• generate new ideas
  • develop new methods for idea generation

How often have you heard that we all have a story in us?

Well, you’re signed up for this course and are reading this, so you must have a story in you, bursting to get out. And that is fantastic. 

The desire to tell a story is amongst our more primal forms of communication, an ancient way for us to pass on vital life lessons from one generation to the next, to enhance survival chances and continuation of our species.

But ideas are rarely fully formed. They come in fragments: maybe it’s a character or a scene, or an emotion or feeling. Usually layered upon, bit-by-bit, over time. And finally, when those small elements start to merge, they form something more coherent that can germinate into a full story idea.

We all get ideas, some of us every single day, often when in the shower, out on a walk or sitting on the loo! YES, it’s always at those times when you can’t jot them down. But it’s important you do. 

Lately, I’ve become better at this, and it’s made such a difference to my current story. I used to think if I had an idea for a story, it would just stay in my head if it was good enough. I now realise that while more than 90% of my ideas will probably never make it into a story, I’m giving myself the choice of much more material than I ever had before.

Creativity begets creativity. The more ideas you write down, the more ideas you’ll have.

But what if you’re one of those people who never gets ideas. Or doesn’t know what to do with them, how to make a story from that seedling. To make it germinate, flower and look beautiful upon a shelf…

Simply study the world around you, the people in it, the situations in the news…study them and ask one massive question: WHAT IF?

What if Luke wasn’t a moisture farmer, but was actually a Jedi Knight?

What if Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter, was actually an alien with superpowers?

What if a boy thinks he’s doing a computer simulation of a space battle, but he later finds out it was real?

What if Stuart White was really a Sith Lord, sent to train unsuspecting children’s writers in the ways of the Dark Side of the Force?

Just keep observing, keep asking WHAT IF and sooner or later the ideas will start to form and develop.

So, I’m guessing you all have come to here with an idea for a story? Shall we get germinating then?

Germination: the process of something coming into existence and developing.

So, you’ve been observing. You’ve been asking WHAT IF?

Now, what. Well now we have to start doing some work. We need to write them down. Whenever they come to us.

In the bath, shower, or even in the gym. Most conveniently, in the middle of the night, when you can’t sleep.

Some people like a notepad by the bed, others use their notes app on their phone. Some people just keep it all in their head (warning: this is the best way to forget those ideas).

Write them down. It’s okay if you only have 3 or if you have 30. Write them all down.

One great thing about idea generation is that this is a great point to really look at how you can mash different, often opposing concepts together.

At this stage, it’s just an idea. If it doesn’t work out, no worries. You’ve not put too much effort or time into it yet. So if you have to discard it, that’s okay.

So be inventive. Be creative.

You want to tell a love story between a surfer and a merperson? That’s cool. You also want to write a story about a new colony on the Jupiter moon, Titan? Also very cool.

Could you work together? Could you take two cool ideas, mash them up, and get a UBER idea?

I mean, there are oceans on Titan. It is proposed as a future possibility for human habitation. It’s not such a terrible idea…

Okay, yes it is terrible! Really bad! So many logistical problems to start with. And it kinda doest work.

But that doesn’t mean the very act of imagining that was a waste of time. You might adapt it slightly. Could the surfer actually be an astronaut and the mermaid be a martian? You see the ideas, weird and whacky start germinating from that initial seed and the daring ambition to push it further. To be ambitious and to not be afraid of dreaming up something new.

Be bold, be courageous, dream big with those ideas and see what comes.

It’s time to work!

Yes, that’s right – let’s get that list written. Spend the week doing it. Keep the phone or notepad handy. Or remember to type them into your computer every time you sit down. Spend seven days dreaming up new things, and allowing them germinate a little, and don’t be afraid of doing something weird and different. We are all weird and different, so why shouldn’t our stories be?