Last night, right after I got off of work, I turned on some music and took a hot shower. While in the shower and listening to a song (one that has always been one of my favorites since it came out a decade ago), a small spark of an idea ignited in my storyteller mind. For a few minutes, I stewed over the idea and came up with a general plot along with the backstory of the main character. As soon as I had this, I quickly got out of the shower, dried off, and wrote down everything I had thought of in the Evernote app (great for any creative person who has trouble keeping their ideas in order) on my phone. A few hours later, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, more ideas for this story made themselves known to me. Once again, I pulled up Evernote and began to write down some events and an unusually detailed outline of the first act of the story.
This morning, I began to think about how many times ideas have come to me at the most random of times while I am in the most random of places. I also began to think about the different things I have heard so many writers and storytellers say about ideas, particularly author Stephen King.
“I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.” – Stephen King, from StephenKing.com
Down below, I am going to share different methods I have tried and the methods of different authors I have come across when it comes to getting new ideas.
1. Do Nothing. I don’t actually mean do nothing, but then again, maybe I do. Many of my ideas have come to me when I am doing nothing that requires me to dedicate my entire thought process to. And yes, that includes even thinking of new ideas. Take a shower (even when you don’t need to), do the dishes, go for a walk. Each of these activities allow about 95% of your brain to roam free and search the inner caverns your wonderful brain. I’m just coming up with a number off the top of my head of course, but you get the idea. As such, ideas that may be festering in the back of your imagination very well may come to the forefront.
2. Read/Watch the News. This method is best for writers who are more into the thriller, mystery, literary genres, but events that you come across while reading/watching the local or national news is a great idea. There are new things happening each day, and some of them are bound to be worth making into a novel or a script.
3. Think of Past Experiences. Think of things that have happened to you during your childhood, while you were a teenager, or even while you are an adult. There are so many great ideas waiting to be discovered if you just think back to the times when something exciting happened. Did you have a boring childhood where nothing very exciting ever happened? That’s okay. Think about the small lake hidden in the lush green forest behind your house that you found with your best friend when you were eight. Does some sort of witch or a terrible monster live there? Think about the creepy old lady down the street. Is she a witch or a terrible monster? Even the smallest of things can be made into the greatest ideas.
4. Listen to Music. This is one of my most common methods. I really couldn’t even begin to tell you how many ideas for story lines, or titles for books that have spawned story lines, I have come up with because of one song or just a singular line or lyrics that stuck out to me.
Do you have any other tactics of coming up with new and fresh ideas? Let me know in the comments below!