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Penguin Books - Great Ideas

Penguin Books – Great Ideas (Photo credit: rich_w)

Do You Want to Write a Book, But Don’t Have an Idea? Follow These 5 Idea Generators

Fred Horstman PhotoBy Fred Horstman on November 24, 2013

You already have an idea for your book? Great! No idea for a book? That’s Okay. Use these techniques and you will be amazed at how many ideas you have for a book or for a new book.

If you already have an idea for your book, that’s great. Please work through the material in this article using your current idea and/or join us in developing new ideas. Open a new computer file so that you can work through the exercises as we progress. Start here to develop an idea for your next book. There’s nothing mysterious about coming up with ideas. Within a page or two, you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with. Your ideas start with YOU. When you think about what you enjoy, about your past experiences, and your knowledge, you’re guaranteed a regular flowing tap of ideas. Let’s turn on the tap and let it flow.

As you do the following exercises, work through them quickly. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down. Do them as quickly as you can, and then go and do something else for a few hours, to let the ideas grow and bubble in your subconscious mind. When you come back, read through the ideas you generated, and add to them as you read through your lists. Please don’t discard any ideas at this stage. This is because the way to a brilliant, fantastic idea is by twisting an idea slightly, reversing it, or by combining several ideas into a new one.

Searching for ideas alerts your subconscious mind that ideas are important to you. Over the next few days, you may get a nudge from an idea which says: “Write me down”. Do that right away, even if you’re in the middle of a shower, just woke up from a dream, or you’re driving along the highway. (If you’re driving, please pull over. You don’t want to die before you finish your book.) Write that idea down, because even if you’re one hundred per cent certain that you will never in this lifetime forget that amazing idea you just had, believe me, you will forget it, especially if you are getting older. Write it down, always. I mean now. Write it down now.

When you stay alert to the idea that is hovering in the corners of your consciousness, you will never be without a book developing in your head. This is how you turn your first book into a long series of books.

First thing in the morning is a great time, for some people, to generate ideas. Set your alarm ten minutes early, then sit up in bed and jot down 50 ideas. Other people function better before bed. Warning: the ideas might keep you up until the sun comes up.

The First Idea Generator:                                    

Image representing GOOD as depicted in CrunchBase

Image by None via CrunchBase

What are you good at?

Make a list of 20 things you’re good at. Don’t think too hard about this. Maybe you’re good at buying presents for people, you’ve got a knack for choosing just the right gift. Maybe you’re a good cook, a good parent, a good swimmer, a good lover, or a good tennis player. Or maybe you used to be good at one or more of these things. For example: I grew up helping my grandpa in the garden, and I worked on a truck farm for many years when I was young. I have a great deal of knowledge in this area and I have a green thumb. If I saw a gap in the market for a gardening book, I’d feel comfortable writing the book. Do you get the idea? List at least 20 things that you’re good at, or have been good at in the past. For example, if you know you’re an excellent horseback rider, even though you now live in an apartment, list “horseback riding”. Everybody is good at somehing.

The Second Idea Generator:                                   

The Ultimate Experience

The Ultimate Experience (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are your past experiences?                                      

Experiences sell. If you’ve been abducted by little green men from Mars, it’s a book. If you’re a bigamist, it’s a book. People have written books about their illnesses, their addictions, and their pets. Challenges create opportunities. Browse through the bestseller lists to see what personal experiences people are writing about.

Here’s where you walk down memory lane. If you’re in your twenties, it’ll be a short stroll. If you’re in your forties, it will be a hike. In your sixties? It’s going to be a journey. Again, don’t get bogged down with this, list 20 experiences you’ve had that spring to mind. The easiest way to come up with experiences is to work backwards through the stages or decades of your life. Let me say it again, don’t take a long time over this. Set yourself a time limit. Ten minutes is enough.

The Third Generator:                                        

Knowledge will make you free

Knowledge will make you free (Photo credit: tellatic)


Use Your Knowledge.

What do you know? Start by making a list of all the subjects you were good at in school. Then list all the jobs you’ve had. Yes, part time work counts.

