As writers, most of us know what it is to have ongoing character dialogue running through our mind at all times and story arcs cresting and falling with each new thought. Many of us have experienced writing one story only to have to break to scribble down an idea for another one.
Writers have the privilege of being people with imaginations unbound. We have the proclivity to create and concoct other worlds filled with people and happenings born from our ability to make believe.
Every writer has experienced a time, however, when the characters are quiet, the plot stands still, and there exists not one story idea. Unlike writer’s block, which can only occur once you have started to write, idea block happens before your fingers even touch the keyboard.
To many writers who are used to mentally wading through an abundance of ideas, a sudden dearth of them can be frustrating and discouraging. Yet, it is a part of the creative process and can occur for various—and common—reasons.
There are ways to overcome these blocks, jump start your imagination, and generate new story ideas. First you must take a deep breath, relax, and read the follow 6 simple and effective ways to break the “idea block.”
1. Rip them from the Headlines: Truth is stranger than fiction so start reading…newspapers, magazine articles, and blog posts. Discover your fictionalized world inside the real one. This doesn’t mean taking a real event, changing the names, and stamping your name on the book. It does mean, however, that inspiration is all around you—look.
2. See the Idea: If a picture is worth a thousand words then why not use one? Use visuals to stimulate story ideas. Look at photographs and “picture” in your mind the story.
3. Make A List of Words: One of the reasons you are a writer is because you love words, and remember that without them no story would exist. So create a list of words—ones that sound beautiful to you; have meaning for you; incite ideas in you. Then allow the story to flow from the medium used to create it.
4. Use Prompts: Sometimes all it takes is one word, one line, or one plot idea to produce a flood of creativity that quickly forms into a story. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of sites that can help. Writer’s Den and Writer’s Digest are just two suggestions.
5. Use Randomness to select your Course: Close your eyes and point to the map now you have a place. Again, close your eyes and flip to a word in the dictionary, let it set your course. Do the same with character names, plot structure, and story direction. Sometimes what seems random can become purposeful.
6. Write your first line: The first line of a book is not unlike the first step in a journey and no road can be traveled without that first step. Sometimes it is all that is needed to give you direction. A friend of mine once told me that she thought a particular color was so beautiful it made her want to swallow it so it’s radiance would fill her. Her words inspired the first line of my book, “Let the Willows Weep,” which is “The day he left is the day I swallowed red.”
Use these story starters and before you know it your ideas will again flow faster than you can type.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.