There’s nothing elusive or complex about coming up with ideas. You do not need to sacrifice your first born child or fur baby to step into an abundance of ideas. Within 20 minutes of the inspiration generating activities, you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with. The secret of idea success is to know that your ideas start with YOU. When you think about what you enjoy, about your past experiences and your knowledge, you’re guaranteed a regular fountain of ideas. Then what?
Let’s turn your inner fountain and get your creative juices flowing.
As you do the following exercises, work through them quickly. Resist the temptation of getting too much in your head and overthinking the process. Do them as quickly as you can, and then go and do something else for a few hours. (Yes, go watch a few seasons on Netflix or take a lap around the neighborhood.) This allows the ideas to marinate and take form in your subconscious mind.
When you return with a fresh mind, read through the ideas you generated, and jot down more thoughts as you read through your lists. Please don’t discard any ideas at this stage. The way to a brilliant, fantastic idea is by twisting an idea slightly, reversing it, or by combining several ideas into a new one.
Searching for gold nuggets within your idea list alerts your subconscious mind that what you create is very important to you. Over the next few days, you may get a nudge from a thought you had which says: “Write me down.” Do that right away, even if you’re in the middle of a conversation or you’re driving along the back country roads. (Safety alert: If you’re driving, pull over.) Write that idea down, because even if you’re one hundred per cent certain that you will remember that amazing idea you just had, believe me, you will forget it. Make it a habit from this day forward to write everything down that your mind generates.
When you stay alert to the idea hovering at the corners of your consciousness you will never be without a book in the works. This is how you turn your first book into a long series of books.
First thing in the morning is a great time to generate ideas. Set your alarm ten minutes early, then sit up in bed and write down 50 ideas. No matter how silly it may seem – write it down. After all, no one but you will see it.
Inspiration One: What you’re good at
Make a list of 20 things that you are good at. Refrain from thinking too much about this. Maybe you’re good at buying presents for people—you’ve got a knack for choosing just the right gift. Maybe you’re a good cook, or a great gardener, or a good parent (to humans and/or animals), or a good swimmer or a good networker. Or maybe you used to be good at one or more of these things.
For example: I grew up deaf in a hearing world. I tried to adjust to a world very different than mine. If I saw a gap in the market for a deaf woman living in Europe as a kiddo who managed to navigate the hearing world with great success, I’d feel comfortable writing more on that experience.
Inspiration Two: Your past experiences
Experiences sell. If you’ve been on vacation and were abducted by a group of drug dealers, it’s a book. (This actually happened to a client of mine.) If you’ve taught yourself how to speak eight languages fluently, it’s a book. People have written books about their illnesses and how they managed through it. They’ve written about their addictions, and their fur babies. Browse through the bestseller lists online or at the local bookstore to see what personal experiences people are writing about.
Now is a wonderful time to walk down memory lane. If you’re in your twenties, it’ll be a short stroll. If you’re in your forties or older, it will be a hike. Don’t make this harder than you need to. Jot down the first 20 experiences you’ve had that come to mind.
One of the easiest ways to come up with experiences is to work backwards through the stages of your life, or through decades. Again, don’t take a long time with this. Set yourself a time limit — ten minutes is enough.
Inspiration Three: Your knowledge
What do you know? Start by making a list of all the subjects you were good at in school. Then list all the jobs you’ve had – yes, part-time work counts.
- Your hobbies. Are you a doll collector? Do you draw with your feet? Generate a lot of cash with your hobby?
- Your current job. What are you learning in your job that other people would pay to learn? We all have information that no one else has and they need.
- The places you’ve lived. Your hometown may be boring to you, but guide books and “hidden histories” sell well.
- Your family tree. What special knowledge do your nearest and dearest have that you could write about?
Spend around ten minutes writing down as many subjects as you have knowledge about.
Inspiration Four: What brings you the most happiness
Travel author, Bill Bryson, enjoys travel and wants to share his experiences with others around the world. He also incorporates amazing aspects of science, which offers a fresh approach and his audience loves it. He regularly produces bestselling books. (His books are hilarious and well written). What do you love? People have written about garage sales, cosmetics, cars, vacations. If you love something, chances are that thousands, or maybe millions, of others will love it too.
Keep an eye on the newspapers, be aware of current trends and include an idea or two to your list. Better yet, listen to what your children are conversing about because they tend to up to date on what is happening.
Remember that it will take time for your book to reach the bookstores. Therefore, the current hot topics on the bestselling lists may be old news before your book is in the stores. This doesn’t mean that you can’t write on perennial favorites like money, sex and exercise. These topics never go out of popularity, and a new twist on one of these is always works well.
“The strength of writing about what you enjoy is that you will be bringing passion and enthusiasm to your topic.”
Inspiration Five: From challenge to opportunity
You face challenges every day. While most are minor, there are always some major challenges thrown in the mix. If you’ve ever faced a large challenge, or if you’re facing one right now, then consider the things you learn along the way that could help other people. Whatever your challenge is, whether it’s moving house or confronting a life-threatening illness, other people face the same challenges, and in those challenges possess the beginning of a book.
Make a list of 20 challenges you’ve faced in your life. Anything catastrophic qualifies: losing your job, facing bankruptcy, or the betrayal of a spouse. If you’ve had a quiet life, then make a list of challenges that the people you know have faced.
Additional challenges you can consider include any habit you’ve broken, from congenital lateness to overeating.
When you’ve finished brainstorming, you’ll have dozens of book ideas. Granted, you will not use all of those ideas you have generated, but you will have a list to draw from. Resist the urge to delete your ideas because you never know when you might refer back to them.
Love Melissa Annalise Halstead,