The thought of writing your first book feels good. But the joy may also come with the anxiety of writing your first book.
You unconsciously drift into overthinking and spend more time than necessary on thinking of your story idea.
What should you write about? Should you write fiction or non-fiction? What genre? Will your writing be of interest to readers? And so on…
Do you have similar questions?
That’s indeed a good sign. It means you’re sincere about your book.
It’s possible a visit to your neighborhood bookstore or Amazon’s endless Kindle book listings are making you anxious.
You see aisles of books neatly stacked up and notice that your idea is not unique. Someone (in fact many other authors) have already nailed the topic.
This makes you wonder if looking like an imposter to the world is worth burning the midnight oil.
If you’ve been feeling the same way, then this blog post is for you. In this post you will learn:
- How to tap into different sources to find the story idea for your book that readers will love
- How to use creative writing prompts to nail down your story idea
- Learn about a proven method of finding blockbuster story ideas that sell
Shall I show you now?
Story ideas based on your hobbies and interests
Like many men of my generation, all I could manage well into my early 30s was to make a cup of tea and maybe a hard-boiled egg.
So when I got married I was not much help to the love of my life in the kitchen. She somehow adjusted and managed as all women do.
But our Karma gets to us in many interesting ways.
So I had to take a 3-month long business trip to the US. And as you may have guessed it already, I was forced into learning to cook.
Eating out every day was out of the question. Long story short, to my pleasant surprise I discovered that I actually enjoyed cooking. I learned and experimented with several recipes. And I kinda had fun in the kitchen.
The experience also helped me relate better to my mom and my wife. I became empathic, if I may.
Can I turn this hobby/life experience into a book? Of course I can – Quick & Easy Recipes for an Indian Bachelors in the US. 😛
My point is we all have hobbies. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert.
Being deeply interested in something is good enough to start. We develop varied hobbies and interests while growing up. There are hobbies we continue to keep and discover new ones in our adulthood.
One of the reasons I feel this is the best place to start is – joy. Yes, joy.
Because our hobbies and interests are choices we’ve made ourselves and every time we engage in them we are happy. I don’t know of anyone who gets bored pursuing their hobby.
Similarly writing a book is a long process. Many aspiring authors who start with a lot of excitement give up midway simply because they picked the wrong topic.
Your motivation will remain high if the topic is to your liking. And believe you me you’ll need a ton of motivation to help you finish that book.
So note down your hobbies and special interest. Do some research on the Internet and you’ll have a captivating story idea in no time.
Your Skills or Expertise
All of us engage in some form of economic activity to earn a livelihood.
And over time build deep skills or expertise in an area of work. The technical jargon used to address such individuals is ‘domain expert’ or ‘subject matter expert (SME)’.
On the other hand, there are people who are either looking for a solution to a problem or learn something to help them grow.
Put these two together and you’ll have a few ideas right away.
You can write a book that helps readers in one way or the other.
This is also the fastest way to publish your book since you don’t have to spend an extraordinary amount of time researching the subject. Put an outline together and you will be chugging along on the way to your first draft.
Another good reason to write a book in your area of work is that it projects you as an authority on the topic. Many SMEs also write a book and use it as a marketing tool to build their personal brand, promote their business and win high-value customers.
Your Life Experiences
Did you or someone you know defeat cancer? Did you do a 90-day retreat in the Himalayas? Did you start your professional career as a banker but are now a successful dancer?
Or did you fail your high school board exams but went on to become the CEO of a large corporation?
All of us have memorable life experiences. Some memories bring joy while some don’t. Building a story idea from your own life experience will also make it unique since you’re the only one in the whole world who experienced it in your own way and lived to tell the tale.
In fact, you may end up helping many. Some may learn to cope and handle difficult times while others will feel inspired to take action and fulfill their dreams after reading your book.
Personally, I feel a story idea originating from the gorges of one’s soul has excellent chances of connecting with readers.
Stories Around You
I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s immortal words, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
The connectedness of the Internet and the ubiquity of mobile phones has put the world right into our palms. There are stories happening all around us, every day.
All you need to do is sign into Facebook, switch on your TV or if you prefer, pick up the newspaper. Stories of love, sacrifice, crime, humor in real life happen every day by the hour.
There is absolutely no shortage in the supply of inspiration for you to translate into a great story idea.
In fact here’s a list of 11 bestselling novels that were based on incredible true stories. Dust off those old newspapers perhaps?
Use Creative Writing Prompts
A writing prompt is a short sentence that is written specifically to help a writer write about a particular topic. Those who’ve taken writing classes must have used them aplenty during their writing assignments.
Their purpose is to help open up a writer’s imagination and creativity by giving the mind a little push in a specific direction and start writing.
There are a ton of websites where you can find hundreds of creative writing prompts for fiction as well as non-fiction. Just google the phrase.
In case you are looking for a guide to make your own writing prompts, Jay Sacher’s ‘The Amazing Story Generator: Creates Thousands of Writing Prompts‘ should be a good investment. It is a spiral-bound flipbook meant for those engaged in creative writing.
It’s divided into 3 sections that you can mix and match using 3 key elements – an event, a character, and a challenge.
Using these leads you can, using your own imagination and creativity, create your own unique writing prompt, or generate the core idea of your story.
Take a Course on Story Ideas
We now know that the foundation of a bestselling book is a great story idea.
And if you like me to prefer learning a step-by-step method on how to generate story ideas for your book then you must sign up for this course on Udemy – “Develop Blockbuster Story Ideas That Sell” by Jessica Brody.
Jessica clearly demonstrates an exceptional understanding of what “works” with not just readers but also agents and publishers.
The course teaches 5 different proven methods to generate story ideas, mainly for fiction writers.
Coming up with a story idea for a book is not rocket science. Everyone has one and thinks that their idea is the best.
However, the USP of the course is that you’ll learn the exact same technique that the tutor has used to come up with story ideas for her own bestselling novels.
All you need is a couple of hours over the weekend.
It’s not easy to come up with a terrific story idea. You are bound to feel anxious – will it work? And it’s alright.
No one can tell you with absolute certainty if you have a million-dollar idea. It’s a discovery we make in hindsight.
But what you can begin with is this.
Enroll in the course above and then use one of the 4 approaches I discussed above to come up with 2 or 3 story ideas.
Summarize them, discuss them with your friends and family. Post it on your Facebook wall and wait for people’s reactions. There you go – you just validated your story idea!
Now you can decide if you should proceed to the next step or move on to the next idea. You can also buy the Amazing Story Generator flipbook to augment your story idea generation process.
Basically, don’t lose sleep over the process of finding the perfect story idea or overanalyze it.
Just follow the steps above and get on with it. In no time you’ll notice you’ve finished the first chapter of your book.
Start right now.