Reving Your Writing Engine: Ideas

There are so many sources for ideas.  Instead of sitting in front of your blank screen staring at your keyboard do some of the following activities:

1.  Go through your card file where you recorded your notes about people you observed, places you described, stories you overheard, conversations, etc.

2. Read the newspaper, especially the personal ads.  They are full of mysterious tidbits.  Even the articles can give you ideas.   Social notices such as weddings, parties and obituaries are full of material.

3.  Photos of your family, especially old photos of grandparents are fabulous resources.  Magazines also are full of interesting faces and situations in photos.

4.  Current events in your community such as local politics and neighbourhood dramas can prove to be great starting points for short stories or novels ( changing the people sufficiently so that they are not recognizable.

5.  Historical happenings are gold mines for interesting ideas.  Visit the library and check out the local history books.  Monuments and tombstones are also fascinating.

6.  Mine your own life for memories of school days, family stories and interesting characters.

7.  Strange fashions, traditions and new trends can also spark an idea, especially for interesting articles.

8.  Take a walk around your neighbourhood and observe what is happening.  Is someone moving out or moving in?  Who is the reclusive neighbour no one ever sees?  What things do the teens do for amusement?  etc.

9.  Look through an art gallery or a book on art in the library.  What stories are behind the drawings and paintings?  Check out statues and sculptures.  What do you imagine when you look at them?

10.  Bible stories, myths, legends, fairy tales and even Mother Goose rhymes can suggest stories.  Set a myth in a modern setting.  Write a legend about a local landmark.

11.  Music can suggest amazing ideas.  Play a classical piece or your favourite jazz and write while you listen.  Take a song title and use it as the title of your story.  Read a poem and write the prose account that it suggests to you.

12.  Look through an atlas and choose a strange place name to set a story in.   Travel magazines and National Geographic magazines are full of wonderful pictures of far away places that would make great settings for a story.

13.  HIstoric journals, your own diaries and the diaries of famous people can prompt interesting ideas. Even the phone book can lead to imaginative plots and interesting names for characters.

14.  Old postcards can inspire in two ways.  The pictures on the front depict vacation destinations from the past and the hand written notes on the back can be a fun start to a story.  Period ads and old catalogue pictures can suggest historical articles or stories.

15.  Colours can suggest moods and emotions, even events.  Patterns and textures can stir memories.

16.  Unusual objects, especially antiques, can suggest situations and characters.  Old jewelry and souvenirs can prompt an idea.  Empty your pocket or purse and see what the contents suggest to you.

17.  Television ads, movie clips and titles can be the beginning of a plot.

18.  Even the weather report can start your imagination humming.

These are just a few activities or objects that you can use when you sit down to write.  There are a lot of good writing sites on the internet that offer daily or weekly prompts.  So don’t just sit there and stew.  Explore!

Categorized as Pen

By mpmckibbon

I am a pastor/writer/illustrator and I am a happily married grandmother. My passions are drawing, painting, writing and making crafts. I write, edit and publish a magazine for hospice patients, and residents of retirement homes and nursing homes.


  1. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

    Many thanks

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