Usually, gathering book ideas is not a problem for me. I get them all the time … while in the shower, as I’m running, in the Jeep. It’s the whole remembering to write them down part I have a problem with! So this year, I’ve challenged myself to come up with a book idea a day. Some days have been easy. Some days have been really, really hard … so hard that I’m behind a month. (Okay, two.)
Now I’m on a quest to catch up and as a way to help, I’ve come up with 50 Ways to Gather Book Ideas for anyone else in need of help. Enjoy!
50 Ways to Gather Book Ideas!
1. Eavesdrop! Without being creepy or rude, of course, because that’s, like, not cool.
3. Brainstorm a list of amazing, dynamic, eye-popping first lines. Don’t worry about where the rest of the story will go for now. Just be crazy with this one!
4. Read some headlines. Cliché idea, but it works.
5. Think about your own childhood. What was your absolute best day? Or your worst day?
6. Your best holiday memory … or your worst holiday memory.
7. Think about your most embarrassing moment. (I have lots to choose from.)
8. What was the most amazing vacation you’ve ever had? Worst vacation?
9. Have tea and a chat with an elderly person and ask them what their best day, worst day, best holiday, worst holiday, most embarrassing moment, best vacation, or worst vacation as a kid was.
10. Dig out your old school yearbooks and go down memory lane.
11. Think about the ways your parents embarrassed you. Or your grandparents. Or siblings. Siblings can be great for that.
12. What’s your passion, cooking? Dancing? Fishing? Running? (That’d be me.) Bird Watching? Bee Keeping? Think of something funny, ironic, dangerous, or weird about your passion and see which direction it takes you.
13. Think about the best teacher you’ve ever had. Or the worst. Or meanest. Scariest. No, no, wait, I got it … the worst, meanest, SCARIEST teacher that your PARENTS thought was the best, there you go, now THAT’S topic!
14. Take a trip to a book store or library and wander in the picture book section. Grab ones that catch you eye and write down the reasons why. (For me, it would include anything pink, sparkly, with lots of tiaras and tutus.)
15. Spend some time watching book trailers on YouTube … not to steal ideas, but for inspiration!
16. Surf photo websites like Shutterstock or iStockphoto and see what jumps out at you. Or try entering random words in the search box like carnivals, playgrounds, beaches, pickles, daisies, aprons, hop scotch, monkeys, or what have you.
17. Remember your best friend in elementary school. And the kid who everyone picked on. And the popular kid. The mean kid. The scared kid. The mean, popular kid who picked on your best friend but who is actually scared.
19. Think of your favorite book as a child. Why was it your favorite? What elements did it have that made you read it again and again and again?
20. Go to a park with a notepad. Or a mall. Town festival. Bowling alley. Fabric store. Inspiration is everywhere!
21. Think of your favorite recipe. Or something your grandmother used to bake. Or the first dessert your mother let you make all by yourself. I don’t really know why I’m listing this one. Maybe because I’m hungry and I’d like a piece of cake.
22. Meditate. Breathe deep, empty your mind, and see what sparks. Or hey, want to get deep? Okay, then try lying on the floor while blasting your favorite moody, deeply emotional song. (True story: my mom and I used to do this while listening Simon & Garfunkel’s I Am A Rock. Now that’s deep, y’all.)
23. Think of your favorite minor character, one who hasn’t gotten the spotlight he/she deserves. Give them that spotlight and let them shine!
24. Take a fairy tale and twist it until it’s taffy. With whipped cream. And chocolate sprinkles. What, taffy doesn’t have whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles? Well, yeah, duh, that’s because it’s twisted!
25. Write down a list of the corniest, hokiest clichés you can think of. Add to that a touch of twisted fairy tale. Or a monster. Or an animal with an identity crisis. Those are always fun.
26. Buy the most ridiculous, truth-stretching gossip magazine you can find. (We call they trashies.) Grab a cup of coffee and give that trashy a good read, seeing if anything sparks.
28. Dig out your old notepads or folders that hold all the book ideas that you’ve scribbled down over the years. I know you have one. Every writer has one. Who knows what it holds?
29. Go for a walk. Or a hike. Better yet, go for a walk or hike WITHOUT a notepad, because we all know that’s when you get your best ideas! (But secretly hide pen and paper in your back pocket to write it down on.)
30. Head somewhere that offers prime people watching and play What’s Your Story? (I really don’t have to explain that game, do I?)
31. Spend some time scouring movie blurbs at IMDb. (Again. Not to copy, but to be inspired!)
32. Think about the person who’s been the best influence in your life. Or the worst.
33. Knock the dust off of your failed manuscripts, (we all have a pile … and mine is rather large,) and think about why it didn’t work. Has time away given you new inspiration and better direction?
34. Read the obituaries and think of what has happened to those left behind.
35. Watch a documentary.
36. Imagine what your dog is thinking right now. Or cat. Bird. Lizard. Boa constrictor … although why oh why do you have a boa constrictor???
37. Play around at Random Story Title Generator 2.0.
38. Go to Pinterest and search “Book Ideas” and prepare for the next three hours of your life to be sucked down the Pinterest. drain.
39. Grab a cup of coffee and scan all the books on your shelves, just to see if inspiration hits.
40. Create a reverse book trailer by thinking of elements that would make someone die to read your book.
41. Think about the most dynamic person you’ve ever met. Amplify their quirks by a thousand and tell their story.
42. Play around with this Plot Generator.
43. Or this one: WritingExercises.co.uk
44. And maybe this one at Writers Den.
45. Keep a journal of personal stories and memories, like the time your parents told you that they’re taking you to a Baltimore Orioles game, which causes you to whine nonstop in the car, only to later feel really crappy when your realize they’re taking you to Kings Dominion Amusement Park! (Or maybe that just happened to me.)
46. As a friend, family member, or significant other if they have any great book ideas for you. (I do realize that this might be opening a can of worms seeing as how you might hate their idea, but hey. You never know. They could have a gem!)
47. House clean. I realize this is a weird suggestion, but I always get my best ideas while house cleaning. (And bonus: Your house will be clean afterwards.)
48. Spend some time snooping around on Wattpad for inspiration.
49. This one certainly is appropriate: Take inspiration from Julia Cameron and write Morning Pages every day for a week and see what shakes loose in your head! Why Morning Pages are awesome:
50. And finally, take Julia’s advice and go on an artist date to refuel! A museum. Movie. Open mic night at a café. Poetry reading. Open your mind and soak in those artistic juices that will help you…
Got any more tips on gathering book ideas? Fantastic, share your thoughts in the comments and I’ll add it!