Finding ideas for a story feels like one of the toughest things to do on the planet if you’re a writer. Since everything has already been written in some way, how would you go about creating a new piece of literature? Well, this short list below will break down how to find new fresh ideas for your writing pleasure.
Re-read old favorites or short stories from your favorite authors and take the plot to re-work it.
Create a mind map and draw connections between two things that have nothing to do with one another, i.e. spiders and high school students on field trips.
Brainstorm in the shower.
Memorize your nightmares or dreams and jot them down in a dream journal
Go out in public and listen to stranger’s conversations, just don’t be a creep about it.
Hang out in nature or a wide open space with little distractions.
Look at a story trope that has been written to death and then tweak, rewrite, and revive it.
The suggestions above may not create your next bestseller. But, it will help you to gather some new ideas for your writing collection.
Any other ideas you could suggest? Put in the comments below! And, don’t forget to share.
I frequently think about how my life would change if I was a professional, full-time writer, with book signings, students to teach, and a talk show gig to attend.
In the past, I used to think the things above showed myself and the world that I am a writer, but not only that, I’m successful.
Instead of basking in that adolescent dream and society’s ideas about success, I think about the stress that would inevitably overtake me. And, with stress comes doubts, and with doubts come bouts of writer’s block.
I’m not against gaining accolades for my hard work or having the opportunity to share my work with important individuals. But, I do believe this time in my life where my words don’t matter to many will be the opportune time to produce my best creative work.
I know writers with experience tend to create good literature. But, they may become more reserve, and once they find their niche it may be hard to venture out.
Even, I am mindblown when writers who I know write in one genre end up exploring a different genre entirely. It’s not that they are imposters, it’s just you may never have expected them to step away from their norm.
I like the idea of knowing I can create anything at the moment, with little to no fallout. I share my work online. If I get trolled. Oh well, it’s the fact of putting your literary life out there.
But, if I was an established writer, I would feel the pressure to make sure my work speaks to everyone.
And, I might get hung up on the negative attitude of 2-star reviewers. Then, my work would suffer or I might go into hiding to avoid more ridicule (or not).
This is an extreme example, but I understand it’s lonely at the top, and probably a long and hard fall downward.
However, one nice thing to think about being inexperienced, I can change my technique and expand my mind.
I love a lot of things. Writing isn’t my only venture. I love science, technology, pop culture, and anything business related. Some experienced writers become pigeon-holed into one role.
I don’t want to be forced into a mold. I want to explore. Expand and keep growing and going with my mind and my writing.
Do you ever feel like inexperienced writers have it a tad easier than the well-established writers? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be glad to let you know what I think about your opinions.
So, I started writing again, as you can see. It’s a work in progress and I’m taking small steps towards my goal of completing my first self-published novel.
I’m in the editing stages, and I’ve got a working title: Syphons.
But, this work-in-progress almost became cyber dust. I avoided writing for a long time. My five-year long writing hiatus began during my freshman year in community college after the professor decided to ask my class the following question:
“So, what does everyone want to do when they graduate from college?”
The question hung in the air for a moment. My World Literature college professor clasped the sides of her podium and swept her eyes across the room of twenty-somethings. Chatter about weekend plans and future chemistry exams were silenced.
I knew the answer. I had a plan already (Or so I thought). So, I raised my hand.
She called on me.
“I’m going to become a writer.” Then 17-year-old me said. “But, first I’m going to work towards an MFA in Creative Writing.”
In hindsight, I should’ve remained silent, and kept my hubris answer to myself.
She raised a brow and smirked.
“Really? What are you going to write?”
“Science fiction. But, I like romances, too.”
She shook her head.
“I don’t think so…”
What does she mean I don’t think so.
I’d just spent two weeks at the time writing and editing a 366-page sci-fi. I planned to have it published by the time I turned 18 so that I could be on the bestsellers list by my 20s. I had plans to be like a Stephanie Meyer (but younger).
“Just don’t get an MFA, if you plan on writing fiction.”
“Why not?” One of the students blurted out.
“Don’t you have one? And a Ph.D. also.” I said. She was my college professor after all, why else would I be sitting in her class learning about Voltaire!
“Yes. But an MFA is for individuals who plan to be writing professors. It’s not a very lucrative position at all. And, all that money you spend on a degree that doesn’t promise much in return.”
So my dream is a waste of time? Ahh, yes, my wise college professor, who clearly knows what she’s talking about, just told me not to go to college for writing. Only English professors who are tenured at universities need MFAs. Not silly creative writing students with dreams of publishing sci-fi, like me. I should probably listen to her every word!
My mind raced. What would I do with my life, now!? The above thoughts popped into my head.
In the end…
I never published my 300+ paged “bestseller” after that class.
I never went on to a prestigious MFA program. I didn’t even apply to one.
In fact, I stopped writing for a long time after graduation.
And, then I started up again.
And, then quit again.
I always wanted to be a writer.
Jeff Goins said, “Writers write.”
The ProBloggers, CopyBloggers, WordPress regulars, and the like all said that “Writers write.” Or at least catchphrases along those lines.
But, why should I write?
I didn’t have anything to say that mattered to anyone.
