Writing: Where do you get your ideas?



I get asked this question a lot, so I am finally going to cover it, as well as a few other things.

When I sit down to write, nothing comes out. If I force myself to produce new material, I will not accomplish anything. Often, my writing ideas reach out to me. My brain is complicated. Poetry comes to me sometimes when I’m not expecting it, and other times I can sit down, a title of a poem will enter my mind, and I‘ll work off of that. I have a Word document filled with titles for poems and short stories just waiting to be written! Often I’ll listen to music and it’ll inspire me to write. There are times I go days, months without writing new work. Some call it writer’s block, but I loathe even thinking about it, fearing slightly that if it’s on my mind, I won’t produce new material. I can’t truly explain where my ideas come from. Some of them are terrible, and I look back and ask myself, “Did I really write that?” Don’t we all occasionally do that?

I, as well as many other writers out there, are improving our craft every day. Oftentimes we’ll look back and wonder why the fuck we wrote a certain piece, while feverishly consuming our third cup of coffee, working on something we feel is far better than that piece. I’ve always been a perfectionist. If I’m not comfortable with a piece of writing, photography, etc., I will not release it, and occasionally delete it.

My writing ideas creep up on me. A verse for a poem can hit me, I’ll say it aloud, then just keep adding on to it, and eventually I have a lovely piece I’m comfortable with. This is when I walk around the house and sing it (but not always). Yes, I often sing my work. Even though I’m a terrible singer, I enjoy doing this, because if I feel the piece could become a song, I’ll sing it as I would want it to be performed. By this time, the windows have shattered, and the neighbor called the police and reported a loud, horrifying disturbance. Okay, my singing is that bad (laughs).

Music is a huge part of my life. I’m currently listening to a song on repeat as I write this: Girls’ Generation’s Mr. Mr. Music is my biggest inspiration, and sometimes I’ll write a poem to the beat of a song, or a verse from the song will touch me, and I‘ll think of a lovely verse and write it down. Ideas come when you least expect them—well, for me. Yesterday I was working on a piece while listening to 2NE1’s live performance of “If I Were You.” I was creating a song out of what happened to me as a child. The vocals on “If I Were You” are incredible, and the music inspired me.

So, write every day. Write about anything. Write about what you had for breakfast. Write about the thunderstorm that woke you in the middle of the night. Write about pain. Write what you’re feeling. Write about everything and anything that‘s on your mind, but keep what you don‘t want anyone to see private, of course. This is your journal, so don’t hold back. Keeping a notebook and pen on your nightstand is great for writing down ideas that come in the night.

As for my writing ideas, they present themselves in pieces that I must put together. The puzzle isn’t always clear, but I manage to put the pieces where they belong. I write what I’m feeling—always write what’s on your mind.

Everything can inspire.

Ask yourself:

  • What inspires me?

Never force yourself to write, let it come to you. Forcing creates a doorway for writer’s block to creep in, and nobody wants that. Or maybe it’s just me. You won’t always encounter writer’s block from forcing yourself to write; do what works best for you.

(image is in the public domain: source)