Ideas are everywhere. Maybe they come when a guy cuts you off on the freeway, or when you see an ad that sums up your character’s mantra. The universe is filled with ideas when our creative wells have run dry. We just need to be receptive.
1) Emotion. Ask yourself: What has hurt you? Who has hurt you? What makes you laugh? What makes you angry? Dig deep to find the things that still stick with you even after you’ve grown. The seed of an emotion can begin a story.
2) Words. Sometimes all it takes is a word to generate something big. I love to play with words. Single words, two word titles, phrases, pitches for possible stories, and lines of dialogue from nowhere. Words without a specific story are free and often give me the gift of a title and/or idea. Get out a notebook and let the words fly!
3) Pictures. Photographs from my childhood often fill me with ideas. It’s the way they are loaded with emotion, memories, unsaid things and untold stories. Other people’s pictures can do the same thing. If I have a character and I need to focus on her I scour magazines until I find her. Then I make a collage with all her stuff. Play and the ideas come!
4) Stories. Books, T.V., film, and music can generate ideas. It’s scary to know that someone’s work gives you ideas, but that’s the nature of creativity. Unless you are copying a work, which is illegal and unethical, being inspired by another work is a wonderful surprise. It means you are receptive.
5) Life. Sometimes you may feel washed out, dried up, and just plain empty. Remember that you have to refill your creative well. You can’t be receptive to ideas if you are exhausted. Remember what feeds you (other than chocolate) and do those things. Hike, talk with your writing group, take a course, paint, cook, read, and try something new.