Fishing for INSPIRATION?
Your imagination is a pond that you fish your ideas from. Like any fishing pond, what you catch depends on what you've stocked your pond with and how much you put in there. If you fish for only the occasional idea, your little ideas have time to breed creatively until they overflow the pond, leaping right out into your hand -- and onto your keyboard. If you fish a lot, you will have to restock -- Frequently.
A Dry Pond = Writer's Block
What's in YOUR Imagination?
What do you KNOW?
What do you love to Do, to Study, to Think About, to Talk About...? Make a list of all the things you know well and all the things you've done -- seriously! Mythology, history, any retail jobs you might have had -- anything you might have seen, done, or studied.
WHO do you KNOW?
Have you ever met...?
A real Criminal?
A real Hero?
A real Romantic?
A real Stalker?
A real Witch?
A real Cop?
A real Private Investigator?
A real Soldier?
A real Stripper?
A real political figure?
A real rebellious Teen?
A real ghost?
Someone truly in Love?
A real happily married couple? -- with children?
Someone who Defied the stereotypes seen on TV?
What have you DONE?
Have you ever Experienced...?
A real loving relationship?
An abusive relationship?
An obsessive infatuation?
Driving cross country?
Being a problem child?
A corporate job?
A fast food job?
A foreign country?
Using a sword?
What can you ADD to your Imagination?
The more you add to your pond the richer and more creative your stock. For the best and most creative results from your imagination, throw in everything that catches your attention, from Saturday morning cartoons to the latest romance, to newspaper articles.
Adding books and movies will generate fun and interesting situations.
Adding research will add ACCURACY.
Adding emotional experience will add DEPTH.
Adding physical experience will add REALISM.
Read everything you can get your hands on from non-fiction such as history and mythology to ghost stories, but most importantly, OBSERVE the world around you because THAT goes into your writing too. Do things! See things! Experience things! The wider the range of information and experiences you toss in your imagination, the wider the range of ideas you will come up with.
Give your self little Observation exercises to train yourself to write about them:
Describe exactly how it feels when your hand is sliding down a banister.
What does a wooden wall feel like as opposed to a stone wall?
Can you describe the carpet under your feet?
Can you describe the sound of your fingers on your keyboard?
What does water taste like?
Can you describe what eating a hamburger is like?
How is wearing a long skirt different from wearing pants?
Can you describe the clouds in the sky?
What does ice taste like?
Observe your friends:
Can you describe a smile?
How about a frown?
What does Worry look like on someone's face?
How is a Happy smile different from a Sarcastic smile?
Can you describe someone who is nervous?
How about angry?
Your Memory of all that you've experienced is the most important tool a writer has because ALL of it ends up in their stories. Keep your Memory sharp and well honed by using it as much as you possibly can. This will also keep you from making the fewest MISTAKES.
Think: HOW do you KNOW?
Do you actually Know -- or are you making it up as you go along? Where is your knowledge actually coming from?
Role Playing Games?
Knowledge is POWER and Experience is even more so! Someone who has never kissed isn't going to be able to write a kissing scene as well as someone who has. Worst of all, someone with experience will know IMMEDIATELY when the writer doesn't know what they're talking about. Once that happens, they're closing your story -- never to look at it again.
Hunting for the WHOPPER
Every good fisherman knows to throw back the ones that are too small, so they can grow up and be worth catching later. The same goes for Ideas - throw back the small ideas so they can grow up to become Big Ideas.
Never ever Rush an idea! If it's too small to use toss it back. If you try to make a meal (a project) out of a half-grown idea, you will only end up with a half-serving of what could have been something much bigger, juicier, and tastier.
The only way to catch Whoppers is to let your ideas swim around in your pond until they grow up to be Whoppers.
YOU CAN'T STEAL AN IDEA!
Stealing TEXT is plagiarism, but stealing Ideas is a physical impossibility. Seeing a cool idea and tossing it into your imagination is good for your imagination. New ideas add color, breadth, flavor, and texture to what's already there.
But! But! But! BULLSH!T!
Every writer is different, with different things swimming around in their imaginations. You can give five writers the exact same idea and even let them see each others ideas and they will still come up with something totally different.
Case in point, VAMPIRES: Brahm Stoker, Angela Knight, Christine Feehan, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephanie Meyers, and Jim Butcher. Need I say more?
Keep your Imagination stocked and you will always have ideas swimming around just waiting to be caught!