How to Brainstorm: Finding Your “Muse Moments”

Posted on August 26, 2013



A huge part of writing is brainstorming. But let’s face it, every writer has encountered the dreaded “writer’s block” or had at least one time when he couldn’t come up with ideas. So how do you get those creative juices flowing when your muse is nowhere to be found?  The main trick is to always be ready for it, since your muse often arrives when you least expect it in “muse moments” that come and then vanish in a flash. Here’s how to best inspire and take advantage of these times:

1.      Take notes.

Whenever possible, keep a notepad, your phone, or some other note-taking tool with you. You might not be able to take notes right away, but if you have the material on hand you’ll still be able to jot ideas down a lot sooner than if you had to wait until you got home from work or running errands to do so. The simple fact of writing your inspiration down not only ensures that you won’t forget it, but also promotes further brainstorming as you write.

2.      Talk about your work.

 Sometimes talking to someone else about your work  gives you the opportunity to think of new ideas, look at it in a way you hadn’t before, or listen to someone else’s ideas. If you’re not currently writing anything, talk about what you’ve written in the past or general ideas for topics you’d like to write about but haven’t brainstormed enough about yet.

3.      Write down your dreams.

Many authors find that they get creative ideas for their books when they are either sleeping or just falling asleep or waking up. They make a habit of keeping a notepad and pen by their bed so that they can write their dreams or thoughts down immediately.

4.      Write in books you’re reading.

Yes, you read that correctly.  For many book lovers, “ruining” a book by making notes in it sounds like blasphemy; however, this kind of reading is a great promoter of creative thought. Think back to your school days when your teachers encouraged you to highlight or underline. One college professor told me to avoid “passive reading” by taking notes page by page in my textbooks. By jotting down thoughts as I read, I was forced to actively think about what I was reading. If you’re absorbing another’s words and ideas, you’re bound to think in a continuous creative pattern that will lead to ideas for your own writing.

5.      Read/watch the news.

Being aware of what is going on around you helps you stay tuned to real life. If you’re not experiencing life and observing others’ experiences, then what are you writing about? Whether your work falls in the fiction or nonfiction category, digesting the current news can bring unexpected writing material right to you. You never know what strange events might occur that could lead to a great idea to write about.

6.      Remember to be sympathetic.

Listen to what your friends, family, or even strangers are talking about; actually hear the stories they tell or the topics they passionately discuss. What have they experienced in life? Where have they gone? What sort of background do they have? Staying interested in the people around you helps you stay relatable. How can you write about topics that concern others or create realistic characters if you can’t imagine life from another’s perspective? Your writing material might be right in front of you in the form of your friend talking about a stressful job situation or a quirky stranger you stand behind in line at the bank.

7.      Think “leading” thoughts.

Whenever you hear about an interesting event, take your thoughts a step further. Just as a reporter asks leading questions to encourage someone they’re interviewing to speak further about a scenario, ask yourself questions that will get you to think more deeply about the things you’re seeing on the news or hearing about around you. What if this event had happened in a different location or in a different time period? How will this affect others? Consider stories you read or even scenarios or problems in your own life. What if you had done this differently? How could this be solved? Why is this important to you and others?

8.      Don’t overthink.

This may sound obvious, but sometimes the best way to come up with your next great idea is to stop racking your brain for one. Go for a walk, take a shower, daydream about something else, and relax. As your mind unwinds and you quit stressing, often inspiration will strike unexpectedly. Make sure you have that notebook handy for when it does….

“Muse moments” are definitely unpredictable, tricky things to deal with. There isn’t a mathematical equation or particular formula that works for everyone, every time. The keys are to be prepared, learn what works for you, and train your brain to always think and be alert. 

Rachel Schade, Writer, Editor, and Publishing Coordinator, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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