I've seen several comments lately on our posts, asking what to do when you can't think of ideas, or asking us how we brainstorm our ideas, etc. Comb through the comments to see our responses, but I had a new idea that hit me today that might help some of you.
You've probably heard before, the best way to get past writer's block is to sit your booty in the chair and write, something, anything, even if its totally awful and will never see the light of day. I think the same is true for getting past "idea block" or "creativity block" or whatever you want to call it. What if instead of forcing yourself to think only about fiction ideas, you wrote a magazine article instead? Or a poem?
Think outside the box and don't be afraid to venture a little. Especially if it's for your eyes only! But taking a few minutes to embrace or research a new angle of writing outside of fiction could really help break up the dam and get ideas flowing. Take a few minutes and find a current event and write about it. Pretend it will be published in the New York Times! Compose a "letter to the editor" about an issue you saw in a recent magazine article. Write a poem. Flesh out a nonfiction book proposal (loosely, don't spend hours on something you aren't passionate about that you know won't go anywhere! lol) Write a new blog entry. Try your hand at a comic.
You get the idea! Why not just see if it helps? And maybe in that poem or in that letter or magazine article you're writing or in the newspaper you're researching, an idea will spark for your next novel.
For me, taking a job as a freelance writer for a local newspaper really helped my fiction writing. It was fun to do something outside of the fiction box and in such a different style with different editing rules and what not. Granted, I get paid to do it, so I don't use this technique for brainstorming personally, but I can see how it could work.
Remember, there really isn't any form of writing that is wasted! All of it can help us grow in our craft and learn and develop and brainstorm. :)