How to Generate Ideas for Writers

So, I just finished writing 2 books: one is my first travel journal, my story to find LOVE in 11 cities in the world (Yeap, I know you’re curious!) AND my first biography book, I wrote for my successful serial entrepreneur friend, Denny Santoso (you definitely want to read his success principles!). I’m pretty much in, not only holiday mood now, but also writing mood!

Earlier this morning, I found my old journal where I kept a note of a very inspiring list on how to generate ideas for writers.

I’m pretty sure I get this from some book, but I totally forgot the source. These tips have been my basic ground for writing.

Spend morning in a bookshop or cafe

Keep a notebook to compile ideas

Read ALL kinds of books; yes I still read more than 2 books a day   

Break your routines, try to ignite stories

“Steal” conversations from people

Talk to strangers! Talk to people you’re not usually talk to

Put your own stories or personal voice in it 

Do online research & be organized 

Start with excitements

Ask yourself: “What feeling I want to leave the reader?”

Write down the title that make you focus on the story

Read samples of stories openers in other books

Begin the story in the middle 

Lexicon – collect words and its meaning 

Tweak clichés

Imagine the story in your head 

Discuss the plot with someone else 

Write a memo to yourself about the story 

Write non-stop for 10 minutes 

Write the part that excites you 

Change your writing space, write everywhere 

Have a daily schedule for writing, I write best in the morning  

Make a list to accomplish 

  • Explore: read a lot
  • Gather: research
  • Organize: put it together in folders or notebooks
  • Focus: one thing at a time
  • Structure: use mind map
  • Draft: switch off the phone and write, don’t stop until you need to, get the first draft done
  • Reward: you can update your social media, travel more, etc
  • Revise: time to edit and make it perfect

If you can say it better, record it first then edit the transcript 

Build a story around conflicts and complications 

Use mind map to create your story from A to Z, put your topic at the center of the map

If you’re writing a fiction, use 5 parts plan by Robert McKee. 

  • Inciting incident
  • Progressive complications
  • Crisis
  • Climax
  • Resolution

Research other writers writing techniques 

Write scenes in Post-It. Play with it

Create “hills of middle” in the story 

Collect good endings from books and movies 

Pay attention to the editing part 

  • Check typos
  • Does the dictions are right for the target readers?
  • Is there any important questions you haven’t answer?
  • Is there any leaps of logic?
  • Recheck every facts

And last but not least: “The act of writing is what makes me a writer.” -Roy Peter Clark





A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO Storial.co & NulisBuku.com. Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.

One Comment

  • Annisa RUFAIDA

    Hi ollie! tulisan ini bikin saya terinspirasi lagi untuk menulis dan memulai dari awal lagi untuk memupuk hobi saya membuat cerita. dulu waktu sd, saya pernah menjadi juara menulis namun sayangnya tidak saya asah kembali. Sekarang setelah melihat banyak penulis sukses seperti ollie contohnya, saya jdi terinspirasi untuk mengasah kembali. terbesit ada rasa pesimis karena usia memasuki 30 yang mungkin tertinggal dgn mereka yg masih jauh lebih muda, tapi tidak ada salahnya mencoba kembali. wish me luck and wish you always success!!!


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