It happens to new writers and published authors alike: You’ve set aside time, but instead of writing your next short story, poem, or chapter of your book, you’re staring at a blank page (or screen). You know it’s important to stick to your writing schedule, but when you call on your muse, it goes straight to voicemail. Don’t give up and start binge-watching the latest series that’s streaming! At Writer’s Relief, we know the best ways to jump-start your inspiration so you can come up with new writing ideas.
7 Ways to Come Up With New Writing Ideas
Use writing prompts: One of the best ways to come up with new writing ideas is to use writing prompts and story starters. A quick Internet search will put plenty of writing prompts right at your fingertips—choose one that intrigues you and is maybe even a bit outside your comfort zone. Don’t worry about editing or making it perfect; just start writing! What you write for the prompt may result in nothing more than an exercise. But it might also turn into a great story, poem, or story arc for your novel. Or it could inspire an entirely different idea that works even better!
Get outside: Sometimes nature is your best source of inspiration. If you’ve been sitting indoors for too long (as many of us have!), it will do your brain and your creativity some good to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine. A walk, a bike ride, or even just relaxing outside could be exactly what you need to generate some new ideas.
Read more: To be a good writer—read, read, read! Reading a great novel is like participating in a writing apprenticeship: It can show you how to plot, build characters, and set scenes. And poets: Don’t skip this step! A poetry collection, literary journals, or a chapbook can also offer you new ideas. Read widely and include works in genres you don’t typically read. You may be surprised to find your creativity reinvigorated.
Ask “what if”: A clever way to generate ideas is to ask yourself the “what if?” question. What if dinosaurs had never become extinct? What if a character in your short story never met the love of their life? What if your characters were stranded on an island instead of at the mall? Sometimes, the wackier the scenario, the better. Have fun with it! The idea is to start getting words on the page, then let your creativity take over.
Turn to who/what you know: Character creation can often be the hardest part of writing. Maybe you have a plot, but no characters. Or maybe you just don’t know where to begin and a character study would help. Rather than starting from scratch, base a character on someone you know or have seen. Use the quirks and characteristics of those around you to build strong, believable characters. The inspiration you need is already filed in your memory.
The same goes for settings: Base locations, buildings, and landscapes on places you’ve seen. The seashell in your poem could be similar to one you found at the beach a few years ago. The coffee shop where your characters meet can have the same types of fixtures, tables, and chairs as the one you visit each day for your daily dose of java.
Talk to a critique partner: Writing is a solitary effort, but coming up with ideas doesn’t have to be. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone from your writing group and bounce ideas back and forth. Getting another point of view can provide insights and inspiration that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.
Try something new: If you usually write short stories, try writing some poetry. Or, if you’re stuck on the next chapter of your romance novel, try writing a short story in another genre. You could also take one of your existing chapters and create a stand-alone excerpt to submit as a short story! Poets who write free verse might try penning a rhyming poem, a sonnet, or some slam poetry.
You might want to give freewriting a try. This stream-of-consciousness writing exercise can help you break through writer’s block by letting your mind roam wherever it wants. You might end up with gobbledygook—but you might also find the new idea you’re looking for!
By using these tips and trying something different, you’ll find it easier to come up with exciting, new writing ideas. And once you have an idea, you and your muse will be back on speaking terms—and you can get back to writing!
Question: Which one of these tips will you try when you need new writing ideas?