1. Watch Classic Mysteries.
I like the classic shows. Particularly, classic mysteries. Remington Steele. Simon and Simon. Murder, She Wrote. Charade. Miss Marple. Inspector Lewis.
What I like about them is (1) not every mystery is a murder. That’s something that bugs me about NCIS, CSI, Bones, and many other modern mystery shows, is that the majority of their cases are murder. (2) New shows take the detective work out. What I mean is, when I watch Remington Steele, there are clues the viewer can follow and draw theories on their own. I feel like newer shows keep everything in a shadow that can only be lifted by technology. Someone sits down to a computer and suddenly we know everything about a person.
Pinterest is both a writer’s best friend and an introvert’s reason for remaining purposely anti-social. I’m going to focus on the best friend thing. Pinterest is what I most often use to gather ideas for my stories. Writing prompts, dialogue prompts, character description, scene ideas, character names, and numerous other ideas are endless. I love it when I’m looking through a board of faces and one jumps out at me and says, “Tell my story.” Or when I find an unusual object that is just the thing one of my characters would have in their house. Or running across a line that makes me laugh out loud and think, “My character would say that!” The biggest benefit is probably the fact that I can create a board just for each story idea – a place where I can gather potential characters, settings, character lines, and any other inspirational images that will help me create a one-of-a-kind story. I usually make my storyboards private, so I can feel free to name characters and write ideas on each pin. On the other hand, I keep boards like “Characters”, “Character Costumes”, and “Scenes” public. These are things that have caught my eye, but have no connection to a story as yet, and things I’d want other writers to organize and share. Writers on Pinterest are usually super helpful to each other and really big on sharing and networking.
3. Writing Prompts with a Friend.
This one is a lot of fun. Grab a buddy – even if they aren’t a writer – and find some writing prompts. My best friend “Squirrel” and I love to do this. We take turns finding prompts and setting a time limit for each prompt. Then we each have a pen and notebook and let’s say 5 minutes to write as much as we can on that prompt. When the time is up, we read our writing to each other. I think the really interesting part of this activity is seeing how different people interpret the different prompts. Squirrel could use this prompt to write something dark and mysterious, while mine turns out humorous. So even if your friend doesn’t think of themselves as a writer, this is a chance to see how you see things differently. As a writer, doing prompts in this manner helps motivate you to start a story, exercise your creativity under a time limit, and find new approaches to a story.
4. Crocheting or Coloring.
I’m going to lump these two hobbies into one. Personally, I like to crochet blankets and I like to color. Both of these activities require me to hold and object that’s shaped somewhat like a pen. And I usually crochet and color while I’m watching a movie or TV show; so my head is focused on a mystery or some other problem and my fingers think they’re holding a pen. I hold a pen while I do lots of other things; it seems to help me pull ideas from what I’m watching – character mannerisms, keeping all the characters in a scene involved, plot twist ideas…If you’ve been a writer for very long, it can become common to connect ideas with holding an object in your writing hand.
5. Keep Track of My Dreams.
This one may not be very common to a lot of people. But I have always been very good at recalling the details from dreams I have days, weeks, or even years ago. Recently, due to pent-up anxieties, I’ve been having some particularly vivid dreams – some of them nightmares. I’ve started drawing story ideas from them. First, I see my dreams as a great way to see the “what if” in a situation. Second, I’ve found it helpful to me personally if turn my nightmares into stories. I know that sounds kind of morbid, but I’ve found it to be helpful, in that it’s a way to turn my anxieties into something useful. Even just pulling out a scene or a character or a bit of dialogue.
Maybe this one goes without saying. Everyone says, “to be a writer, you must read!” But it’s true. Read a lot of different things. And read a lot of the same things. I used to think “read widely” meant to read different things; which is true, but it also means to read the same kind of things by many different authors. For example, I read a lot of Supernatural fanfictions. And I didn’t consider that to be reading widely until I tried writing one. I recently wrote my first M-rated fanfic, and I couldn’t have pulled it off if I hadn’t read many fics like it. So find something similar to what you want to write and read as much of it as you can find. Find your favorites, enjoy it, and read other things by that author.