How To Come Up with Writing Ideas

No matter how much you enjoy writing, at one time or another, you're likely to run out of ideas.  How do you keep the thoughts flowing?  Where can you turn for inspiration?  Look to the following sources to cure even the worst case of writer's block.

  1. Free write.  The idea of free writing is to write without stopping for a set period of time.  You may start with a prompt or topic, or write about the first thing that comes to mind.  The intended benefit is to write without self-censoring or editing your thoughts before they reach the page.  You never know what great ideas might emerge when you let loose. 
  2. Look for ideas in your daily life.  Every experience has the potential to hold numerous writing ideas.  A bad trip to the dentist can lead to a humorous essay on the experience or a feature article on patients who fear dental check-ups.  The next time you do a repair around the house or fix a computer problem, write a helpful how-to.  The possibilities are truly endless. 
  3. Find inspiration in the news.  If you're in tune with what's going on in the world, you can always find new writing ideas.  It doesn't matter what type of writing you do, either.  A new scientific discovery can just as easily inspire an editorial on the potential impact of the technology, a piece of speculative fiction about the invention gone awry, or a poem inspired by the improvement. 
  4. Constantly look for opportunities to learn something new.  Whether you're enrolled in a formal class or just exploring an unfamiliar area, keep your mind fresh with constant education.  The new topics to which you'll be introduced will offer constant fodder for writing ideas. 
  5. Start a writing journal.  The informal atmosphere of a journal can give you the freedom to explore new ideas.  Writing regularly will also help keep the ideas coming.
  6. Read regularly.  Others' words can be great inspiration.  You may try imitating a stylistic element from someone else's writing or creating a response to an issue posed by another author.
  7. Keep your ears open.  If you're always listening, you never know what you might hear.  Snatches of conversation can provide the dialogue for your next short story.  When your boss says something stupid or your child says something cute, you might have your next magazine filler.      
  8. Draw inspiration from random words, images and objects.  Open a magazine and write a dialogue between the models in the first ad you see.  Write a short story including three objects in your purse or wallet.  Turn to any page in the dictionary, place your finger on a word without looking at the page, and write a piece based on that word.  Choose the first line of a novel and turn it in to a poem. 

With all of these methods at your disposal, it will be only a matter of time before you're back to writing.


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