How Do You Generate Your Next Great Novel Idea?
When people find out I’m a writer I often get asked how do I come up with ideas for my fiction books,
My answer is an emphatic, I don’t know. They just come to me. It’s not like I sit down at my desk and tell myself I’m not leaving until I’ve come up with an idea. Though I often sit at my desk and tell myself, I can’t leave until I’ve figured out what happens next.
The idea is easy. Figuring out how it evolves into a novel, not so much.
When I decided to pursue this writing thing several years ago, the hardest part was settling on ONE idea and seeing it all the way through. I have shiny object syndrome in this respect.
So many books to write, so little time.It also doesn’t help that I’m my most creative when it’s most inopportune.I get tons of ideas when I’m not able to write them down right away, such as at yoga or in the shower. Then I’m faced with the task of remembering them long enough to write them down. And it happens. A twenty-minute shower has probably lost me several best-seller ideas. I like to blame it on age.
The reason I have so many ideas when in these moments is because I’m relaxed and NOT TRYING to think. If you’re struggling with solidifying that one great idea, or you can’t figure out how your idea will work, or you know you have a book in you but just can’t figure out what the story is here are 5 tips that always help me when I’m stuck.
- Relax and stop thinking about it. This might seem counterproductive but as I said in the last paragraph it’s when we stop obsessing over a problem that an idea/solution comes to us. Go for a walk or take a nap (my favorite). Then come back refreshed and see where your mind takes you.
- Get out of your routine. Shake things up. If you usually go to Starbucks to write go to Dunkin Donuts. If you write in black font, try blue (I prefer green). If you type on your laptop, try writing longhand. Something that jars you out of your comfort zone and your slump. If you’re in a rut, you need to do something different even if it’s a tiny change.
- Read a book or watch a movie that’s in the genre you’re attempting to write. My dissertation chair told me when I was freaking out over finding a new revolutionary idea to write a 200-page paper on that there are few new ideas but rather it’s about finding a different spin on an old idea. It’s the same in fiction. Love stories are all the same. Girl meets boy. Boy breaks her heart. She plots revenge. They make up and live happily ever after. It’s what happens at each of those points that make the story. Watching or reading (I prefer reading) how someone else does it might spark your imagination.
- Try your hand at free writing. Sometimes we get tied up in our own mind. We want to have the perfect words to put down on paper, and when we can’t think of those perfect words, we do nothing. Tell yourself you are going to write a piece of flash fiction (500 words or less) and then go to Facebook and the first post you see make a story about it. This silly, mindless exercise will get your creative juices flowing, and you never know where that story will take you.
- Sit and write for your daily scheduled time even if you are just writing a grocery list. Don’t have a daily scheduled time to write? You need one. I’ll be writing about why this is important in a couple weeks. Don’t let yourself off the hook or a day you don’t write will turn into a week, a month. And you don’t want to go there.
Chances are you’re too hard on yourself. Ease up. The idea will come.
What are some ways you get your ideas flowing?
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