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Three creative writing tools that will help you come up with ideas

In this series of posts I’m looking at three creative writing tools that will help you come up with ideas. The first post in the series is here and the second is here. Here’s the next one.

A conversation at a garden party

I had an interesting conversation at a garden party a couple of years ago, back when getting an invitation to a party was a normal thing. The person I was chatting to me told me how she doesn’t have a visual thinking process. She doesn’t visualise.

I’ve heard people say this before – memorably a heckler said it when I gave a talk about my dyslexia – but I’d never had an in-depth conversation. My party companion explained to me how visualisation doesn’t work for her at all – and it took my breath away because I am such a visual person and I had been teaching this technique for years.

I did used to teach visualisation as one of a range of techniques, telling participants to pick the tools that worked for them, which is always true – I’d never assume that my own creative processes would work 100% for other people, but nevertheless I am interested in working out whether there are common practices that can help the majority of people. I was wrong about this one. This won’t help everyone, but it could help you. Let me know in the comments if visualisation works for you.

The third creative tool

Caveat over, the third creative tool you can use to generate ideas is visualisation. This is where you picture something happening in front of you, like it’s in a film or on a stage, or you picture an object or a person without the filmic element.

Try it now

Try closing your eyes and picturing an apple, for example, or the face of a 100 year old woman, or an ancient tree. Fill in as many details as you can, using all of your senses. What happened? Did you create a vivid picture in your head?

Now try to picture something happening. What might life be like in five years time? If you’re writing a book, for example, imagine yourself winning a prize and what the award ceremony would be like. Again, fill in the details. Really picture it unfolding in front of you.

One of these types of visualisation – we practised it with the apple or the face – was fairly static, the other was animated and we practised that by imagining you in five years time. Both of these are useful for creative practice. The second is more useful for generating ideas.

Visualisation and idea generation

Why does visualisation help? You can think yourself into what you’re writing about. You can imagine you have a time machine and that you could go to any time in the past or the future, or you can image you could press a button and take yourself to the place or part of the world you’re talking about. You can also imagine yourself into any situation from dog training to wedding catering from photo shoots to delivering seminars.

This helps you develop empathy for your reader and if you can put yourself in their shoes, you are much much more likely to grab their attention.

The three tools

So there we have it, three creative tools that can help you to generate ideas:

Combine all three of these creative tools to generate ideas wherever you are. I said in the first post in this series that these tools don’t require much special equipment, and that they rely on the one thing you always have with you wherever you are, whatever time of day it is, and that’s you.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Louise xx

P.S. If you’re a blogger and want more on coming up with ideas for your blog, go here.

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