I don’t think Idea Deficit Disorder (IDD) is an actual medical term (although it should be). Running out of ideas is so common, I’m going to guess it affects most writers, and some of us suffer chronically from it.
Here are a few signs of having Idea Deficit Disorder:
- Routinely sitting in front of your computer staring into space with a blank look on your face while pinching your lower lip.
- Your most common expression to your significant other is, “I can’t think of anything to write about.”
- Habitually reading articles about how to find ideas to write about.
If that sounds like you, keep reading. In this article, I’m going to give you my favorite tip on getting ideas to write about, and then I’ll dig into why you might have Idea Deficit Disorder and how to fix it.
Generating unlimited ideas using Amazon
Here is my favorite way to find ideas to write about.
- Go to Amazon. Type a topic in the search bar. I typed “relationships”.
- Find a book that has thousands of ratings.
3. Click on the book’s image. On the next page, click on the book’s image again. Then click on the table of contents.
4. The table of contents will give you all the ideas you’ll need.
If you need ideas for titles that will trigger your writing, this tip will get you going. But if you have Idea Deficit Disorder, you need to know why you have it so you can fix it.
Putting too much emphasis on being unique
As soon as you get an idea, do you think, “It’s already been done.” If you do, you are putting too much emphasis on “uniqueness”. Every day, great ideas get squelched because the author thinks the idea isn’t unique enough.
When I think of an idea, then consider discarding it because it isn’t unique, I remind myself that there is nothing new under the sun. I wish I were smart enough to come up with unique ideas day after day. But I’m not that original. What I do that no one else can do for me is tell my story, my way, from my perspective. And that is how my writing is unique.
Don’t read what others have written. Write your own story.
When thinking of something to write about, it’s OK to use gimmicks to come up with ideas. But to keep content yours, don’t read the book, chapter, or article that gave you the idea. Write the content of your story with your own thoughts and words. I avoid reading articles that triggered an idea because I don’t want to plagiarize another author.
There are people who advocate finding a story, then rewriting it. The words may be different, but the article isn’t original. It’s a rehashing of what someone else has already done. As soon as I recognize an author is rewriting someone else’s work, I stop reading.
You worry too much about what people will think
When you get an idea for a story, do you say to yourself that it’s too simplistic or that people will think it’s a dumb idea? If you do, you’re putting too much emphasis on other people and what they think.
Readers aren’t writers. They are readers. They have a different view of writing. They want to learn something or they want entertainment. For them, reading is safe. They aren’t putting their thoughts and emotions out for the world to see and potentially applaud or ridicule.
Writing is a courageous business. Writers have the audacity to think that they have something to say that their readers will appreciate. They think and analyze. They construct their story one block of text at a time.
When writing, keep your reader in mind. Write for your reader and don’t worry about what the rest of the world thinks. If you focus on your reader, your thoughts and ideas will support your writing and make it easier.
You question your ability to write what people want to read
I had a neighbor that was a semi-pro bass fisherman. He fished every day. I’m not good at fishing, but I was interested in how he won prizes and earned money from fishing. One day, he asked if I wanted to go fishing with him. It was exciting. I’ve never been in a boat that was as fast as his. We crossed a lake in a few minutes.
Once we reached the spot where he wanted to fish, he said I could fish from the front of the boat while he fished from the back. In a couple of minutes, he caught a fish. Then he caught another, and another. I wasn’t catching anything, so he offered to change places with me. I was confident that I would catch fish from the back of the boat because that’s where my friend caught his fish. In a few minutes, he started catching fish from the front of the boat while I caught nothing from the back.
After fishing for a couple of hours, we went home. On the way, I asked him why I didn’t catch any fish while he had no problem catching as many fish as he wanted. He told me he had watched me getting bites all day. The problem wasn’t with the fish. They were giving me the opportunity to catch them, but I wasn’t feeling their strikes. The problem was with me. He said it took him years of fishing every day to learn how to catch bass.
There are always people who want to read what you write. Questioning your ability to “catch” your readers isn’t unreasonable. But keep in mind when you question yourself, that there are people wanting to read your writing but you have to learn how to write for them. You have to learn how to “catch” them.
Just like my friend who practiced fishing day after day, by himself, in the rain or heat, whether he felt like it, you have to learn to write what people want to read.
You have to write every day, even if you just practice how to write a description of a rock or a chair. Practice writing even when you don’t feel like it.
In time, you’ll know what your readers want to read, For most of us, it doesn’t happen in a week or a month. I’ve been writing for years, and I feel I’m still deep in the learning curve.
How do you generate ideas for your writing?
With enough practice, you’ll build your audience. They’ll love your writing and read everything you write. Until then, focus on knowing your readers until you know them as well as my friend knew bass fish.
How do you generate ideas for your writing?