Finding Ideas

This page was originally written for the 2011 Daily Random Word Challenge.  Although it has a number of good ideas still here, it needs to be rewritten and updated.

The Daily Post asked for feedback on where we get our ideas from.  There are a number of excellent comments there, ranging from specific themes to being aware of life (best way I can describe it).

I’d been wanting to share for a while how I’m coming up with my ideas and thought now would be a good time to do that.

I use a random word generator to come up with the words, checking to not duplicate something that’s already been used.  Surprisingly, that has happened twice so far.  I generally take whatever comes up – part of the fun is being creative on this.  I scroll through the word types so that by the end of each seven days, a word is picked from each category.

Sometimes the ideas just flow, especially when I’m looking at my photos.  But not always and for that I try the following:

  • Look up the meaning of the word in Wiktionary.
  • Use Wikipedia to get some background information.
  • Look up quotes that use the word.  I might use the quote in my story, sometimes it is just a tool to get my ideas flowing.  My favorite quote place is Brainy Quote, but you can find all kinds of quotes by using Google.
  • Look up the word with Google and just see what happens.
  • Look through my journals for something I may have written with a theme similar to the word (i.e., for the backspace posting, I looked for things I’d expressed regrets about).
  • I haven’t had to do this yet, but if I get really stuck, I’ll brainstorm it with my husband.  He has a good sense of humor and is usually up to making suggestions.  I may not like his ideas, but he’s a good resource to get my brain unstuck.
  • And sometimes I just sit at the table and look out the window to see if the backyard has answers for me :)

Once I get my ideas flowing, I develop them into a story with a beginning and end, as well as an explanation of why it is important to me and what I’d like for my family and friends to remember.  I use the writer’s favorite five W’s – who, what, when, where, and why.  They’re a reliable tool and give good structure to any story.

How do you do it?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

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