Hey Bookish People,
I’m outlining my next book and it’s gotten me thinking about the things I do to generate more ideas and I thought that I’d share those with you today. This is an area that I see a lot of people struggle with and I don’t think that we have to at all. I haven’t believed in writer’s block in a long time and I’ve come up with a toolbox to overcome obstacles in my path when they arise. Outlining an entire novel is full of those obstacles so it’s a great time to compile this list!
- Free writing by hand- This method can take a while but I find it produces some interesting things. Free writing is just sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind even if it doesn’t relate to what you’re writing. Sit down for at least ten minutes and scribble down anything that comes to mind. You can and should start with a topic that you’re interested in exploring if you have one. I find that this is a great way to start ideas flowing. I’ve had several character breakthroughs with this method in the last week.
- Do unrelated art- I’ve found that I like watercoloring quite a bit. Silence and using my brain in an unexpected way will often help me generate ideas.
- Read- Then read some more. Fill up your brain with other writing so that you have something to work with.
- Go on an artist field trip- I have a whole post about this which you can see here.
- Free type- It’s the same ideas as free writing by hand but I find them to be distinctly different experiences. If you’re a good typist your brain will be forced to work at a quicker pace than it does writing by hand and I will switch between the two when I have a particularly tough problem to work through.
- Hashtags- Use your social media habit to your benefit. Search an interesting topic on Instagram by hashtag. The imagery should provide some interesting writing prompts.
- Mind maps- MY FAVORITE. Get a piece of paper, start with a central topic, and then map out related words or ideas for several layers. When you’re done circle whatever catches your eye and work all those ideas together into something awesome. I’ll be writing a post about this later because I love it so much.
- Sleep on it- Don’t obsess about a problem you’re working through in your writing. Give your brain a break and take a nap or go to sleep for the night. There’s a good chance your brain will come with something overnight. I usually free write to shake the ideas loose.
- Take a walk in silence- Our brains hate to be bored and when you’re walking without a podcast or music in your ear your brain will start to work to entertain itself.
- Take a Shower- Same for showering. I swear my brain just enjoys punishing the silence by making sure my ideas come up when I’m washing my hair and can’t jot down a note immediately.
- Make a list- When you can’t come up with one idea it’s time to come up with 10. Can’t decide how the chapter is going to end? Give yourself the challenge of coming up with 5 or more endings. Allow yourself to make them as weird or outlandish as possible. It can ease the pressure on that one perfect next move in your story if you have to come up with a lot more ideas and it’ll likely produce something workable.
So there’s my list. Really I think that all of these are some form of forced boredom and changing the way your brain is thinking which is what most of us need to work through a tough spot. If you have any strategies for idea generation for your writing or outlining then leave me a comment. I’m always open to growing my toolbox! If you like the strategies I wrote about here then be sure to follow the blog!