Writing Exercise: Active Idea Search

We hear it over and over, editors are searching for unique ideas and stories they haven’t read before. That’s the tough part, because it seems that most all stories have been told already. Or have they?

Finding a new idea is our goal today.  Now when I say new, I don’t mean so bizarre that it’s not writable.  Space squids searching for the holy banana of peace is a new idea, at least I’m pretty sure it is, but is it something you’d want to write about? Or more importantly, read about? Or maybe it is, I won’t judge.  Go for it!

As writers we usually keep our eyes and ears open for little gems we can weave into our stories. Today we are actively seeking ideas.

Writing Exercise: 

1. Arm yourself with your trusty notebook, or whatever you use to capture your writing gems.

2. Select your sources – choose between 3-5 of the following founts of information, or choose your own:

  • Youtube videos
  • Magazine articles
  • People in the supermarket
  • The recommend reads shelf at your local library
  • Audio podcast of a topic you are interested in
  • Your photo albums
  • A movie in your collection
  • The radio
  • Wikipedia random article
  • A favorite website of your choice
  • A phone conversation with a friend
  • Your Facebook news feed –
  • Or Instagram –
  • Or other social media outlet
  • Random word generator, then put the word into Google and select, “I’m Feeling Lucky”
  • A box in your home you haven’t opened in years
  • The back of a drawer you don’t open often

3. With each source spend only 5 minutes.  You want to seek out the tidbits that interest you or catch your attention. It can be some words, or an image, a place, or even a feeling. It doesn’t have to feel like a story or an idea, that will come later.  What’s important is to find different elements that speak to you.

4. Now you have between 3-5 different story elements for when you are looking for something new!


“The Favorite” by Georgios Lakovidis

Here are mine –

  • Youtube video about not being lazy – Crazy busy people sometimes feel bad about about periods of rest because they feel like they aren’t working hard enough.
  • Facebook – Magical key wrapped in silver wire with jeweled leaves
  • Wikipedia random article- Somondoco, ancient Colombian village where there are emeralds in the nearby mountains
  • Random word “Grandparent”  – Picture of old man who looks like a cobbler, is wearing a floppy pointed hat and red scarf around his neck.  A baby, perhaps one year old sits on his knee, she has curly red hair.
  • Favorite website (failblog:win) –  Robotic pack mule by Boston Dynamics

Stay tuned, next week we will play with our new ideas and create the bones for a new story!

Click here for other writing exercise posts!

About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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1 Response to Writing Exercise: Active Idea Search

  1. ericjbaker says:

    People in the business say they are looking fro new and original, but judging by what shows up in the bookstore and on Amazon, I kinds feel like that is lip service. It’s the right thing for them to say, even if their business decisions suggest otherwise.

    That aside, I like your creative approach to coming up with something new and different.

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