Creative ideas are floating in the ether, found on the internet, develop from conversations, can pop up while you’re driving somewhere, reading something, listening to music, or, my least favorite time, when you’re drifting off to sleep. As a working writer, the best tip I can give you is to “tune in” your creative idea antenna to have a
LOT of ideas flooding your way and then allow your
subconscious to bring a new angle or a new idea to an old story.
2) Keep an Idea File: I was a columnist for a newspaper in
Writing a weekly column was rough, but knowing that I had a deadline made me
very disciplined in looking for ideas. In fact, even before I pitched the idea
to the editors at the newspaper I came up with 52 column ideas – showing that
the column had enough content to keep it going. It
worked – for eight straight years! I carried a package of 3 x 5 cards in my
purse, kept a stack on my desk, and tucked them in books as bookmarks. Every
time I came across an idea, I’d write it on a card and file it in my idea box
on my writing desk. If I ever lacked ideas, I’d take a quick run through my
idea box and usually something would spark a writing frenzy.
3) Do Something Different. I absolutely love this paragraph by Natalie Goldberg, a writing teacher and author of WritingDown the Bones.“Sometimes there is just no way around it—we are boring and we are sick of ourselves, our voice, and the usual material we write about. It’s obvious that even going to a café to write doesn’t help. It is time to find other ways. Dye your hair green, paint your nails purple, get your nose pierced, dress as the opposite sex, perm your hair…Borrow your friend’s black leather motorcycle jacket, walk across the coffee shop like a Hell’s Angel, wear work boots, farmer’s overalls, a three-piece suit, wrap yourself in an American flag or wear curlers in your hair. Just sit down to write in a state you don’t ordinarily sit down to write in. Try writing on a large drawing pad. Wear all white and a stethoscope around your neck—whatever it takes to simply see the world from another angle.”
4) Use a Totally Different Process.. I’m a very linear writer. I write the beginning, the middle and then the end. That’s why I was so intrigued to hear about the process that the author of Fried Green Tomatoes, Fannie Flagg, uses: “I’m dyslexic. I write the end, then middle, then some of the beginning. I write scenes, and then hang them on a clothesline down my great-big, long hallway. It just helps me to see the story visually in sequence. The hardest part is putting it all together at the end. It’s like piecing together a quilt. And, if I drop it, I have a totally different book.”
5) Watch a Movie, Read a Book, Go to a Play, Attend a Concert. Author Julia Cameron, who wrote TheArtist’s Way, uses a tool she calls an Artist Date. This is how she defines it: “An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. …You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child. ..Your artist needs to be taken out, pampered, and listened to.”
Consider prioritizing creativity for the rest of 2013. Schedule in some time to take an artist date, rearrange your writing desk, go buy yourself some neon 3 x 5 cards and a nifty file box, to make 2013 your most creative year yet!
Cherie K. Miller is the author, Writing Conversations, Backwords,.and Sell More Books. She lives on a lake in
Georgia with her author husband, J.
Steve Miller and a blended family of seven sons. She has an MA in Professional
Writing from .
She is the former President of the Georgia Writers Association and serves as a
volunteer for several nonprofit agencies. Blog: www.cheriekmiller.com www.wisdomcreekpress.com Kennesaw
Pet Blog: www.pet-peeves.org Twitter: @Impeeved