Coming Up with Writing Ideas by Shannon Reed

By admin
In Writers
Feb 16th, 2013

thinkThe quest for a new idea seems eternal for many writers. Thinking up something to write that is intriguing enough for you to actually want to put pen to paper does not have to be hard, but you do need to pay attention to the world around you. Bemoaning the difficulty of thinking of something new keeps you from recognizing hundreds of ideas around you every day.  So – no more complaining!  Start writing!  Here are some ways to open up your mind to great ideas!

  1. Look around. Let your mind wander over the world you see in front of you – people, places and things. If a coworker or passer-by doesn’t spark your interest, maybe an online advertisement, animal on a leash, or a traffic signal will. If you aren’t intrigued by what’s on your right, look on your left. Get out of the habit of staring at the ground or straight ahead. Get out of the bus a stop early, or park your car in a different place, walk and look.

  2. What’s on your mind – memories, worries, hopes, dreams? If you’re a nonfiction writer, can you use your special hope to spark a topic for an article? If you write plays, can you take a situation from your past and adapt it? If you write fiction, can one of your characters worry about the same thing as you?

  3. Choose your opposite. Think about a person who is nothing like you in any known way. Now start writing for or about them. You can adapt this to other folks in your life (if you have the perfect child – lucky! – write about the bad seed!).

  4. Flip through a newspaper or watch the evening news. What are the stories that aren’t being told? What do the people on the screen have to say after the camera clicked off or the reporter walked away? Don’t focus only on the front-page tragedy; think about the lighter human-interest stories too.

  5. What is knowledge that you use every day but that might be unusual to others? Do you work in a hospital and can explain how drugs are administered? Are you a grocery store clerk and know why there’s never any milk on Fridays?

  6. Listen to music. If the rhythm doesn’t inspire you, maybe a lyric will. Write it down. Then keep writing. It will go somewhere.

  7. Ask your friends and family what you should write about. Give their ideas a try. You might go somewhere interesting. I wrote a full-length farce based on one friend’s sarcastic suggestion of a title (Stigmata! A Comedy in Three Acts in Two Acts! (With Music!)).

  8. Keep a stack of postcards on hand. Flip through them until one catches your eye. Let it inspire your writing. Or go to a museum and look at a piece of art you really like. Jot down your thoughts. Go home and write.

  9. Eavesdrop at a coffee shop or restaurant. Write down a word or a sentence that intrigues you. Remove it from the present situation and put it in another context and start writing. Or, if you write non-fiction, listen for questions that people are asking or the topics on everyone’s tongue. What can you information can you bring or find to help?

  10. Think. Really, just think. Let your mind wander. Inhale. Exhale. Type or write. Keep going.

© Shannon Reed is a teacher, playwright and essayist, who is at work on her first book. She is available for freelance writing assignments and can be reached at Visit her webpage,, for updated information on upcoming productions.

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Inside, you’ll find 15 practices to postpone your writing procrastination. You’ll receive the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion.

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