How to Get Ideas for Writing

Better late than never, right?

Actually, the reason this is late is kind of funny – I got an idea and ran with it (no, not literally – I actually sat with it and typed for a while). πŸ™‚ So…inspiration struck! That and life has been extraordinarily crazy lately.

But, enough with the excuses.

Here’s a question I receive a lot: “Where do you get your ideas from?”

I get a ton of ideas from other books. The plot from Miss Match is ripped right off the pages of Jane Austen’s classic Emma, except that I changed the ending (um. A lot!).

Movies are another great way to get ideas. I watch a ton of movies! If you want the perfect way to get in the mood to write, watch a movie in whatever genre you’re writing. BUT BUT BUT – do NOT just lounge around watching movies all day!! When you get inspired, write!

I’ve gotten ideas from newspapers, magazines, Starbucks employees and just random people I’ve met. I’ve gone shopping and said, “I wonder what it would be like to work in a second-hand clothing store?” Then I went home and started writing about a girl who worked at a second-hand clothing store. I’ve watched friends’ moms bug them about dating someone and then written a story about a girl who’s mom won’t stop setting her up.

But there is one place where I never fail to come away with unbelievable story ideas, and this will probably shock you but here it is: College Bible Study.

I know, sounds really weird, but every Wednesday night, one more thing happens where I just giggle to myself and then make sure I go write it down. So, aside from everyone thinking I’m some kind of a psychotic stalker (oh wow. I actually got called this one time), I’m never pressed for ideas. Any college/singles/young twenties Bible study probably has a unique makeup of characters, but I’m always amazed at how many just straight funny things happen there!

So, I guess that would be my plug to get more involved with your local church. πŸ™‚

Here’s a recent example of how ideas can come from anywhere: A couple of weeks ago, Jon was tired and not being his usual cheerful self, so I jokingly called him “Mr. Grumpus” (side note: he still denies all grumpiness). Later, we were in bed, the lights were out, Jon was pretty much asleep, but I couldn’t get that name out of my brain and the next thing I know, I have this whole children’s story running through my head about a man who frowns, and frowns, and frowns until he has SO many frown wrinkles, he can’t even see. So, I immediately jumped out of bed and ran for my computer in the living room. Jon came out all groggy a couple of minutes later and was like, “What are you doing?”

Ah, the joys of being married to a writer, right?

Okay, so let’s try this out. One of my all-time favorite newspaper articles was about when a school bus accidentally ran into the school building. It was summer, so no one was hurt, and the only person in the school who heard the crash was some random person who was there practicing his oboe.

You know, something like that could not just be made up.

Now we have our awesome article, but how do you pull the idea from there? Here’s a fun exercise to do until the ideas just come naturally:

~~~

Mystery: School bus “accidentally” crashes, killing 25. No driver is found, no evidence that there even was a driver. The only hope for an answer lies with a blind oboe player, and he’s not so willing to talk. How did this happen? Who is responsible for the deaths?

Chick-Lit: Girl just wanted a few minutes of peace and quiet to practice her oboe for tonight’s concert. Breaking into the school may not have been the smartest idea, but it’s cool and silent. But now her dumb dog has ran off and she can’t find him. Guy driving the bus swerves to avoid hitting dog and rams into the building. Sparks – and engine fluid – fly.

Shakespearean: “Oh why hast thou rammed into mine wall? Am I but a flower? Here for one moment and disappearest the next?” she cried. “I couldn’test avoid it,” he resolutely decreed.

~~~

See? Fun. πŸ™‚ At least for nerds like me. πŸ™‚

Here are the biggest things about getting ideas:

* Don’t be afraid to talk to people. If a job/person/location seems interesting, ask about it!

* Don’t hole up in a little writing cave. Books are meant to mirror life. If you don’t really live life, how do you expect to write about it?

* Keep working at your walk with God. I’ve noticed a big trend in my writer’s block occurring when I haven’t had a devotion in a long time. Don’t forget to be in contact with the One who is the Ultimate Creator.

* Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read….

* Watch movies, but with your eyes open for things like plot, character development, character quirks, etc.

* Most of all… Just relax. Sit down with a big cup of coffee and your computer and have a good long chat with God while you try to figure out what you’re going to write about. Our main purpose in this life is to glorify Him, so why not consult Him as you’re working out the details?

Coming next week: You’ve got the idea, now how do you sculpt a plot – especially if you’re not an outliner like me?

Have a fantastic week everyone!

Erynn πŸ™‚

P.S. Let’s not make these writing tips a one-sided discussion. I want to hear from you! How do you guys get ideas to write?

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17 Responses to “How to Get Ideas for Writing”

  1. tulipsandkisses Says:

    Thanks for this entry! I’m an aspiring writer (aspiring in the sense that I have about 14 different different plots in my head but none written down).

