Friday, July 14, 2006

Ideas! Ideas! Ideas!

In the latest Words and Pictures magazine from SCBWI-BI there is an article on turning ideas into stories. I decided to use this as the theme to todays blog. Here is a list of suggestions of places you can find ideas:

  • At school
  • Conversations
  • Dictionaries
  • Dreams
  • Free writing
  • Keeping a notebook
  • Keeping a scrapbook of images
  • Newspapers
  • Other stories
  • Own children
  • Photographs

I have found one minute, it seems like there are millions of ideas waiting to be explored, and the next, it appears that every topic imaginable has been done already. But, maybe that has more to do with the mood I’m in rather than the actual flow of ideas.

From the day I decided I want to be a writer, I started to carry a notebook on me. I write down everything, as my memory for trivia is awful. Talking to children, and listening to children, also gives me loads of ideas. Although, I am no longer teaching I am lucky, as I have three children and their friends, who like to get into mischief and that triggers lots of ideas too. I also have a rather vivid imagination.

Sometimes, I really have to make myself notice what is going on around me, as when I am working on a project, I find I mull it over in my mind and walk through real life in a daydream. Not such a good idea when you’re driving or trying to explain why you’ve reversed into the tree at the edge of the driveway… again.

Writing Exercises generate ideas as well. Here are some websites that are full of writing exercises and ideas:

I tend to find I get my best ideas for things that I’m already working on when I’m reading something else. Surprisingly, it never has anything to do with what I’m actually reading. I think it might have something to do with cognitive processes. I did a degree in Behavioural Sciences you know, so I can say things like ‘cognitive processes’ and know what I’m talking about. Pity no one else does.

But what do you do with these ideas once you’ve got them? I write better if I have a writing schedule. I make a list everyday of the things I want to achieve. Also, being given a deadline helps to keep my focused.

Often an idea needs time to grow and sort itself out in my head. I tend to draft things on paper then re-write them on the computer and print them off. You can tell if something is really crap when you see it in print. I also pretend I am the character and act out little scenes in my head. Opps! There’s that tree again.


Atyllah said...

I find a prime source of ideas is the subconscious - so dreams and random thoughts. Also ideas come from things viewed with a "different hat on" - ie just by looking at ordinary things differently and saying "what if". Actually, "what if" is a really good way to prompt ideas. I also find ideas in works of non-fiction and in new places I visit.
I don't know about you, Anita, but if I give them a chance I have ideas chasing me down the street! :-)

Anita Marion Loughrey said...

I know what you mean Nicky. But, I tend to have to give them time to sort themselves out and get themselves in some form of logical order.

Wilf said...

Really interesting and helpful blogs, Anita. There are loads of ideas about but the ones I think will work sort of settle in and gather substance. I haven't tried many excercises-I should. I'll definitely look at your ideas as I have two SCBWI groups now and I think excercises would be v useful.

Anita Marion Loughrey said...

I always found they can stimualte me to write about new ideas. things I may not have even contimplated before. I am starting to write a story about a family who live on a canal boat and travel around with no fixed abode. This started from an exercise I was doing for fun.