Writing Ideas Are Everywhere
They don’t have ideas for a book or blog post to start, and if they come up with one, they don’t have enough supporting ideas to flesh it out.
Yet, great writing ideas are everywhere if you know how to receive them. First, I’ll reveal why we don’t receive them, and then offer four ways to grab the ideas already around you.
That’s coming up right now!
Make Sure Your Reception Equipment is Working
There’s that great scene in the 1995 movie Heat. Robert De Niro plays a sophisticated bank robber looking for the big score.
There’s a communications genius who has learned that a particular bank will have $12.2 million in cash on a particular day. The scene plays out like this:
That’s the teaching moment for us all. That is precisely the case with ideas for your next book or blog post. Information is all around us. Our goal as writers is to grab it!
Since this is the case, who do so many writers waste an endless amount of time trying to get ideas? Science says that many people are living in an altered state of consciousness. It’s called “Obtundation.”
This term is usually reserved for people who have a medical condition or have suffered trauma. But “obtund” means “dulled or less sharp” and that describes a broad spectrum of the population today.
Minds are in a rut, overwhelmed with addictions to their phones, politically-motivated news channels, a flood of TV shows they binge-watch, and sites like Facebook that are programmed to suppress independent thinking.
Writers cannot afford to live in a semi-catatonic state like this. We must break free. We have an array to receive data, but the power switch is off.
How to Expand Your Consciousness
How do you expand your consciousness? Certainly not through drugs or alcohol. That has damaged far more writers than they have helped.
I think psychotherapist Carl Jung had the answer. He said humans were composed of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. He said we should all be looking for the center, the inner balance between these aspects.
When we center ourselves, we become alive in a new way. We become more aware of our own being, and of the people and situations around us. The dullness goes away.
Flip Your Own Switch
It’s like we flip that switch and suddenly we receive a flood of data through our senses, just as if those data arrays were turned on.
If you want to learn more about how to escape your dulled sense of consciousness, then study the topic of “Mindfulness.” That’s your escape pod from the hypnotic state imposed by society.
Mindfulness is too large of a topic for me to address here, but as you look into it be aware that there are two different teachings about mindfulness. One is rooted in science, and the other is rooted in metaphysics. Discover the path that meets your needs.
Turn ON your data reception system. Turn OFF all distractions and suppress your negative self-talk. Then, simply use your eye and ear gates to receive the huge number of ideas that already surround you.
Four Idea Gathering Techniques
None of the other ideas I offer here will work for you unless you turn on your data reception array. Here’s how to do that.
Get Ideas from People Close to You
Many writers think they need to go to exotic places and have bizarre experiences before they can gather the ideas they crave.
Not so. When you are centered and mindful, you’ll find a lifetime of ideas in your own home or neighborhood.
When you are fully awake, you’ll see there are plenty of ideas in your own network of friends, family, and colleagues.
My advice is that you make a plan to become centered and mindful, and see what you pick up as you develop your mindfulness skills. Your new ability to listen to others in an undistracted way can change your writing in revolutionary ways.
Get Ideas from Other Writers
Yes, you can get ideas from educational experiences and travel, but writers compress experiences inside the covers of a book. Reading is your tuition or ticket to ride.
Black author Eudora Wel-ty reminds us, “Learning to write may be part of learning to read. Writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
She was right on target. The secret ingredient of all good writing is a devotion to reading.
William Faulkner said, “Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad.”
You’ll get a flood of ideas when you read. They may be about how to turn a phrase or something specific about a particular topic.
Sometimes you get a chain reaction of ideas from reading. You may be reading on an unrelated topic, but your brain makes a connection to your topic for you. I love when that happens.
As Faulkner suggested, you don’t need to read the world’s great writers to get ideas. Sometimes dumpster diving is good enough.
For example, sometimes I go to Amazon and find a book on the topic I’m writing about. No, I don’t buy the book, I just scroll down and start reading the reviews.
Books with three or fewer stars usually have lots of complaints about what the author did poorly. I convert those negatives into positives for a chapter in my own book or a blog post on the same or related topic. There’s nothing like three-star reviews to trigger ideas.
Get Ideas from Visual Images
Getting ideas from images is vastly underrated. I learned the value when I was in fifth grade.
I’ve told this story before. When I was in elementary school, teachers took the language arts seriously. We wrote every day. One day in fifth grade, our teacher distributed large, colorful illustrations he clipped from magazines.
The page I received was of a distressed-looking lamb caught in a snowstorm. From the image I wrote an elaborate back story about how the lamb got in that predicament, and how he was rescued by a young Navajo boy.
My story was acclaimed by the teacher as the best in the class, and that approval was one of many building blocks that shaped my writing career.
The point is, visual images have the power to trigger ideas. You have to be centered and fully conscious to let visual images speak to you.
Use paintings, illustrations, photographs, TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, or Ted Talks. If you are centered and mindful, both static and moving images will speak to you and trigger ideas for your writing project.
Get Ideas by Listening
One of the most underrated ways to get ideas is to listen. That’s right, stop talking and eliminate distractions like checking phone messages. Quiet yourself and simply listen to what’s going on around you.
I once got a great idea for a scene in one of my books from a couple arguing while I was awaiting my turn at the Department of Motor Vehicles. They say, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” and that’s true. I took the truth I overheard and used it as the basis for a conversation between my fictional characters.
You have to be silent and listen. If you are silent inside and out, you’ll pick up ideas, snatches of dialogue, and plot points at Starbucks, the grocery store, in restaurants, the hardware store, or any place.
There is one more way that opening your ears becomes a fantastic way to harvest ideas. That’s Podcasts.
In 2020 there were 1.5 million podcasts on every topic imaginable, and the number grows each year. I listen to two types. One is purely for entertainment and the other is to learn about new trends and techniques in the writing world.
I get great writing ideas from both types.
Start listening in a centered and mindful way to the best podcasts on the topic of your book or blog, and you will get an avalanche of ideas.
Be a Human Data Reception Antenna | Ideas are all around you. You have an eye gate and ear gate, and a brain to process the data.
The trick is to make sure you are aware of what is happening around you to grab the data. You must escape the trance you are in and become centered and mindful.