We are all aware that sometimes you get stuck on ideas for your intended book. It’s normal. Sure enough, your creativity is not in doubt, but more often than you appreciate, it drips from the tap rather than flow at full speed. Other times, you create new ideas but then find yourself unable to take them on from there. Those few lines are hardly going to magically magnify themselves on their own, are they? They need you, but you’re just not sure how to expand them.
There are many different ideas that people have put forward. A few of them are:
- Write about your special interests
- Allow yourself to make random, free sketches
- Adopt mythology or history into your story
- Get inspiration by reading other works
- Keep a note with you, and put down ideas as they come
These are all great tips, and they have been presented by amazing people – among them, high-grade writers. But as you try these, remember to pay attention to yourself.
It’s your book, isn’t it? That means it’s a reflection of you. What people find in a book, all the good parts (and of course the bad), generally come from within the writer.
Pay attention to yourself, and the results might surprise you.
But what does this mean exactly, and how can you do it?
Turn your experiences into ideas
While getting back to my house one early morning, between 5 and 6am, I saw a mentally ill person in manky clothes moving at a brisk pace ahead of me (a very normal sight in this part of the world). Naturally, I put some distance between us and treaded very cautiously. Long story short, somewhere in the distance she gave a young man a huge slap in the face – literally. He jumped across a gutter, and still she confronted him. It quickly turned into a face-off, which ended only when the man broke off whippy branches from a guava tree and managed to scare her off.
I didn’t forget that scene in a hurry. Not long afterwards I wrote a story about it. Different times while writing the story, I played around with the plot. I wasn’t always so sure how to present it, but I knew I was always heading to one end – a scene where an insane woman gives a young man a slap in the face on a road. Somehow, that kept me really confident about the story. It made me feel like I was simply writing about an actual, real-life event and all I needed to do was put it down in words. I felt really good doing that.
Do you have an experience of being pursued by a troublesome dog? Did your sister get a new pug that puts out an innocent face but is really very mischievous behind everyone’s backs? That’s material.
I know it was a terrifying experience for you when you had that nightmare, but I know of writers who have turned their bad moments into great stories! Granted some little ideas might not make a full story, but you could always incorporate them into something you’re working on. Or the idea might help you think of another idea that you would certainly love to write about.
Turn your ideas into experiences
Turning your ideas into experiences is just as great. What do I mean by this?
Let the ideas play out in your head, but more than that, let yourself assume that they’re real. This point is connected particularly to fiction. Do not think of your characters as just that – fictional characters. Imagine them to be real-life people whom you know about, and whose story you’re simply going over in your mind. Do this and watch them come alive before your eyes.
What I do is that I pick a long, lonely (obviously safe) street, preferably with tall trees lined up by the sides, and I walk slowly down it while going over my characters’ stories in my mind. What happened to Jane there? Why did she do that? It was so silly of her, wasn’t it; she should probably have done this instead. Somewhere along those lines there’s usually the odd laugh from me. What you’re doing at this point is you’re giving the characters a real-life edge. The story flows – good for you!
Be careful with this technique though, because oftentimes other people might find you talking to yourself, laughing and smiling alone. They’ll probably think you’re an ass.
You’re a writer. By nature, you are a creative person. I’m certain you could think of other ways to turn your ideas into experiences (you could even dramatize them!). Your reward will be waiting for you.
So, let’s say our goodbyes. Whenever you’re thinking of creating or expanding ideas for your new book, you could try out a lot of the great advice that really nice people have made out time to post on the internet. However, don’t forget to pay attention to yourself. It’s very important.