From Cheryl's Writing Crate
My best essay and column ideas have always come to me when I wasn’t even trying to write. For this very reason, I always have a handy pad of paper and pen close by, including in the car, the bathroom, my nightstand, definitely my pocketbook, in the kitchen, and finally the laundry room. As any writer will tell you, when a brilliant idea strikes you can’t rely on memory to get it on to paper no matter how focused and detail oriented you are, especially if you have 8 busy kids and two feisty dogs like I do. I am reaching for one of my pad and pens on a very regular basis so I can add any spark of an idea down immediately before it’s forgotten.
Last week I was waiting for my son at baseball practice and witnessed another mother (who I do not know) shaving her arms in the car while she waited for her son. After I finished laughing I grabbed my notebook that I keep in the glove compartment and wrote fast and furiously for several minutes because it sparked an idea for the novel I’m writing. You just never know when inspiration will strike—so be ready!
Here are a few more places and ideas I go to help kick start my writing:
Headlines. Reading the news, whether in newspapers, your favorite online news source or on television can give a writer many ideas—particularly mystery writers. News stories about mysterious disappearances, crimes and murders can easily inspire a mystery writer to get a story going.
Writing prompts. Writing prompts are popular as a means to get creative juices flowing. There are hundreds of websites that provide writing prompts including Writer’s Digest. Writing prompts can be challenging too, particularly if they are one or two word prompts.
Other people’s stories. It’s actually amazing to me how often my friends and family offer me a story idea because they know I am a writer. Anecdotes told by friends can be inspiring, as well as listening to their interesting stories from their childhood, or a harrying experience they’ve had or someone in their family had. Listen when friends tell stories from their lives, you may find some buried treasure that you weren’t expecting.
Wal-Mart and other Errand Stops. With 8 kids, I spend lots of time grocery shopping, running errands, attending sporting events and meetings and everything else in between that we parents do to keep their families going strong. I have found more ideas than I will ever be able use in one lifetime in places that involve my kids or running errands—and I’m never bored in the process!
Do you have a special method for coming up with ideas to write about? Feel free to share them in the comments section.