on the topic of writing: how ideas come to me

More than once someone has asked how I come up with my writing topics. It might be a disappointment. I do not sit in an isolated seaside villa and pound intensely upon a typewriter like Hemingway. There is no passionate and unpredictable muse for me like Zelda was to Fitzgerald. I woefully admit no strict routine exists nor is there a well of inspiration from which I pull.

In truth, I have little control over what sparks my interest. For though I am extremely mindful in process and follow an organized structure for content creation, when it comes to topics I fly by the seat of my skirt.

A BOOK PLOT OR STORY ARC can come from a random news article, television show, commercial, movie, song, or conversation. Basically anything triggers my mind to wander off to another level or toward something seemingly unrelated. But in all honestly, my book ideas often arise from an incessantly nagging question – the WHAT IF?

What if…
a young wife and mother was broken by grief? (Still Life)
the wrong choice was the only choice for survival? (The Choice Not Taken)
a woman questioned her second chance at love? (Muse)
I could talk to someone I lost – namely my dad? (Spirit)
the horrors of cancer led to happily ever after? (The Oak Tree)
rejecting who we were denied our greater purpose? (Revelations)
one woman had a chance to do everything over? (Never Letting Go)
a painful, buried memory was suddenly recovered? (The Country Wife)
a shattered dream could be put back together? (Everything She Has)
a woman changed everything about herself for love? (Current Work In Progress)

BLOG TOPICS also appear haphazardly. I usually have two dozen “titles” for LaPalm Books and Inspired ME, Joyful BE. These are ideas I might explore – there is no content written or research done. My blogging is similar to writing books except the topics dwell on the problems and possibilities of life – a constant search for answers to WHY? and WHY NOT?

For example…
I was listening to the radio and happily singing along when my mind paused and began to incessantly repeat one lyric – “better to be safe than sorry.” The phrase seemed like a good blog article title but just then my thoughts abruptly shifted (they rarely linger in one place). It is better to be sorry than safe – as in taking chances, weighing the opportunity for risk against a life of regret. And from that came a revised topic and working title, Regret vs Risk. I immediately added it to my possible idea list (because I forget fast) and though I may not write about it, once my head wraps around a potential topic the rest usually follows.

Even when I am not writing, it is comforting to have ideas waiting for me to explore.

The key is understanding which random thoughts carry potential and then getting the bare bones of those ideas on paper so I will remember later on. Because I have learned: this is often the true beginning, my point of inspiration – the aha moment where I might have something worth sharing. 

And as a writer, I never want to lose that.

By now you have probably realized I am an over-thinker. I always have been. I believe most writers are. But what I once viewed as a negative personality trait has become one of my greatest blessings. I realize it brought me to where I am today – a writer / author / blogger. Perhaps even better, this is where I always wanted to be.

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