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Writing comes naturally to some people. They are able to come up with a solid idea quite easily, and then put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start generating a fantastic story. But for a lot people, wanting to write can be halted by the mere fact that they don’t have anything to write about. Sometimes we may even have a story idea but can’t manage to start writing it down.
It doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction or non-fiction, even when we know what we want to write about we sometimes need help, or a little inspiration to get started. For example, you might want to record some of your grandfather’s amazing stories from when he was young. You know what you want to write about but are hitting a roadblock because you have no creative idea of how to start.
I have come up with 5 ways that you can use to generate ideas, or get yourself to start writing. The first four are everyday things you can do that you can turn into habits. By completing one of these tasks every day and turning it into a daily habit you will subconsciously exercise your writing muscle and words should just flow. The fifth suggestion is a writing challenge to get you started!
Free writing is basically writing for a set period of time about anything but the rule is is that you have to continuously write without stopping until time is up. You can write about anything you want, hence the term ‘free writing’. You can literally write ‘I don’t know what to write’, as long as you keep writing. Sentence structure, spelling, grammar etc. doesn’t matter either. What matters is that you write. If you start writing for 10 minutes everyday, you will start to naturally do it and the 10 minutes will be up before you know it. I’ll admit, when I first started free writing those 10 minutes seemed like a lifetime, but after a few days, it seemed to fly by (and I’ll admit I have many pages that have ‘I don’t know what to write’ written all over them).
There are 2 things that might happen when you free write that can generate an idea:
- You might actually spontaneously come up with an idea while you’re free writing!
- After a week or two of free writing go back and read what you’ve written. You may uncover an idea that you never thought of as an idea before before. Natalie Goldberg talks about this in her book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. She talks about digging up undiscovered ideas that you never thought about before because you either forgot about them, or never considered them. If you want to get real inspiration for writing, I highly suggest this book!
Journaling is very similar to free writing but with journaling you aren’t forced to write for a certain amount of time each day. You also aren’t required even write everyday. With journaling, you can write when you want, for however long you want, but with writing in a journal, you know exactly what you are going to say. In a personal journal you might write about your thoughts and feelings, or even the days events. In a travel journal you write about the places you’ve been and then things you’ve seen. In a fitness journal you write about your goals and how you are going to achieve them. Some people do decide to set aside a specific time every day or each week to write in their journal. Whenever you write, and whatever kind of journal you write in, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you are writing. And like free writing, you may spontaneously come up with an idea, or you may discover an idea while reading your past entries.
You can even take old journals from your younger years and read through them and rediscover a specific time in your life, event, or feeling that may inspire you to write.
Sometimes all you need to inspire you is a good old fashioned brainstorming session. Maybe you have a little idea of what you want to write about but don’t have a clue as to where to go from there. For example, maybe you have a specific topic or genre you’d like to write about. Brainstorming what you know or like about that topic or genre may unexpectedly bring you to an idea.
Use Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are ideas or topics that you can use to to start writing creatively. There are tons of resources out there where you can get lists upon lists of writing prompts. All you have to do is type ‘writing prompts’ into google and you’ll come up with tons of resources. There are also lots of great books that provide writing prompts. My personal favourite is 642 Things to Write About: A Journal. There were so many writing prompts in this book that helped me discover TONS of ideas.
Writing challenges are a really good way to practice idea generation. It is a mix of all of the tips above. It forces you to write everyday for a certain amount of time (free writing), it gives you an idea to start with (writing prompt), and it may also force you to revisit your past or past writings (journaling).
I’ve created a writing challenge to help you get started on your writing journey.
Please join my 7-Day Writing Challenge by clicking the button below!
This writing challenge is meant to inspire you to believe that you can write and that you are a writer!
So take the leap and join the challenge. I am confident that you can write something spectacular. At the end of the week you will have 7 pieces of writing that you can be proud of. And within those 7 pieces of writing, you might have a hidden gem that will spark the creative writing journey for you!