Where do you get your ideas? by Syndi Powell

A lot of writers get asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Answers can vary, but it usually has something to do with a character or a situation that would not leave the writer’s mind alone whether awake or sleeping. The harder question to answer is “What if you don’t have any ideas?”
That’s where I’ve been struggling since the beginning of the year. It’s time to start writing new stories, but the ideas I’ve had were either rejected or lost steam after a few pages. While it’s true my health and personal life have moved to center stage in my mind, I find myself yearning for a good story in which to lose myself. One that I will be eager to sit in front of my computer and pour the words from my head on to the screen.
In the meantime, here are some things I’ve been doing to spark my imagination:
1.       Reading, reading, reading. I usually average reading two to three books a week, but lately it’s been in the four to six range because my appetite for story has been ravenous.

2.       Research. Some of the ideas I’ve had that haven’t worked out have needed some additional research. I’ve almost worn out my library card with the books I’ve been checking out in the hopes that the research will set one of my ideas on fire.

3.       Watching TV/listening to music. Sometimes my ideas come from a news story or a song lyric, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Elvis Presley and the Beatles lately.

4.       Daydreaming. It may look like I’m staring into space, but my mind is furiously imagining different scenarios.

5.       Eating healthy and exercising. With the occasional chocolate, of course.
The truth is, there is an idea in my head that won’t let go of my imagination. But it scares me to death to think of writing that story because the emotions are still raw. Then again, that’s what makes the idea so great.

What do you do when you don’t have any ideas?


  1. When I'm out of ideas, I do exactly what you indicated. Don't stress over it. There are characters out there waiting to grab your imagination so they can get their story told.

  2. I hope you get a story soon. I'm without one at the moment, too. I started one--which I like--but it doesn't seem to be time for it yet, so I'm on the hunt with you. So glad you're healthy!

  3. Syndi, Like Liz said, so glad to hear you're on the mend. Maybe your mind just needs to smooth out after the trauma of all you've been through. I'm betting a story idea will hit when you least expect it, after you stop trying to force ideas. You'll be walking along one day and zap, the idea will hit and you may not even recognize it for a few days. Give yourself space.

  4. Often, my story ideas come from a song lyric. Oh my, I'm jealous...reading four to six books a week!

  5. Hi, Syndi! You sound so good. I walk a lot on the hunt for a story idea - read all kinds of things - talk to my friends - and, more importantly - listen! You'll drive yourself crazy, then an idea will fall on you sans parachute and knock you over. That idea you're currently afraid of might be just what you need professionaly because it is raw and you won't have to dig too deeply for emotion, and it might be just the cathartic you need personally to get beyond it and move on. Just saying . . .

  6. I read nonfiction. I find real life events often surpass fiction in story telling.

  7. Syndi, sounds to me like you're doing all the right things! Just listen to your heart. Characters always come first for me. Unfortunately, plot ideas don't seem to follow until I start tapping away on my keyboard. Which means I do a lot of revising and deleting as I craft a story. Interesting, how different everyone's processes are.

  8. Syndi, tou have been through so much! I think you are doing everything you should. Reading and walking is the best medicine for body and soul. I like being in nature whatever you can grab. A lake, hug a tree or even watch a video. It all soothes the mind. I always ask my brain and a few Angels to give me ideas while I sleep. It may sound dumb, but it's worked for me for 35 years. All my best thought and prayers to you for continued healing.

  9. These are some great tips, Syndi! Praying for ongoing healing for you and for just the right story to fall into your lap. :)

  10. I always get ideas when I'm working on something else. :-) With my ADHD, I was bad to chase the idea for a while which made me lose my connection to the story I was working on. Now when I get an idea I jot it down on a note and stick it in my story idea file. Then when I need a story idea, I go to the file and look over all the ones that had seduced me when I couldn't
    write them.
    So glad you are doing better!

  11. You're such a great writer I know whatever story you wind up with will be a winner Syndi. So happy to hear you're doing well. ( :
    Of course I'm not a writer, but I am one at heart, and I think I'm most like Patricia Bradley when it comes to creating stories. I like her story idea file.


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