Of Writing Ideas and What Happens Next

As an author, the first question everyone wants to know, is where do I get my ideas?  Ideas can come from a line of dialogue over-heard at a school visit, in line at the movies, grocery store, or at the park.  My ideas stem from my loves:  chocolate, dogs, dreams, books, the beach, humor . . . Ideas are everywhere!

But then what?  If the idea hits you as unique, funny, interesting . . . then it’s a keeper.  Jot it down in a journal, your white board, notepad, IPAD, or whatever you use so you won’t forget it. 

Next comes the fun part.  Sleep on it!  Dream on it!  DAYDREAM.  Yes!  Permission to daydream! 

Teacher:  “What do you think you are doing?”

Student:  “Why Ms. Know-It-All, I’m doing my assignment.”

Teacher:  “Staring out the window is the assignment?”

Student:  “Yes!  It’s important to daydream for me to fully develop the characters and plot of my creative writing assignment.”

Your best ideas are in your subconscious, where daydreams and your sleep-dreams take place.  So pay attention when words, thoughts, and images strike you there.  Keep pen and paper next to your bed so you can write these down immediately as they happen or otherwise they will blip off into space very quickly. 

Next, brainstorm on paper.  One word leads to another word of thought.  Be as relaxed as you can be!  If you are tense this won’t work well.  Give yourself ten minutes.  Write down anything that comes to your mind.  What might happen next?  What problem could occur?  Keep your pen going!

Where do I begin?  Not necessarily at the beginning.  Just begin where your characters start talking to you.  Or if the beginning comes naturally to you, begin there.  Just start writing!

*Give your character an obsession.  What does she or he want?

*What stops her from getting it?

* How can she overcome this?

On your first draft, just write.  Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. 

1. Brainstorming is great for ANY TIME YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.  In a novel, short story, essay or poem. 

2.  Try a dream intention. Before sleep, write down the question you need answered.  “What should happen to my character next?”  Sometimes this question needs to be rewritten each night for three or four nights before your dream will happen.  Sometimes you’ll get it on the first night!  Write your dream immediately after waking. Remember we dream in symbols.  So take time to think about what your dream could really mean to you. 

3.  Relax.   Any time we worry, we block our process.  If we just sit down away from our computer and get back to the old-fashioned pen and paper in a comfortable chair, you may be surprised how easily your “what happens next” question will be answered.

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