Topics to write about, writing ideas, story ideas, writing

Getting inspired on ideas to write about may seem difficult and for good reasons, including the fact that there is a high probability that many of the topics that you intend to commit to paper may have already been written on.


But to the contrary, there are great ways to easily generate ideas to write about, all you need do is follow the advice of these experienced and professional writers.






1) David Leonhardt

There is nothing new under the sun. Coming up with a truly original writing idea is, therefore, not easy. But there are many, many ways to repackage old ideas so that they feel like new. It’s all about the angle you take when writing.

So pick a good topic that somebody else has written about. Ask yourself two questions: “What do I agree with?” and “What do I disagree with?” Make a list of the answers to both questions. That list is your outline. You can rearrange the points for a more logical flow; they don’t have to be grouped into “agree” and “disagree,” because you don’t need to refer back to the original article or book.

The more you can inject person anecdotes or stories about customers, suppliers or family, the more unique and original your writing will be.




2) Shelly Jean Beach

My name is Shelly Beach, and I’m the author of more than a dozen books and have contributed to, edited, or ghosted more than two dozen others on a variety of topics. I’ve also been awarded for both my fiction and nonfiction books.

My writing ideas most often come from my life experiences and personal growth. My first two fiction books were based on struggles I’d faced and I’d watch others close to me wrestle with. My plot lines and characters reflected variations on real people’s struggles with their personal demons and past and present trauma.

I also ask, What are the needs of my readers? Where do they need encouragement? Information and education? Inspiration? Guidance? I’ve written multiple books for caregivers, people who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic illness, and other issues. My books have included devotionals, how-to books, scholarly work, informational books that provide resources, as well as fiction.

I also draw ideas from
– the media
– conversations
– TedTalks
– reading blogs, books, news sources
– reading books
– observing people
– studying genealogy
– engaging in conversation with new people
– listening and observing wherever I may find myself–in stores, in airports, at sporting events, while     getting my hair cut or in line at the bank
– serving others, which introduces me to new people, viewpoints, and opportunities
– asking friends what they want to read next




3) Shauna Jain, MD, FRCP

I own a children’s writing program called Quills and Quotes. We must develop our own content to teach children writing skills. This content includes essays, stories, and poems. All our writing must be original, but more importantly, it must be engaging and creative to motivate our students to read and write.

In reference to the topic of practical methods for developing creative writing ideas, I have a method that works for me.

I find I get my best writing ideas from other people. Every conversation is a brainstorming session. If you consider people as a web of ideas, every time we interact, we see a little bit of another’s web. Jump on opportunities to talk about things that interest others, like current hobbies, trips, readings, and work. Try opening the conversation to include crazy stories, unusual interactions or things happening in the news.


How do you get people to start talking? Well, you start by talking about yourself. Feel like “you” as a topic is limited or boring? Then you haven’t looked deep enough. Things happen every day that are hilarious, horrible, and conversation-worthy.


When you hit upon an interesting story, write it down, immediately. Ideas come freely but leave quickly. Always keep a notebook or phone handy. If you are truly inspired, excuse yourself and start writing. Never edit an idea. Then, when you have time, without distractions or interruptions, review your ideas and find the one you connect with passionately. Passion is the key to good writing.




4) Phyllis Zimbler Miller

To answer the question on how to generate a topic to write about, David Baldacci, a bestselling author, said in a segment of his Master Class that writers see things around them differently than others. A writer can develop story ideas by walking down the street, where s/he can see different elements and contemplate how to put them together into developing a story.

In addition to the above, one of my personal favorite method for developing story ideas is eavesdropping. I learn uniquely interesting things by listening to strangers, for example, at restaurants, and then using the overheard conversation snippets for my story ideas. Of course, actual events are great for stories, especially for science fiction.

Reading daily, for example, The Wall Street Journal is another one of my favorite sources for story ideas.




5) Maryann Karinch

These are some of the methods that I use to inspire my writing ideas:

A) Browse Netflix selections. Place no restrictions on looking at a title after title, description after description. When something catches your attention, you’ve provoked your curiosity-a good start.

