I read an article last week about five things that top innovators in business do to get their creative thinking going. Since we’re all engaged in creative work, I thought we could learn something from this list:
As writers, we can question anything and everything! Questions often give birth to new books. What if a boy grew up not knowing he was a wizard? What if one of your classmates was a vampire? What if there really were dragons? What if nuclear fusion solves all our energy problems but creates other troubles?
Try this: Write down ten questions a day. They could be questions about your book, your characters, your life, the world, anything!
Writers and poets have been described as those who can see clearly the human condition. We must observe in order to understand. We must draw from life to create living, breathing characters who respond in authentic ways to the things that happen in our stories.
Try this: Watch the people around you. Each day capture some small incident in words. Try to write it exactly as it happened.
Try new stuff! If you write paranormal romance, try a rhyming picture book, or a biography. Trying new things makes new pathways in your brain, and you’ll never know what you’ll find when going down a new path!
Try this: Take a small piece of writing, yours or someone else’s, and experiment with it. Change the prose style, write the scene from a different point of view, write it for a different audience. See what happens.
As writers, we can spend our lives cooped up with our keyboards, perfectly content to hang out with our imaginary friends. Pleasant as this is, it can lead to stagnation. Call a friend, go visit a neighbor, join a writer’s group. Go to workshops and conferences. Talk to other writers, learn what they’re doing. Their exciting new ideas can spark your own.
Try this: Seek out writers or other creative people and say, “So tell me what you’re working on right now.”
Now put it all together. Take what you’ve gained by questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. Look for the connections. Try putting seemingly unrelated ideas together and see what you come up with.
Try this: Take a few of your questions, put them together with something you’ve observed, and use it all to write an experimental short story in a genre you’ve never tried before. Then find a friend who will read it for you. I volunteer!