Also list:

  • Your hobbies and interests. Are you a keen Chihuahua breeder? Do you quilt? Take photographs? You probably have figured out some pretty cool things that people would like to know.
  • Your current job. What are you learning in your job that other people would pay to learn? It might be simple stuff for you, but somebody else may really want that information.
  • The places you’ve lived. Your hometown may be boring to you, but guide books sell well. And you probably know interesting places the guide books have no idea about.
  • Your family tree. What special knowledge do your nearest and dearest have that you could write about? My great granddad had five wives and never got a divorce. He always ran away. (I don’t recommend this). Spend around ten minutes writing down as many subjects as you have knowledge about.

The Fourth Idea Generator:                                                       

Cook and Enjoy It 1995 book cover

Cook and Enjoy It 1995 book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you enjoy most?

My aunt, Virginia, freely admited that she cooks because she loves to eat. It was noticeable. Well she turned her love of food into a career. She regularly produces articles for newspapers and she has a bestselling e-book. Her chocolate recipes are to die for. What do you love? People have written about garage sales, cosmetics, cars, vacations. If you love something, chances are that thousands or maybe millions of others will love it too. Heck, my nephew makes good money writing about barbed wire. He is a collector.

Watch the newspapers and take note of current trends. Or better yet, listen to what your children are talking about, or asking you to buy for them. Children tend to be well up on what’s happening. How about telling parents how to play the games with their kid? That would be a good book.

Remember that it will take time for your book to get out there for sale. E-book shorter, in the bookstores much longer. Therefore, the currently hot topics on the bestselling lists may be old news before your book is in the stores. This doesn’t mean of course that you can’t write on perennial favourites like money, sex, weight loss, love, and exercise. These topics never go out of popularity, and a new twist on one of these is always a sure bet.

The idea of writing about what you enjoy is that you will be bringing passion and enthusiasm to your topic. And enthusiasm is a must.

The Fifth Generator:                                            


Opportunity (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)


Going From A Challenge To An Opportunity

We face challenges every day. Most are minor, some are major challenges. If you’ve ever faced a large challenge, or if you’re facing one right now, then consider that the things you learn could help other people. Whatever your challenge is, whether it’s moving to a new location or confronting a life-threatening illness, other people face the same challenges, and in those challenges lie the seeds of books.

Make a list of 20 challenges you’ve faced in your life. Anything catastrophic qualifies: losing your job, facing bankruptcy, the betrayal of a spouse, loss of a body part, and so on. If you’ve had a quiet life, then make a list of challenges that the people you know have faced. Additional challenges you can consider include any habit you’ve broken, from congenital lateness to overeating.

When you’ve finished going through these five idea generators, you’ll have brainstormed dozens of book ideas. Weed out the non-starters. Don’t delete them, move them to another computer file. Call it “odds and ends” or something like that. Now is for the Checklist. Is this the right idea for you today?

You’ve worked through the idea generators, and you have one or more ideas which you feel would work as a book. The next step is to scrutinize your primary idea carefully. Consider your idea and look at this list of questions. See if you can answer “Yes” to all of them:

Am I enthusiastic enough about this subject and my ideas about it to sell this proposal to an agent, an editor, and to readers?

Will I retain my enthusiasm through the months it will take me to complete the book?

Is there a market for my book? Have I checked Amazon.com and bookshops for competing titles? Am I convinced there is a market for my book?

Can I find people with expert knowledge to interview as I write my book?

Does my book provide solutions to problems?

If you can answer YES to most of these questions, you’re set. Great! We’re going to start work on your book.

Go get ’em!

Aleksandra Mir, Let's Go Get 'Em!, 2007

Aleksandra Mir, Let’s Go Get ‘Em!, 2007 (Photo credit: 16 Miles of String)

Fred Horstman PhotoAuthor: Fred Horstman

Read more: Do You Want to Write a Book, But Don’t Have an Idea? Follow These 5 Idea Generators http://www.sooperarticles.com/writing-articles/writing-articles/do-you-want-write-book-but-dont-have-idea-follow-these-5-idea-generators-1272471.html#ixzz2m7gX8j4k
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