- Sheen Johns
How writers can find new story ideas.
As creatives, we often find ourselves stuck without that creative muse to help us, that is essential for a creation. There are times when we run out of the creative juice and have no idea about what to do next. It might happen in between a 'work in progress' or you might be struggling to find the inspiration for your next bestseller.
There are many reasons why one experiences such a moment of stagnation. In my experience, it might either be that your environment is no longer intriguing your creative cells or it might be that you have worked so hard that you have dried out of your creative juice and need a refill. Whatever may be the case, the following steps are sure to help you get back on track. So, let us see how we can make those fingers wiggle with excitement for new stories to put on paper.
Observe and listen
If you want to tell a tale, speak about people and describe the environment they live in, you have to be a keen observer of your own surroundings. Observe people often. The way they dress, talk, move. How they express their emotions. How their eyes respond when they are surprised, how their eyes move when they are complimented. Look at people, but please don't be creepy about it. You can do it from a distance and not be an inconvenience to them.
Look at your surroundings, how the trees change colour as the seasons change, how beautiful is the sunset or small tiny shops among the towering buildings that grab your attention. Observe what makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd. You might find a story in them.
Another thing is to listen. Listening is as important as observing. We all know that eavesdropping is not a good thing, but if you are a writer I will encourage you to eavesdrop. Because you can call it as 'research'. Listen to that aunty sitting next to you rambling about her new daughter-in-law on the phone loud enough for the entire bus to hear. Listen to her words, observe her and make mental notes. She might be a part of a character in your upcoming novel. Listen to the chattering children in the park, or how that old lady at the park speaks to her puppy. Listen to the ones who come to speak to you.
Listen to your environment too. Listen to the flow of the water, the wind that rustles the tree leaves, the screeching noise the vehicles' wheels make on a slippery road. Listen to the people as well as the surroundings.
Every person you see, every person you meet and every place you visit is a study material for you. You might find your next story from just a look in their eyes, or from a word from their lips or a sight of a balloon rising up in the sky.
Feel and absorb
When you observe and listen, try to feel their emotions and absorb them into your skin. If you come to see an old lady crying all alone in front of a war memorial, you can imagine what she went through and how she is feeling. Try to absorb the scene into your mind and feel her pain. If you want to be a writer, you need to be an empath first. You need to know the emotions people go through and try to imagine what path they may choose next. Try to feel the wind that chills your skin, the happiness of a child who just got an ice-cream, the pain of a dog wandering the streets probably looking for it's owner. When you see them, try to feel them and absorb them to your core.
Isolate and brainstorm
Now that you have done the research part of finding new ideas, you need to isolate yourself from all this noise and find a quite spot to think. If you skip this part, you will be flooded with too many things and nothing will give you a solid new story idea. So, find a comfortable place, like your writing nook, where no one will disturb you and take a pen and a paper (or your idea notebook) and write down about whatever you saw today. Just like journaling. When you do this, you will observe that something you saw or someone you met takes up your interest more than the rest. Isolate it and write it down on a different page.
Now, take this new train of thought, like for example, something peculiar you noticed about a man on the train and start brainstorming about the various possibilities that his life might be like. Believe me now that you have a subject of interest, words will flow.
If it keeps you interested you can build an entire novel around this. If it does not, take up the next thing that caught your eye and lay down the possibilities around it. Soon you will have a new story idea to work with for your next bestseller.
It is no new knowledge that a good writer is a voracious reader. Every writer started off as a reader. It is the love for those stories that lit the fire of the passion for writing them in us. So, if you wish to better your craft and find new story ideas you have to read more, read regularly. Read other writer's works, learn from their writing styles. Diversify the genre you read and maybe you might stumble upon some inspiration for your own writing. You have to read to write. Read, read, read as much as you can.
Even if you follow everything I have mentioned above but not write regularly, there is little hope for new ideas to show up for you. You have to be a consistent writer. You have to write daily.
Now, when I say that you have to write daily, I do not mean that you have to write for your current work-in-progress daily. We all are humans and that may not be possible always. We will have days when we can build on our stories and others when we cannot. What I mean by 'writing daily' is that you have to write something every single day. It need not be, a story or a poem or a plot line. It can be just something you saw today on your morning walk or a thought that you had. Whatever goes on in your mind, just write it down. The best way to do this is through daily journaling. Keep a journal and write your thoughts in it daily. As you write, physically put down the words on paper, the creative side of your brain will will be triggered and chances are you will be able to work on your story later.
Daily journaling is a very effective way to find new story ideas. Ideas seek you out when your brain is already in the creative process of outputting the images in your brain.
I hope you find this helpful if you are struggling with writing and finding ideas for the same. Try this and let me know if this worked for you.