I am a teacher. I know that a lot of you that read this are also teachers. I know that a few of you are writers, or want to be writers.
So let’s combine those.
First, teachers teach writing.
Second, I am a teacher, and I write books.
Third, I want more teachers to write. I think a lot of people don’t write because they aren’t sure how to get ideas.
I’ve written about it before, but the best way to get ideas for writing is simply to write first.
I’ve said it before. I will say it again:
Writing first. Ideas second.
Now, once you get the ideas going, you don’t just generate a list of ideas.
As a teacher, for years, I always taught my class to generate a list of ideas they could write about. They would keep this list in their journal, so if they were ever stuck for an idea, and they always were, they could refer to this list of ideas. Invariably though students would grow bored with the list and consequently they would have nothing again to write about, in spite having a list of ideas.
But this I have begun to teach my students to combine ideas. Take two things on their list, and create something new.
Combine your ideas with other people’s ideas and get something new.
My latest book, Baseball and Aliens, was born that way. I took two things I really liked, playing baseball and watching alien movies, and made something completely new.
This year I my students made a Love it or Loathe it list. They list things they LOVE and things they HATE, from there they can choose something to write. This year I added another element. They can combine something from the LOVE side with the LOATHE side.
For example, I love pizza. I hate math. (Not me, but what a student would write.) Now I have an image of pizzas that multiply when you eat them. I also imagine making pizza in the shapes of numbers. Or math word problems with only pizza involved.
In that example I took two things, combined them and came up with three new things. And if I spent more time I could have come up with more.
The best ideas come from the results of two or more ideas combined. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the combination of a fairy tale, animation, and the idea that cartoons could be feature length. Star Wars is the combination of Flash Gordon serials, the work of Joseph Campbell, and Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa. Facebook is the combination of stalking and an old Rolodex. And the classic email is simply the combination of mail and electronics. Great ideas are the combination of other ideas.
This is how you create new ideas.
Make a list. Take two things on that list and combine.
BAM! New idea.
A new creation!
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