Where do you get your ideas?


imaginePeople always ask, “Where do you get your ideas when you write? Do you ever get stuck?

And the simple answer to that is… Well, there isn’t a simple answer, actually.

But I do know three ways to help my ideas flow more freely:

  1. Look up
  2. Read around
  3. Write stuff down.

For 1 it’s a case of noticing and discovering things, of putting your phone away and looking up. What’s happening? Why is that happening? What are people doing? Why are they doing that?

Try to notice things.

This is the inside of my head, where I’m a sort of incompetent scientist: always interested in what’s happening and why, but without the maths or patience to figure these things out for myself, which leads to 2, Read around.

If you’re not a reader it’s impossible to become a writer, but mainly reading helps because ideas feed on other ideas, and reading is the most direct route we have into other people’s heads, which is where they think up their ideas.

So, to understand the world read as widely as you can; read about things you don’t know written about by people you don’t know for reasons you don’t (yet) know. Be like a child and ask “Why?” about everything: Why is the sky blue? Why is grass green? Why is there no air in space? Why is Donald Trump president??

This won’t give you instant ideas, but instead provides creative fuel to tackle a blank page sat stubbornly in front of you.

And finally there’s 3: Write stuff down. Write something! About anything! Put some words on that blank page: ask yourself a question; remember what you did or saw or read or thought recently. What made you laugh? What made you cry?

It may be nonsense, it may be rubbish, but you can fix that. Keep going, keep fixing it and write something else.

And in fixing it you’ll find something to say.

I promise.

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