Inspiration, Writing

Lost for Words: Five ways to Generate Story Ideas

I was recently asked how I come up with new ideas to write about so regularly. I liken it to an athlete doing conditioning. To condition you practice, you stretch, and you eat right. Writing is no different.

You practice your writing each day or at least as often as you possibly can.

You stretch by doing lots of exercises, new techniques, and different points of view in your writing.

You eat healthy by looking at the world, being curious about what is around you, and using your resources.

 Never lose your sense of wonder and always have a notepad handy.

Here are some resources I use to generate ideas for my stories:

Wikipedia: It’s not so much the data I utilize but the way each post links to other posts. This can make a literal ‘train of thought’ on your computer screen linking things in new and creative ways.

The News: It seems like everyday someone is doing something crazy, weird, or cool. Take those things and change the context, mix them together like a potions master, and you will have a new story just like that.

Think Like… This is one of my favorites. I watch people, animals, anything really and wonder ‘What are they thinking or saying?’ Not only can it be so funny but it also has generated lots of ideas. Example, think like a nut avoiding the local squirrels.

Take Things Seriously: People say things in the extreme but if you think of them as not exaggerating you can come up with good ideas. An example being a short story I wrote about a giant who joined the San Francisco Giants Baseball Team.

Visual Aid: Sometimes browsing pictures online is enough to get my creative juices flowing. Use a photo to inspire your story and let is spill beyond just the frame.

In other terms, begin to think about your everyday life and just like a photo edit put a filter on your life. An idea filter like a fine sieve can drag ideas out of the oddest and most normal places in life. These normal things are the most potent. The things every person can relate to on some level. Take those idea fragments and add your unique voice, throw in your experiences and tada. You have a tiramisu of ideas to go off of.

What are some of the places you have gleaned ideas from?

2 thoughts on “Lost for Words: Five ways to Generate Story Ideas”

  1. Love this! A lot of this applies to the visual arts as well! I know for me, if I just sit and try to think of what to draw I can never think of anything, but as soon as I start to do little thumbnail sketches, ideas tend to come much easier. I’m sure that could apply to writing too- like jotting down little two sentence ideas as fast as you can, and not stopping til you get 30.


    1. The sentence exersize is a great idea! I will give it a shot 🙂

      I agree. Creativity spans many aspects and processes are transferable.I’m glad you found this helpful for your visual art as well!


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