Friday, November 11, 2011

Help! I Don't Have ANY Ideas!

They are adorable in that picture, aren't they? It's just too bad Vader has the creepy eyes going on...

Anyway, in our discussion about having too many ideas I obviously mentioned that I do not have that problem. And a few of you were with me on that one, in that our big problem is often not having any ideas at all! So, what do we do about it?

I think we have a couple of choices here, and I've used both. It also depends on the circumstances. First, if you don't have any ideas and don't feel like writing, well, just don't write! There is no law that says you have to. Your mom/boss/teacher isn't going to yell at you if you don't get your assignments done. If you are uninspired and you don't feel like writing, don't feel like you have to anyway. I don't think there's much chance of you churning out any great stories writing under those circumstances. I didn't write anything for a couple of months starting in the middle of the summer, whenever it was that I finished publishing my last story until I started writing the one I'm in the middle of publishing now. I had no problem with that. I didn't stress over it. I just sat back and read other people's stuff and worked on the blog and eventually, like always, another idea eventually came to me and I was excited to start working on it.

Other times I've been in the situation where I want to write. I've got plenty of time to write. But absolutely nothing is coming to me. Those times I find much more frustrating. And I feel as though the more frustrated I get and the more I try to force it, the less likely it is that I'll be able to come up with something. In these cases, I'd suggest first trying to come up with something silly and simple you can write and start there. Start with something totally mindless that doesn't involve heavy emotion or anything. Like, maybe, "Leia burns dinner." Or, "Han has a really bad cold and is being whiny." Seriously, just something silly that probably doesn't have a beginning, middle or end but at least is a fairly light-hearted situation that you can at least work on some interactions. If you can't think of one for yourself, go over to Nerfherder's Playground and check out some of the challenges there that might spark some ideas.

There was a brief period of time where Push and I weren't really writing anything major, so we gave each other a bunch of silly little challenges and for me at least it was great to have something short, simple and fun to write while I wasn't coming up with any interesting ideas on my own. None of these resulted in any amazing stories, but they did have us writing some cute little scenes that were fun to read and kept us in practice until we eventually started working on more major stuff again. So find a friend if you can maybe and issue challenges to each other. And one of our hopes here was to issue some missing moments challenges to things we thought were missed opportunities as we make our way through the EU, so be sure and stay tuned for that.

So I guess mostly just don't panic or stress about not having any ideas. They will come! Brainstorm some. Keep reading other people's stuff and if you have the time and desire do some other writing that you don't even intend to go anywhere. Eventually it might spark something.

Also, sometimes you might have trouble bridging a gap in one of your stories and that can't be tough, too. This is one of those times when it's okay to ask for help. I know I had Push totally pull together some logistical stuff for me when I was writing a certain scene for "All You Ever Wanted" and it was driving me crazy that I couldn't make it work. In like three sentences she totally summed up a legitimate way things could play out how I wanted, so that can definitely be helpful!

I should note that I don't have this problem at the exact moment since I'm in the middle of posting a story right now, so I'm not actually asking for help personally, just trying to help any of the rest of you and eventually I'm sure I'll need my own advice again!


  1. Vader's eyes are so totally creepy in that photo!

    Definitely having a friend or friends to bounce ideas off of helps. Hopefully this blog accomplishes that for lots of people, that was the idea anyway.

    I really don't have any advice. I don't "do" anything to come up with ideas, they just sort of come to me. I have brainstormed some in the past, you know, done some "What if's" to see if I could find a story somewhere.

    We really need to keep a lookout for those 'missing moment' challenges. Although, I didn't think we would hit on any until post-ROTJ anyway. IDK why, that's just what I thought. Maybe because the first thing we'd do is challenge each other to write Trip to Bespin stories...

  2. Another place to possibly try is the swficchallenge community on LJ. Okay, so I'm a member there and I have written exactly ONE story for the community...but most of the prompts there are one-word (or sometimes something like a quote, usually from a non-SW source), and not directly related to when something does set off a burst of inspiration, you get a lot of different responses, and everyone usually sticks to the characters, time periods, etc that they like best.

    Occasionally the prompts are something more specific, so if you're only writing Han/Leia (or even like me, only OT fic in general), "Jar Jar Binks" may not be the most inspiring prompt in the world ( could be. I know Push has managed to write Han and Gungans together very well! ;) ) But, it never hurts to watch communities like that. Even if 9/10ths of the prompts do nothing for you, there's a chance that something will set off a spark?

  3. I have to say I don't necessarily get full blown ideas. Occasionally. Mostly I get a snippet of dialogue or an idea for a situation. For one story have a general plot idea, the first scene, know how I want it to end, and some other ideas for scenes. Will be interesting to see how I end up fleshing out the rest of the plot.

  4. Thanks for the tip on the LJ thing, hikari, I'
    ll have to check it out.

    Amara, I'm with you in that often I don't really get full blown ideas. I do sometimes have little scenes come to me but they are totally meaningless without a story to go with them. Like, it might be a cute scene by itself but hardly makes for a story and usually needs something to get them to where they are. It's annoying.