Getting Too Many Ideas For Writing

By Ruth Barringham

I received an email recently from someone asking me where I get all my writing ideas from. They said that as well as putting out a regular newsletter for writers, I also publish blog posts, online articles and I'm always writing books. And they wanted to know how I come up with constant ideas of what to write.

So that got me thinking. How do I know what to write about? Where exactly do my ideas come from?

I started looking at all the things I’ve written (well, not all of them because there are too many over the years) and all the things on my to-do list.

The emailer was right. I do put out a regular writing newsletter, I have blogs that I often post to, I have my online articles for this website and I write and make freelance submissions.

I’m also currently working on a new layout for my writing website and adding pages such as a book review page, a writing resources page, and an about page, plus several more. I also have plans for a few free ebooks that I’ll be giving away as PDFs, I have also been busy outlining a series of novels, and I’m always journaling. I love to write in my journal. I actually have several different journals that I use for different subjects that I’m thinking about and making plans for. I also have a big folder with To-Do written on the front and it’s bursting with articles and stories waiting to be written.

Plus I also have a list in one of my notebooks called “loose pages” which is a list of things to write from a big punch of loose pages that are in the back of the notebook. Just looking through those loose pages makes me realise just how much writing I have to do.

I also have 3 Ideas notebooks where I list every idea I have. One of those notebooks is just for book ideas. I also have several folders on my computer called “To Write” and “eBook Ideas.”

So how do I come up with so many ideas?

I think it’s because I’m always learning. I’m a perpetual student and I’m always working my way through a book about writing and publishing, or I’m doing a course, or attending an online webinar, or I’m listening to an audio/podcast and taking notes.

And I don’t study things just once. When I find a good book or a course or something similar, I go over it again and again because there is always something new that I pick up.

I also read books and listen to podcasts about psychology because it helps with marketing. I read and listen to things about marketing too. In fact, I’m interested in all writing-related topics like procrastination, web design, blogging, and time management.

So I guess, the way I come up with so many ideas is because I have the mind of a writer. I’m always learning and studying and even when I’m reading a novel, I read it with the mind of a writer, not a reader. It’s just a habit I’ve unconsciously gained after years of writing and publishing.

But that’s what happens when you love doing something. You take a deep dive into it and learn everything you can. I also enjoy sewing and cooking, so I’m always searching around for more recipes, and I go to sewing and quilting fairs and spend hours talking to the stallholders about how projects are done. It fascinates me to see what other people do.

I also follow many writers and marketers on social media and I subscribe to their emails just to see how they do things and the successes they have.

I don’t think I’ll ever lose my curiosity about subjects that interest me, and that’s probably because they do genuinely interest me. I’ve even read books on cleaning, decluttering and minimalism so that I can clean my house efficiently, quickly and have less stuff to look after.

My answer to the emailer is that I’m always learning. I’m not just a writer, I’m interested in writing. It’s not something that I do just because I think I want to be a writer, or because I think it’s an easy way to make money. I genuinely enjoy writing.

Asking how I come up with writing ideas is like asking a gardener how they know which plants to put in their garden or how they know which fruit and vegetables to plant and when to plant them. They enjoy working in the garden and so they take an interest in everything about it and so they never run out of ideas about what to plant and when and how to have the best soil and the best watering system. They know because they love what they do. Just like I do.

I get ideas for writing the same way I get ideas for other things I enjoy doing. If I want to cook, I look for recipes. If I want to sew, I browse a few sewing sites or go the sewing store and look through the pattern books.

If I want ideas for writing, I browse the library or look through a few online magazines or look through my to-do lists.

In other words, I just start looking. And before I know it, I’ve found something to inspire me and get my creative mind working.

If you’re struggling with ideas, start browsing and see where it leads you.

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