I have never understood people who say “I’d love to write a book, BUT I don’t know what to write about.” I don’t know how I manage to nod my head like I understand because inside my jaw is to the ground.
Maybe you have this problem. My best friend even has this problem. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just don’t get it.
Ideas come to me like bugs on sugar. I have dropped more projects than I’d like to admit due to SNIs (Shiny New Ideas). I have files upon files of ideas. There were so many (with super cryptic titles that even I didn’t know what they were about) that I had to divide them into favorites, maybes, horrible, sounds too much like a published book, and books in a series. I haven’t reorganized them lately because it would take me forever.
I can understand not being able to find subplots, but basic ideas? I am completely dumbfounded.
Since there are people out there who feel this way, I thought I would mention a few ways I find inspiration.
Caution: You may soon be overwhelmed with amazing ideas that your fingers fall off from all the writing you’ll do, and you will hate me for making you see all the possible story ideas around you. Heck I hate myself some days (especially during tests) and a new ideas pops up out of nowhere. How am I supposed to take a test on biology when I have characters that NEED to be written about?
Music- I think this is a biggy. Songs are like shorter, catchy novels. A ton of songs are based real life experience. If I remember correctly, The Script (who sings “Breakeven” and “For the First Time”) named their band the Script because they realized all of their songs had a beginning, middle and end. I know a lot of people find an idea THEN find music that goes with it, but sometimes I do the opposite. I was in the car when a song came on the radio that would be an amazing story beginning. I’ve currently listened to it a billion times today even though I don’t intend to start it in the near future. Some days, I put my iPod on shuffle, and an old song I barely remember (but you know I can magically sing along especially for “Beautiful Soul” by Jesse McCartney. Don’t pretend that the second you hear that song you can’t sing along to every word) comes on. Boom! Light bulb turns on above my head. Instant idea.
Places- Street names and neighborhood names (do they have an official name?) are really nice for characters and setting. There is a neighborhood I pass on my way to school that became a major building block for a series of mine. It was one of those things I saw, and it just clicked. Street names are also fun since some of them are named after people. I like to play around with street names and go “what type of person would be named _____?” Sometimes all you need is a character who just starts the idea snowball.
Pictures- On my personal blog, I had a segment called A Pictures Worth a Thousand Words as a way for writers to come up with ideas from pictures. I really believe the statement that a pictures worth a thousand words. I have folders on my computer dedicated solely to pictures that inspire me. I have people, places, situations, love, clothes, makeup, hair, etc pictures that just beg to be written. What were the people in the picture doing? What is their life story? What if _____ happened to them?
Dreams- This is the hardest one for me personally. I don’t really remember my dreams. I think some people keep a dream journal to record their dreams in case something could be used as a novel. If I remember correctly, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga was based on a dream. This doesn’t work for everyone. I can only remember two dreams that I would ever consider making a real story, but for some people, this is where the gold comes from.
Around and About- This is the hardest for me to explain. I guess this is something that comes from experience though this has always been a gimme for me. Basically, this is where you see something, and it clicks. An idea snowballs from a simple phrase or quote. I guess this kinda just sums up everything above. Over time the ideas will just come from the weirdest of places. They’ll attack your mind. One day one of these ideas might be THE idea that changes you from writing as a hobby to a writer. Sounds scary write (yes I know it should be right, but I couldn’t resist the pun).
I hope you find THE idea.
Now I must sing along with Beautiful Soul. Yes, I remember every word even though I haven’t heard it in forever.
How do you come up with ideas? Do you have problem with coming up with ideas?
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