This article is by Laura Jorgensen.
What is the impetus that gets a writer writing? Why do people even start writing? And after they’ve decided to make that plunge, how do they keep coming up with new ideas?
For me, I love stories. I studied English Literature in college so that I would be able to read books and have it count for something. I started writing because I felt like I had my own stories that needed to be shared. It’s fun to make and meet new characters, build worlds, and live a life that you probably couldn’t otherwise. When an idea comes easily (i.e. not forced) it is referred to as inspiration, and it can strike anywhere. I’ve gotten ideas while driving (little scary writing them down), in the middle of church, in the shower. My writing journal is packed with little one or two sentence, or even word, reminders of ideas that I tried to preserve to use in my story later, or even start a new story.
But inspiration and I have a love-hate relationship because sometimes ideas will flow freely, even if the ideas aren’t very good, and other times they can be pretty scarce, leaving me dry for months at a time. I’m sure all writers experience this at some point in their careers. So what can you do to get out of a funk and get the creative juices flowing again?
Quite honestly, I’m not sure.
What sparks an imagination so that the words will just pour out of you? If I knew that I could make some serious money. Instead all I can offer is advice on how you can foster an environment and attitude to make it more likely that inspiration will strike:
- Write. A lot. I know you always hear this, but that probably means that there’s some truth to it. Because if you’re not writing then you’re not in that mode of thinking. Instead you’re thinking about dinner and walking the dog and that random stain in your car that you still have no idea how it got there. and you know what will happen. You’ll most likely start getting inspiration about those things instead of your writing. So even if everything you write is trash, you still need to be thinking and doing it….otherwise you’re taking away any major chance you have of experiencing a breakthrough.
- Read. A lot. It doesn’t even really matter what you read. Indie author Amanda Hocking relates how “I came across a few lines on Wikipedia (everything on there is true) from a bit of Scandinavian folklore. It was two sentences, but that was it. That was the idea for Switched.” You can read from books within your genre, or just the newspaper, but read and learn from others.
- Attend writing conferences and possibly even writing groups. I attended a writing conference back in February and afterward I was super pumped to write, not just on my WIP, but I got some new ideas from the panelists too. If you are around the right kinds of writers, there can definitely be some synergy for new ideas, and expansion of old. That said, not every group of writers will mesh with you. Study it out, and leave if you need to. Plus don’t spend all your time with other writers. You still have to put words on paper and that is usually best done alone.
- Take a class. Sometimes having others give you outlines and criteria for your writing makes it easier to write. It can also force you to write in a new way, expanding your horizons, portfolio and skills. Also you’ll have to have someone review your work while it’s in progress, which can be quite helpful in keeping you from going too far off track from what makes sense to others.
- Record your ideas. One of the most frustrating things about inspiration is it can leave almost as fast as it comes leaving you scrounging your brain for hat perfect idea. And inspiration can come in almost any situation. It’s a good idea to keep a writing journal and pen close at hand so whenever the light bulb turns on, you can capture it before it goes out.
How do you develop new ideas? What sparks your imagination?
About the Author:
Laura Jorgensen grew up in the Seattle area. After an unusual education she graduated with a bachelors in English. She has a wide variety of work experience, from circus coach to librarian, and from recreation guide to editor. She is currently living in Utah with her husband and working at Cedar Fort Inc. as one of their Web Media Specialists.