Monday, 20 February 2012

How I Write - Finding Ideas

Hello my lovely readers! Today is the first post (or second if you count the names post) of my new How I Write series. From this day forth, I will be posting a writing advice/tips/random things about writing every alternate Monday :D I'm doing this because so many people enjoyed my post about names and I thought to myself 'hey, they liked that! Let's give them more crumbles of tasty wordy goodness!' And so, here I am. Writing this. Like a boss.

So, today's post is about ideas. They're pesky little creatures, aren't they? Playing hide and seek in our brains, running in and out of our thoughts. Mine have the annoying habit of appearing seconds before I go to sleep, ensuring that by the morning they are lost forever. But a writer has to have ideas. Any creative person needs to have ideas, or else they will have nothing to do. When I find myself short of ideas, this is what I do.

1. Take a shower.
It sounds crazy, but it works. In modern times, we are often so busy, we don't have time to sit and think. In a shower, we are free from responsibilities and we can let out brains roam free and stumble upon ideas locked in our subconscious. I also find that the hot water makes my brain more active, meaning it's easier to think of things. If you don't have a shower/can't be bothered taking a shower, do something else where you can let your mind wander. Wash some dishes. Clean some wellies. Stand in the rain. And yes, these are all water related. I like water. It helps me THINK. *You can also get amazing waterproof notepads for writing down your shower ideas :D I. Want. One.*

2. Do some exercise.
Writers have the horrible habit of sitting around, doing nothing. It's not there fault - after all, sitting in a chair with a computer in front of them is their job. But  when you're sitting around doing nothing, ideas don't flow very well. I know this because I have done it, and trust me, it's not desirable. Usually all you need is some exercise. It keeps you fit, gives you something to do, and most importantly, it gets those hormones running around like crazy. Adrenaline. Other stuff. And that increases activity in your brain, which increases the number of ideas you get. So go for a walk, or play some Just Dance 3 - whatever it is, your writer's block will fly out the window.

3. Sleep on it.
This is both a metaphor and not a metaphor. First, the metaphor. Sleeping on something can help you reach a  decision, as the subconscious is the boss when you're asleep. It calls the shots and it decides what you're going to do. Sleeping can also give you more energy, which is good for brainwaves.
The non-metaphor bit is also a bit crazy, but it works. Sometimes. In the while that I have been writing Wolfbane, I have had writers block. I have no idea where anything is going and what is going to happen. What to do? Write the chapter title, or the character's name, or the setting, or even a word or phrase that sparked your imagine on a bit of paper, and put it under your pillow. And then sleep on it. Now, this is a handy hint I read about in the Writers Forum magazine. It sometimes works, and it sometimes doesn't. But we all need to sleep, and by trying it you aren't losing anything. So the next time you have writers block, give it a go. It might help.

Sometimes all you need to do is not write for a while. Do something else, and forget about your writers block, or your yearning to write. Go parachuting. Read a book. Bake some cookies. Fly to the moon and back on a rocketship. It doesn't matter. You need to kick that badboy from your brain and let your mind do something different for a while. And who knows? Maybe you can write about what you did, or maybe your brain will be so thankful for a rest it will give you a gleaming gem of an idea.

5. Finally, live your life.
If you sit in a room staring at some walls day after day after day, you aren't going to be writing very well. Why? Because to write you need experiences! You need to know things and do things. For example, if one of your characters is skydiving or eating a pot of turtle soup, how can you tell the reader what that's like if you haven't done it? (I am in no way endorsing eating turtles. It was just the first thing that came to me) So,to summarise, get out there and do something, for crying out loud! Your characters will thank you. Your novel/story/novella will thank you. Do anything and everything that is outside your comfort zone. Not only will you increase your confidence but ideas will come easier after doing such a brilliant experience.

There are thousands more things that can help - just Google 'getting ideas' and you will have a treasure trove of hints and tips. These are just my top top top four ways to extract those naughty creatures from your head. Good luck!


Cat@LifeThroughACat'sEyes said...

Can't wait for the other posts in this series! This was really helpful because I've been thinking about writing a novella for a while, but struggle to come up with ideas. :S I'll try these tips >_<

Caroline said...

Thanks Jenni! This was super helpful!!! :DD I'll have to try some of these tips.

Rose said...

yeah, you'd BETTER not be endorsing eating turtle!! *evil face*

this was really helpful!! THANKWA m'dear! (:

Jess said...

This is really great...I am an aspiring writer myself, and I have recently completed a short story about...well, it's hard to explain. What I do is I come up with random character whenever they pop into my head, then when I get a good idea, i just insert the person. What I usually do is i get a sliver of an idea, then spend months planning my story and building on it, then i pick my characters, decide on their reactions to the story, and away we go!