I sat down and though, “Hmmm, I should write a blog post. But about what? Oh, I know! About picking topics to write about! Gosh I’m clever.”
I think that what I’m going to talk about will apply to all writing, whether it be your novel, poem, essay, or blog post. Writing is just tapping into your creativity and using words to express what you mean to say. Writers who have a firm grasp on the mechanics of writing might find this easier than others, but in the end anyone can write as long as they have creativity (they might need a really good editor, though).
What I feel helps me think of a topic is just blocking out everything else and letting something come to mind. For example, I was wondering what I’ll do when I’m done writing the Fairy Curse novels. That will be years from now, but I was still a little concerned. I tried to think of how I could stay in the same genre so that my readers would like the new content without having to repeat what I already had done. I thought, “Okay, what would exist in the context of magic, medieval world, and romance. Well… witches, of course!” Then you need to expand on that. “Well, what makes my witch special? Well, how about how she uses her magic. She likes using potions to help cure the villagers around her! And she’s very choosy about her friends, her only companion is a transsexual vampire who hates people.”
It can work for essays the same way. I have to do a research project later in the semester so I was brainstorming on what I want to do. I was thinking that I should have it connect to both my majors, psychology and criminal justice, and that it should be something I can potentially connect to my senior project. I want to possibly work with juveniles, so I was working within that context. Juveniles, criminal justice, psychology…. How do people perceive juvenile offenders verses adult offenders in minor crimes? As in, who deserves to be punished more for shoplifting, a 14-year-old or a 46-year-old?
Finding a topic is just about narrowing down your choices. Say you have to write a novel about something. Anything. You don’t have any ideas, but you need to write it (we’ll assume it’s getting close to November). Alright, you can do this. I believe in you. What genre do you want to write in? Romance? Fantasy? Both? Science Fiction? Historical Fiction? If you can’t decide, just pick the genre you like reading in most. From there, ask yourself a few more questions. Do you want the main character to be male or female? Why? Will their gender be an important part of the story (females being paid less, a man being forced to join the army)? What is this person going to do? Solve a mystery? Go on an adventure? Fall in love? Navigate intergalactic high school? Outrun death? Where does the story start in their life, and where does it end? What do you want to change by the end of the story?
It’s too overwhelming if you just ask, “What should I write?” The importance is in narrowing down the questions.
As you ask more questions, you’ll get more details. It doesn’t matter if they’re good ideas or not, write them down until you have something better. At some point you’ll say, “No, it’s stupid if my character goes to intergalactic high school and is still dating a human. She’s not going to date an alien, so I guess it’s just going to be a normal high school” until all the details are how you want them (though these changes might continue well into the final drafts of your novel).
If none of that works for you, just use a plot generator. You can write about the gnome who fell in love with the ballerina dancer on Mars. Best of luck to you.
Does anyone else have any specific techniques they use to find inspiration?