B) Make a list of the weirdest things you’ve ever done. Things you would not tell your mother. Explore your feelings, main players, how you got in that situation, what it did to you.

C) Look outside your window. Why is anything out there interesting? What could happen to make it interesting?




6) Stacy Caprio

A practical method I use to develop writing ideas is to log into the Google Keyword Planner tool and type in a few keywords related to my general writing topic into the keyword idea section. The tool will spit back a list of related words along with their search volume. And I’ve found reading the list helps me brainstorm in ways my brain wouldn’t have naturally gone without using the tool to help generate a few new ideas.








7) Alina Adams

I am an author of 13 books, fiction, and non-fiction, from publishers like Avon, Dell, Pocket, Simon & Schuster and the upcoming The Nesting Dolls from HarperCollins. 

The best creative writing ideas come from something that makes you angry, something you think is unfair, either to yourself or others. If it makes you want to rant and rave, then channel that into writing. In today’s world, there is something anger-triggering for everyone!





8) Ken Johnson

Part and parcel to writing timeless, relatable pieces is understanding the psychology of character archetypes and the allegory they are intended to represent. As I contend in my book, *A Quick Guide to Archetypes & Allegory*, this psychological concept originated from the works of Jung.

Jung suggested all people, regardless of their background or heritage, will inherently understand certain primordial icons and their hidden meanings. For example, dragons exist in cultures across the globe despite no other unifying elements being evidenced.

One way to do this is by filtering the world through the eyes of a given archetypal character. Here, the idea of an innocent, or sinless, iconic character can drastically change perceptions. As I wrote in my book, this interplay is exemplified in William Mark’s *From Behind the Blue Line *where a police officer’s son is abducted and made into a sex slave for various pedophiles. The officer risks his career, his marriage, etc. to bring his son home.


A far different example can be seen in *To Kill a Mockingbird* by Harper Lee. Here, the innocent person is a wrongly accused Black man. The only way the audience can see his innocence is by having a young, female, White child try to process the situation in her mind. Through her perceived innocence, the audience can see past any of their prejudices to discern the sinlessness of the man on trial. (p. 44)


After Jung proposed his theory of archetypal characters, psychologists contended the allegories of archetypal characters not only can be subject to cultural interpretation but the writer can deliberately change the meaning.


I specifically address this notion in my book using the werekin character as a prime example to draw from, to wit, regional variations of archetypal characters can be especially tricky. For instance, a rougarou is defined as a lycanthrope (a.k.a. werewolf or werekin) cryptid specific to many Louisiana communities.


Before the French took control of what we know today as Louisiana, the early Isleño culture of the Spanish-speaking Canary Islands pioneer immigrants told tales of a cryptid, which was far different than the Cajun beast.


From a cultural perspective, Isleño swamp creature was more akin to the contemporary chupacabra than any oyster-shucking werewolf, or Sasquatch, now portrayed as the rougarou. Before the Isleños, various indigenous tribes had their own swamp monster archetypes, which bore little resemblance to either the Spanish or the French versions. This serves as a testament to how culture colors character portrayals and perceptions. (p. 6)


I also noted, In Stephanie Osborn’s book, *El Vengador*, she masterfully wrote a werekin piece, which didn’t use historical allegory tied to the specific archetype employed. Typically, werewolf stories involve allusions to puberty, savage sexuality, physicality, etc. Werekin tales dealing with sasquatches, and others of similar ilk, generally have the same allegory tied to them, but with a less aggressive, almost environmentalist, and a somewhat humanitarian type of slant. In Osborn’s work, the creature alludes to cultural changes and long-held racial tensions/prejudices. She, therefore, creates a paradigm shift in a little changed historical archetype’s symbolic representation. (p. 4)


When mentoring new writers, I suggest learning the basics. Know the difference between the allegories of a non-humanoid and a humanoid. Learn from the masters. And, never be afraid to change up the allegory of an iconic character archetype.

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