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Discovering Ideas to Write About

Writing Prompts

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September 2009
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Twelve Suggestions to Inspire You

The need to be original or authentic can make creative writing difficult. One way to be original is to write about a new topic. Yet, most topics have been covered, such as suicide, death, divorced, unemployment, love, and so forth. Another way to be authentic is to cover a popular topic from a different angle or perspective. Whether you write about new or existing topic, you need an original idea to begin the writing process. Here are twelve suggestions that you can use to discover new ideas:

1. Read widely and deeply. By this, I mean that you ought to read a variety of nonfiction books, magazines, poetry, short stories, and novels. The more you read, the more you will learn about different subjects and topics. A good place to start is by reading The New Yorker (www.newyorker.com ) .Then you can use what you’ve read to write about something.

2. Keep a personal journal. Use this journal to record your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and personal experiences. When you need inspiration, reread your personal journal, and then write about what you find interesting.

3. Begin freewriting. Sit down with a pen and notebook, and then begin writing for 15 minutes without stopping. Write about whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit your work. Afterwards, review what you have written, searching for an interesting idea, topic, or theme. Then use this new information to write. For more information on how to use freewriting as a way to find ideas, you can read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

4. Engage in creative thinking. Ask “what if” questions. Brainstorm for new ideas. Change your perspective. Challenge your assumptions. Do some mindmapping. Use what you have gleaned from the creative thinking exercise to write a poem, short story, character sketch, personal essay, or article.

5. Do something new. Enrol a course, go to the movies, visit an art gallery, walk around the museum, take a vacation. Then use the experience to write something.

6. Observe the world around you. Seek out incongruity, absurdity, contradictions, inspiration. For instance, observer the seasons of the year. In autumn, you can experience the frost, changing colours of the leaves, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and first snowfall. What imagery do you see? Use these observations to write a poem, journal entry, article, and so on.

7. Make a mental note of unique personal experiences. Perhaps you attended the Super Bowl. Perhaps you received an award. Perhaps you purchased yourself a new car. Perhaps you lost your job, ended a marriage, or someone close to you has died. Use the experience to write something.

8. Capture your dreams. Keep a pen and notebook on your night table. When you wake up, try to remember a dream. Then jot down what you remember. If there is anything interesting or odd, write about it.

9. Use your imagination. Start by asking yourself hypothetical questions, such as “what if” questions. Use your answers to write something.

10. Write about your memories. What fond memories do you have? What were the happiest times in your life? What were the saddest times? What were the most stressful times? What were turning points in your life? For instance, you first job, a wedding, birth of a child, divorce, loss of job, a vacation, illness, or death.

11. Use photographs to inspire your creative spirit. A photograph captures a moment in time forever. It can often express what words cannot. Take your digital camera wherever you go. When you see something interesting, snap a picture. Or if you have a collection of old photos, look at them. What do you see? What memories, thoughts, feelings come to mind? Use the photograph to inspire you to write something.

12. Write about special occasions, milestones, and anniversaries. This past summer marked the 40th anniversary of the moonwalk and Woodstock. It also marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s  birthday. Writers used these occasions to write articles related to these occasions. You can do the same. Start by writing about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter.

Once you know how to find ideas, you will be able write about any topic that interests you. So, the next time you are without an idea, use one of these suggestions.

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1 Comment

  1. holy007lotus says:

    waw..

    That was nice

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