Ideas are everywhere. Just look at the people around you – there is something interesting or something dull or boring about every person you meet.
Your mom might be a pianist that might have become famous had she pursued her desire instead of giving up the fame and glory to start a family.
Your father might have been a famous astronaut if he hadn’t had a heart attack the morning he was to go to the moon. Or your handicapped sister entered a wheel chair racing marathon and came in first place. Even if she’d placed last place, there is still an interesting story to be told from the viewpoint of your sister.
Ideas are endless – they’re everywhere. Even the neighborhood dog that bites people and still allowed to run loose in the neighborhood hides a story just waiting for someone to find it. Suppose the mean dog attacks a little child two or three while it is outside. Suppose it attacks an old lady walking down the sidewalk, causing her to fall down and break her hip while it bites and nips at her face and forearms.
Your childhood, your parents’ childhood, ideas are everywhere. Take a look around you and write down every possible idea you can think of to write about. If you can write out a grocery list, you can write out an idea list.
I have found that brainstorming occasionally refreshes my mind and gives me the freedom of really using my brain. My idea list usually is recorded in a spiral notebook – I have several that are already filled up.
There have been three tragedies over the last five years that occurred in my family involving four of my children, with three of those four now dead. They were freak accidents that happened at different times. This last tragedy that involved my teen-aged daughters Brandie and Melanie sparked several writing ideas – dealing with a brain injured child, sibling death, overcoming tragedies, when your child dies, safety of seat backs or lack thereof, air bags – the pros and cons – choosing the best brain surgeon – the list goes on and on.
From this tragedy, one of my daughters named Melanie, only seventeen, lived only six days after the wreck. Her brain stroked and died. The other daughter, named Brandie, eighteen, remained in a coma for the next three weeks – doctors feared the worst for her – they counselled with us and told us the things we might expect when she woke up – they feared she wouldn’t remember any of us or anything about her past life. It was the hardest not knowing because there was the constant reminder that she might not wake up at all. She took pneumonia while she was in a coma and that was life-threatening in itself. Loosing one daughter was enough. We were holding onto Brandie with every bit of love, prayer and hope that we had. Miraculously, she pulled through and spent the next few months in rehab. She is almost totally recovered after the wreck but the mental and emotional scars it has left on her and our family will probably never heal. Burying Melanie was a horror story in itself.
From this tragedy stems my novel Till Death Do Us Part – it is on the market today with Harlequin Romance. From this same tragedy, several articles, short stories and poems have been written, some even published.
Ideas are all around you. Look around.
As a child, my favorite book was Harriet, the Spy. Later, in my adult years, they made it into a movie. It was one of my favorite stories. Using a spiral notebook, like the little girl character named Harriet, was her way of collecting ideas and spying on people. Even for writers today, it is still easiest and least expensive way to record ideas, story plots or just for brainstorming ideas. Look in every crook and cranny and you’ll find something to write about.
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Below are several tips for finding ideas to write about.
1) Old ideas rewritten become new ideas – search through your files and find something you’ve written that has been published, or not, and rewrite it with a fresh, new approach and new ideas.
2) Brainstorm whatever comes to mind – grab something off your list and brainstorm on that subject matter for ten minutes. Keep trying this until you have several ideas that are worth writing about.
3) Read someone else’s short story and rewrite it to suit you. How many times did you read something and hate the ending or how they handled the whole story?
4) Watch an episode of Golden Girls and write a new millennium version. How old are they now? Is Sophia in a nursing home or has she passed away? Is Blanche still a slut? Are any of the Golden Girls still working? Who knows? You might even get to direct your own series someday!
5) Search through various magazines and newspapers and find a topic that interests you. Before reading their version, write your own and compare the two when you’re done. Chances are, yours is better – fresher. Get it ready to send to another magazine that accepts the same type of material.
6) Browse writer’s guidelines.
7) Write in your journal on a regular basis. Story ideas are usually there somewhere.
8) Attend a writer’s workshop or writing group – you’ll be amazed at the ideas floating around.
Your own life is a storehouse for ideas. They are old ideas, but given a new twist from a different writer, they become new ideas. It’s up to you to capture one and make it your own. A little creativity on an old subject can go a long way. One idea can be written many different ways. Once, I looked through my filing cabinet – there were eighteen articles I had written on the subject of writer’s block. They were all different – even in length. But they were all about one main idea. Needless to say, I don’t need to write about that subject again for a long time!
If you find yourself asking “What do I write about?” the answer is simple – write about what you know. Take an old idea and write into a new one.