Stuck For An Idea?

We’ve all been there at some point or another. We want to write, but nothing comes to us. Everything that does come to mind seems trite, boring, maybe even repetitive or used up. At times we stare at the blank page for hours on end, willing an idea for a story or a poem or an article to come to us. When nothing comes, we doubt ourselves as writers and we wonder if maybe we’ll never have a good idea again.

The good news is, there are ways to get the creative juices flowing again. And none of them involve sitting in front of a computer or notebook for hours hoping an idea will just pop up. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Instead of worrying about the problems you are dealing with, psychologists recommend finding something else to focus on. It’s not entirely clear why, but when the mind is unfettered and is free to roam or hone in on something other than a problem you’re dealing with, a solution often presents itself to you just when you least expect it.

When I’m stuck for an idea or experiencing writer’s block, I do anything but focus on the problem at hand for hours at a time. I’ll work on a blog post or another story. I’ll watch TV or read a good book. And if ideas don’t come after all that, I often find just going about my daily life is an inspiration. Some of my best ideas for stories occur during the semester. While at work or in my classes, a random thought, sometimes related to my coursework or the project I’m doing and sometimes not, will pop into my head and grab my attention. From that thought I can develop an idea, which turns into a story or article of some sort.

A great example of this happened in class a couple of weeks ago. During a discussion, one of my classmates made a comment about the Soviet Union in World War II and about D-Day. What he said so captivated me that it ended up being the foundation for a series of novels taking place in a dystopian communist nation (no idea when I’ll write them, but the fact is, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with them if I hadn’t been in that class on that day having that discussion and hadn’t seized on the thought when I least expected an idea to come to me).

Plenty of other authors are able to come up with ideas the same way, whether by taking classes, working, volunteering in the community, or finding some other hobbies or interests that occupy their time and allow the creative processes in their brains to do what they do naturally rather than being forced to produce something. It’s amazing what you can come up with when you try finding story ideas this way.

And if you do have an idea while pursuing this method, I highly recommend writing it down immediately. I write down all my ideas so that I don’t forget them, which Im prone to do. I even bought a little notebook the other day so I can write down ideas as they come to me and then put them down on a list on my flash drive when I’m at a computer so that I’ll remember them when I want to write them. (I used to just write on the back of my hand, but I’m kind of tired of seeing a bunch of ink scribbles covering my left hand.)

Categories: General Writing, Psychology of Writing & Publishing, The Writer & Author, Writer's Block & Burnout | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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14 thoughts on “Stuck For An Idea?

  1. Hello! I am a published author and think this site is a wonderful idea! I really like the design as well. Look forward to reading more on the blog ~

    Laura Yochelson @ lauraauthor.com

  2. Great post, very useful :) I keep notebooks everywhere, just to make sure I don’t miss out on an idea when it comes to me!

  3. I generally take a shower and that seems to work but you’re right. Walk away for awhile. Good post!

  4. I’ve also written ideas on my hand to remember them. :D

    Some of my best ideas came while listening to someone in a discussion during class when I was in college. Today it’s conversations I either hear around me or have with someone. It’s funny how just a simple word or phrase someone uses sparks the creative part of the mind.

    I love your notebook idea. I need to get a small one for my purse so when I’m out, I can jot it down. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Top post. I’m right with you. If you want to get ideas out of your brain you have to put inspiration in. I find that having a couple of projects going at once also helps.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • Thank you. And you know, I tried working on multiple projects at once last semester. With my schoolwork though I think it’s better to take one project at a time. Maybe when I graduate I might try doing multiple projects at once again.

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