That college professor’s words haunted me. It joined the other voices in my head that took on the form of doubt and encouraged my writer’s block.
Still, every day I thought, I should be writing.
I think about writing all the time. But, what should I write about?
I’m a nobody who likes to type on her keyboard and then delete her creations or hide them in cyber-filing cabinets, never to see the light of day.
Do other writers ever feel like this? Like their words shouldn’t be allowed to see the light of day?
Does Stephen King ever feel like what he writes doesn’t matter all because of one hater? I guess thick skin and decades worth of bestsellers prove that the words shouldn’t hurt as much.
Maybe, I should’ve stopped listening to my college professor the day I decidedshe controlled my future career.
I don’t think she wanted me to avoid writing, or MFA programs, or additional college.
I think she was just leveling with me. Helping me to realize writing takes work. And, editing and rewriting plenty of drafts are required. Maybe a teaching gig would give a would-be sci-fi blockbusting novelist some street cred in the fiction community. Who knows.
Should I really write?
If it’s a part of me. I need to express it.
And, if writing is my calling.
I should start listening to it.
And, if my calling is ‘dumb’.
That just means I need to find out what’s ‘smart’ about it.
In the future, I will share more about my work on Syphonsand shove my college professor and other doubts back to the back of my brain where they belong.
Comment below if someone ever said something discouraging about your dreams to be a writer, artist, poet, etc. Did you clap-back or did you let their words haunt you? How did you survive the heartbreak? I’d love to hear your input!!
In high school, I remembered an assignment given to me by my College Success professor during my junior year. On the form, we needed to list three potential universities and three potential majors, both in order of importance.
At that time, I listed my dream major, and two majors that would please my mother and mentor, both of whom were two of my biggest cheerleaders (and burdens).
The list of potential majors I chose looked something like this:
As you can tell from the list above, my goal of becoming a writer took priority over all other majors at the time.
But, by the time graduation rolled by I decided not to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. On paper, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but the main reason why I pulled the plug on it?
And it was the kind of fear that produced other useless emotions such as:
I allowed fear to help me choose a safe desk job. And I was hired as an insurance professional fresh out of college.
The job promised dull busywork, but a steady paycheck. And, my mother was pleased I had come to my senses and went the route of a desk job, instead of a silly career involving fiction writing. My mentor was disappointed that I turned down the opportunity to apply to an Ivy League program. But, I decided to cut all ties with her after graduating because I felt like I wasn’t good enough for her.
The next few years, I worked in almost every department at the insurance agency and moved all the way up (or down) to insurance claims handling. Let’s just say my hatred for claims felt like punishment from the Universe for avoiding my calling to be a writer.
Ironically after putting so much of myself into work that I didn’t care about or appreciate, my writing bug never went away, it bit harder.
I wrote often, well into the night, and after the sun came up (usually on the weekends, rarely on work nights). I became obsessed with finding time to write. Even to the point of avoiding parties with friends, spending time with my relatives, and even taking days off work just to write.
I created short stories, novellas, and even an entire novel series. However, I kept all these creations like dirty secrets hiding in my virtual filing cabinet (to this day). I was ashamed of my stories and the urge to be a writer.
The more I wrote, the angrier I became with my desk job. I thought I hid the anger from my co-workers, and for the most part, I did. And, then something inside of me snapped. I needed to publish my work, and quit this insurance gig.
I decided to send in a project to an agent for consideration. It took me 24-hours to get a rejection. The rejection just reinforced the idea that I wasn’t a writer but someone pretending to be a writer.
A few months after the initial rejection, I created a short story, self-edited it in about a month, then self-published it through Amazon. I had about six readers in the span of about two weeks. But, pulled the plug on the project and deleted the novella. It wasn’t my best work, and I wasn’t happy with the number of readers or lack thereof.
It was best that I focused on my humble job as an insurance professional.
Writing wasn’t my calling.
I just need to be like everyone else.
Keep my nose down.
Work hard to move up the corporate step ladder.
And, throw away that silly dream.
My brain and body weren’t having it. Suppressing the urge to write became harder with time. I started and deleted blogs on WordPress. Bought the Jeff Goins, Tribe Writers program and sped through the videos and projects while at work. And, I picked up every book on writing I could find via libraries and online. I even attended literary meet-ups in my community just to be around likeminded individuals.
Today, I struggle with a lack of confidence in my work and a sense of doubt about pursuing a writing career. I know that it takes work and dedication. And, writing is a lonely job. I don’t know what the future holds. But, I know that I need to go ahead and follow this calling.
How exactly do I plan on taking my writing more seriously and pursuing a business that is very personal?
I’m going to just do it.
Start small, of course. Write a blog post a week, even if it isn’t read. And, complete the edit of my current work-in-progress (WIP, going forward).
It’s a science-fiction novel about the difficulties of being in love with someone who isn’t completely human but learning to be comfortable with their alienness (if that’s a word).
This WIP I plan on producing by the end of this year, possibly the beginning of next year. I would love to have grown an audience by then.
I don’t have all the answers. But, I have a destination I’m working towards. The life I currently lead is one that doesn’t mesh with my desires to create. To feel more authentic with myself, I know that writing, and sharing my work will help me onto the path I need to be on.