    I use real life for my inspirations. People-watching is my big thing. And watching movies and watching TV. Sometimes just a simple sentence someone says gets me to form an idea.

    I have so much work to do before I can even think about writing a story. Haha. I’m brand, spankin’ new but I just get these ideas that pop into my head at the strangest moments so I have the writers mindset, I guess. I just need to work on it! πŸ™‚

    Again, thanks so much for posting this! I look forward to your next post!

  2. Shannon of the South Says:

    I really appreciate this little article that you wrote. I am a teenage writer and hope to be an author someday, and this helped me. I have a few ideas for stories, but sometimes I get writer’s block and can’t figure out what is going to happen next in the story, so this helped me to try to figure out what to do.

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

    Can’t wait for the next entry.

  3. christa Says:

    Congrats. Lovely wedding pics.

    Thanks for sharing this. My problem is I can get an idea, but packing the meat on the skeleton—well, there’s the challenge.

  4. Olivia Says:

    thank u for the tips. are you going to write snother book. I really hope that you do

  5. Bethany Says:

    Awesome!! Thanks for writing that.. it encourages me a lot. I like to write, but I don’t very often, mosty because I don’t really know how to come up with something good and interesting.. but you make it sound so easy!!! πŸ˜€
    On another note, I’m going to the bookstore today to see if they have Match Point!! πŸ˜€ Can’t wait to read it.

  6. Christy Says:

    Great article! I’m always so interested to hear how and where other writers get their ideas. I, myself, am ADDICTED to writer’s prompts. I collect them like some people collect seashells. It sounds as if you’re one like me, who never runs out of ideas, but if you ever do, feel free to check out my blog: http://www.penciledwhimsies.blogspot.com where I TRY to post a Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt, plus writer’s tips, spark words, and short essays about writing whenever I feel like it.

    Can’t wait for the next installment!

  7. Jessica Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for the writing tips!!! The thing I LOVE to do is watch people while they’re in the car. πŸ™‚ You really get the creative jucies flowing there!

  8. Brittanie Says:

    I just finished reading Matchpoint. I loved it. I can’t wait to read more of your books. Your one liners had me laughing quite loudly. πŸ™‚

  9. WordVixen Says:

    I have to admit that I’ve been curious about the Bible verses you used in MissMatch and ReMatch (haven’t had the chance to get MatchPoint yet). I was wondering if the verses inspired the prose, or if you wrote first, then went back and searched out appropriate verses?

    Just a curiosity thing. πŸ™‚

  10. Margie Says:

    The Lauren Holbrook Series was absolutely amazing.
    I count it as my favorite series and favorite books! All three books were so refreshing and funny. It was great to read something that was appropriate, laugh out loud funny, and involved the most important person ever, GOD! As a fourteen year old, walking down an aisle at Borders (I really did find all three books at Borders! On June 2nd, after searching three bookstores, it was the only one to sell Match Point. Even though they didn’t have it out on shelves yet, they still went to the back and got it for me! I love them!) , it is one of the only series I have found that doesn’t mention something I really just don’t want to read about. So, I wanted to thank you so much for writing this series, I enjoyed it so much!

    Thanks Again!

    P.S. Are you going to write another series or book in the near future? Please let us know! =]

  11. lizzie Says:

    MatchPoint was beyond amazing. I finished it in one day flat. I was stoked when it came out and couldn’t wait! i hope you will be writing another series like the this one. It’s rare to find any good teen religious books and yet, I’ve found an author who I love and spreads God’s word. Thanks =]

  12. Betsy Says:

    this is aweosme,thank you!

  13. Betsy Says:

    *awesome.apparently I can’t spell.

    I also agree with Brittanie. I laugh so much when I read your books.=D

  14. Margie Says:

    The Lauren Holbrook Series was absolutely amazing.
    I count it as my favorite series and favorite books! All three books were so refreshing and funny. It was great to read something that was appropriate, laugh out loud funny, and involved the most important person ever, GOD! As a fourteen year old, walking down an aisle at Borders (I really did find all three books at Borders! On June 2nd, after searching three bookstores, it was the only one to sell Match Point. Even though they didn’t have it out on shelves yet, they still went to the back and got it for me! I love them!) , it is one of the only series I have found that doesn’t mention something I really just don’t want to read about. So, I wanted to thank you so much for writing this series, I enjoyed it so much!

    Thanks Again!

    P.S. Are you going to write another series or book in the near future? Please let us know! =]

  15. anonymous Says:

    That was gr8. thx. πŸ™‚

  16. Paris Says:

    How do I get ideas???

    IDK!

    They pop into my head and I’ll just start writing. I’ve got one now about 5 kids who land on a deserted island – or is it? Nobody steal that idea! JK, πŸ˜€

  17. GraggesFompare Says:

    Tahnks for posting

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