Every writer faces challenges in identifying what to write. Writing requires ideas that are organised clearly and compellingly. However, good ideas would appear out of nowhere, but from clear thoughts. Although no universal definition exists for developing ideas for writing, there are varieties of known strategies that can help get started, besides specific methods for developing ideas for furthering creativity. Use any of these strategies to achieve particular writing goals or when stuck for right words.
But how ideas come?
It is a concern deserving of an interesting finding, but that also reflects the challenging aspect of writing. Then how one decides what and how to write? An aspiring writer needs to be inventive. Being inventive is synonymous with being creative. People that are creative excel at using their imaginations.
There are ten techniques for the practice of invention useful for a writer as a guide. These techniques are Analyzing, Brainstorming, Freewriting, Forward-Focused Writing, Loop writing, Taking Feedback, Reading More, Visualizing, Asking Questions, and Physical Activity.
A writer can find one of these techniques to be more productive than the other based on his writing choices, relevance, and readership. It may also be beneficial to use different techniques for varying purposes. It is not necessary to use these techniques step-by-step, but use any technique as deem fit. Consider this list to be a collection of suggested options to implement at leisure.
This approach involves evaluating a task or a point, which is a good place to start when it comes to analysing ideas because it allows looking at the limitations and usefulness of the prompted topic before expanding it. Ask probing questions such as what is the subject or idea to write about? Who is the target audience and what they know and what is their understanding level? What kind of writing is this for such as – a report, a research paper or general writing? And what purpose it serves? When a text develops with questions, it can expand with additional details upon rereading. This knowledge and insight can point toward innovative ideas, expanding expertise in writing sentences.
Ideas can grow and change as writing continues, or making a revision. Continue with experimentation of invention techniques not tried before as also mixing the techniques. Become ambitious and as much inventive as possible in the idea generation process.
Brainstorming may be useful for creating a wide range of potential ideas. With brainstorming an idea, many alternatives can emerge leading to various concepts. Put all this in writing either in bits or in complete sentences, irrespective of how good or weird they look. A weird idea can sometimes turn out to be helpful. And, sometimes the first step toward realising that potential is to recognise that odd. Later on, in the writing process, spend more time evaluating the utility of such alternatives and determining which one best relates to communicating with the targeted audience. Brainstorming eliminates reasons for listing options and encourages studying all ideas.
An idea can then expand by Freewriting, a term used byPeter Elbow, a Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. According to this technique, it is “a process of writing without stopping, without editing, without sharing, without worrying about grammar, without thinking, without rushing.”
This process can enable the free flow of words to create continuous writing to track down all thoughts on the topic. Do not hesitate to repeat the same word or sentence many times if necessary without concerning mistakes or logical gaps and do not pause to rewrite. Simply allow thoughts to flow and transform into words in whatever form they take. Interesting possibilities may emerge as a result of this organic dialogue that was previously unconsidered.
Do not read the written matter backward to change or correct in this technique. As the writing progresses, feel as if the written matter has become invisible. This technique eliminates the temporary desire to rewrite
This concept can further develop by another technique known as “Loop Writing”, a technique developed by Peter Elbow. This technique requires underlining important words or lines. Then those lines or words become further drilling down points of a topic to get new and additional insights. Choose a particularly identified text and attempt further writing to derive new insights. Repeat this process as many times as believed necessary. Thus, loop writing may help in developing those ideas. This technique allows concentrating on the parts of written text that sound constructive, helping to narrow in on those ideas before expanding on them.
Show the written script to someone or discuss and take feedback. This aids in how others understand the written text. Other people’s interpretations could give new ideas and inspiration to think deeply and write better.
Find a book on the subject and read it, taking notes on what other people have written that is interesting. Using these notes as a guide for the rest of the writing process may be beneficial. Analysing what other authors have written about the topic can help learn more about it.
This is another form of brainstorming technique. This allows visualising how thoughts work together and relate to each other. Make a note of a concept and then visualise for ideas that apply to it. Continue mapping thoughts that need expanding however productive they may be and identify commonalities between the thoughts by marking or highlighting. This method helps to come up with ideas while visualising how they work together.
From time immemorial, it is a known fact that text begins with an idea. Finding one such idea and figuring out how to create it takes time and effort. For example, in ancient times Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, listed over twenty-four ideas for a speaker to choose from for saying something on a particular topic. He recommended that defining key concepts, thinking about how one topic compares to other topics, or identifying its causes and effects are good places to start. This is a technique suggested by Aristotle, according to which asking questions like what, when, why, where, how concerning a topic should yield answers, making a topic meaningful to write. Then ask further follow-up questions like what is the reason for this? Why is this so? How am I aware of this? How might another person respond to this question diversely? What answer he could give. Ask such endless questions innovatively to generate ideas to turn into content for writing.The list of questions is based on the topoi categories that Aristotle and Cicero recommended.
Centuries later, Cicero, another Roman thinker, added extra guidance on the questions on similar lines as above to use for developing arguments. This technique is useful because it leads to ideas innovation. From ancient times, this tried-and-tested method of asking questions had guided writers and speakers alike in relation to generating potential arguments.
This strategy allows some relaxation to the mind for fresh stimulation. Go for a stroll or riding or go for some other outdoor activity. This gives a break from the writing activity. Mull over ideas for an article during some of such outdoor activities. This technique allows relaxation to the mind distancing from writing stress while also stimulating the mind to think about new perspectives through such physical activity.
The writing process needs a lot of effort and hard work. Developing plans, changing sentences, rewriting, and sentence sequencing require effort and time. A writer can follow any of these steps independently.