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One of the most common questions that authors seem to get asked is “Where do you get your ideas for your books?”.
Similarly, one of the most common questions asked of bloggers is “How do you know what to write about?”
The answer to both is a balance of consumption and production. You cannot produce creative work of any kind without filling your mind with wonderful and varied fodder for the composting of imagination.
You must consume.
You must fill your creative well with new ideas. Your mind will combine these thoughts together in new ways for innovative writing – whether fiction or blogging, or anything else creative.
Forms of consumption include:
- Reading – books, magazines, blogs
- Listening – music, audiobooks,
- Experiences like pushing your limits in sport, tackling fear head-on, eating a 7-course degustation menu at a fantastic restaurant
- Looking at visual arts – cinema, art galleries, (ok, even some TV shows might count!)
- Talking and socialising, asking people their stories
- Learning – going to seminars, taking a class
- Understanding and feeling – your own life, therapy, listening to children, old people
Live a life worth writing about. Consume with enthusiasm and make time for it or your mind will wither and you may feel blocked, or uninspired.
Be careful what you consume.
The word consumption is now tainted with gluttony in a consumer society that throws away so much. It is important to watch what you consume and don't overdo it as you can feel sick and unfulfilled by consumption to excess. Consuming bad experiences won't help your creativity much either. Watch what you put in your mind.
Reflect and produce something new.
Now take that experience, whatever it was, and turn it into words or images. Make something of it that stretches your creativity, that limbers up your creative muscles. If you read a book or go to a seminar, write an article or blog post on what you learnt. If you are struck by a painting at an art gallery, add it to your novel as an experience for your protagonist.
Balancing what goes into your mind and what comes out again allows for a constant stream of creativity to flow. Get out there and experience life, and then write it out again.