Nicole J. Simms

How I Get Ideas

Post date: 30th September 2015

How I get ideas

Hello again! I am back with some more writing tips. So what do I have for you today? Well, today I will be discussing how I get story ideas. Most of the time, I find that ideas come to me without much effort; however, there are times when your mind goes blank and needs a little prompt to start working again.

So if you are struggling with finding ideas, then see my list below.

How I get ideas:

1. Photo prompts: I once told my writing group that you can get a story idea from a piece of chewing gum on the floor. While, to others, that piece of chewing gum is rubbish, for a writer it can lead to many questions. Who left the chewing gum? Why did they decide to drop it on the floor instead of the bin? Did they drop the chewing gum or were they forced, etc.? A photo can inspire the same ideas. Take the photo in this post. Why is the person trying to get ideas? Why are they using blue paper? It’s a good idea to take photos (or gather them) and add them to a scrapbook, and from time to time, you can flick through when you are struggling to get ideas.

2. Written prompts: These are like photo prompts, but they are more likely to lead you into a certain direction. For example, Sally has bought a new bag, and finds a death threat inside the bag. Who is the death threat to, and what does Sally do?

3. Story submission calls: A lot of my story ideas have come from story submission calls. With many of these calls, your story will need to meet a certain theme, contain a certain word, or first line. These are a great way to get those ideas flowing. I recently entered a competition where you had to have the word chocolate into the story.

4. Newspapers and articles: You’ll be surprised how many interesting stories can be found in newspapers and magazines, some can even be spooky. I recently found an article about Black eyed children spotted in Cannock Chase, which caught my interest. Some newspaper stories can even be the start of a story e.g. woman wins the lottery.

5. Real life events: This relates to newspapers and articles. Sometimes real life can be stranger than fiction. You can also be inspired by your own life experiences, especially past memories.

6. From a conversation: I have the naughty habit of writing down what people say when they say something funny or random. Not only can these be great to add to your own dialogue, but some of them can make great first lines and lead into a story.

7. Research: I’m currently researching for the World War II anthology that my writing group and I are working on. At first I didn’t have any story ideas (writing historical fiction can be tricky) but once I started to research I found out many facts and information that I have created ideas from.

8. Relax the mind: Whether you walk, exercise, or star gaze, it all helps to relax the mind, and when your mind is relaxed, you will find that ideas will ooze out of you. Stress and life can often block those ideas, so do whatever you need to do to relax.

9. Keep an idea journal: I’ve recently spoken about this in my ‘Notebooks – A writer’s best friend’ post. An idea journal is a great place to store all of your ideas when you don’t have time to work on them straight away. And when you need an idea, you can simply flick through your journal and find an idea that might have been written years ago, but could be the idea that can help start a new story.

There are many different ways that you can get ideas, but the most important thing is finding the right way for you. So if you are struggling, try one of the options above (you can even use my writing prompt), and see what magic you can create.

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