1. The Party List
Spend an hour making a list. Think of topics
for article queries, fun titles for short stories, recent events or situations
that can be turned into essays or how-tos (or how not-tos). What questions
have been on your mind lately that you might research an answer? What weird
dream could be turned into a story or humorous essay? List childhood
remembrances, fears, favorite pets, friendships lost and found, disastrous
dates, the strangest kid you remembered in school, your most poignant holiday
memory. The list goes on
2. Hide & Seek Some Magazines
Spend an hour looking over piles of magazines.
Slip into a quiet spot at the library and thumb through magazines: Childrens,
womens, general interest
whatever they have available. The more I absorb,
the more I have come up with offshoot ideas or see a phrase that leads my
thoughts to a story, article, or book title. You might find an article that
leaves a question unanswered. Find a way to answer it. Or a story that reminds
you of something that happened to you. Maybe a photograph has a story waiting
to be told. Or an article is so interesting you just have to learn more about
3. Field Tripping
Go on a field trip. It doesnt have to be far.
Spend time alone at an amusement park, a local tourist attraction, in the
midst of a big city or a quiet country getaway, a historical site or a popular
teen hangout. Watch and listen to other people and write down their
conversations, movements and reactions. Describe the settings you are seeing.
Study someone from a distance and make up a story about what they are doing or
are about to do.
4. Ring Around the Rewrite
Pull out your own published pieces. How many
ways can your resell or reslant your own work. Has it been awhile since some
of those pieces were sent out as reprints? Now that youve stepped back from
them, can you think of additional ideas that go in a new direction? Did your
personal experience that you wrote about right after it happened lead you to
other events youve not written about yet?
5. Pin the Tail on the Dictionary
This old idea standby is still a fun and
interesting way to create ideas. Close your ideas, open the dictionary and
plop your finger onto a word. Even better, pick 2 words and try to find a way
to put them together. A childrens story resulted from the words mirror and
blind. It won first prize in a contest and went on to be published in Marion
Zimmer Bradleys Fantasy magazine. The words ostrich and dragon
became an idea for a childrens novel.