15 Creative Writing Topic Ideas


Taking a creative writing class can help you develop your composition skills, a talent much needed in the working world. Despite micro-blogging, text messaging, and various short message service sites, gifted writers are needed who can develop manuals, write legal briefs, tell stories, and convey ideas.

Brain Lock

There is a topic idea in there somewhere!

But coming up with content ideas can be difficult especially if your college professor leaves the topic open ended. That means you need to come up with your own subject matter and find something that won’t leave you, your professor, or the entire class in a catatonic state.

To that end, I offer to you the following tips to help stimulate your cerebral cortex. As someone who must come up with several titles on a daily basis, I know what it means to be stuck for ideas. Here are some secrets to finding ideas for your next creative writing project.

1. Take a walk. Yes, leave your overcrowded dorm room or exit the library and head outside. Alone. Without your ear buds. Take a walk around campus and, if it is a particularly lovely day, take note of your surroundings. Even if your school is located in the middle of an urban jungle, admire the campus architecture or take note of a nearby business area. Let your mind wander and allow your senses to absorb everything.

2. Look through your notes. If you are a particularly good note taker, then topical ideas might be found in something you wrote last week, last semester, or when you first started college. Don’t search too hard, but read page after page until something comes to mind.

3. Take a well known story and turn it on its head. Everyone is commenting about the blizzard, but how do you see it? For example, does the hush of snow stir up a forgotten memory? What sort of interaction is there between light and moisture? Everyone else may be looking at the big picture, but there may be a micro story you can pull out from the big one to come up with a fresh idea.

4. Re-purpose a story. Tread carefully here: even taking your own writing and rewriting it can be construed as plagiarism. Instead, take one of your older stories and update it. Or change the characters, the plot, your conclusion. In other words, use your first story as a springboard for your next one.

5. Read news releases. There isn’t much that I can add to this other than to say that press releases can sometimes provide a good story idea.

6. Read your calendar. You do have a calendar on your dorm room wall, right? Inspect it closely. Look at the holidays coming up. Lots of minor holidays or events are listed. If one piques your interest then find out its origins and significance today. Earth Day falls on April 22…why is that?

7. Observe people. Sit on a park bench or gaze across the campus to watch how people interact. There is a story in there somewhere.

8. Flip through periodicals. Newspapers and magazines offer excellent subject ideas. If your area of interest is culture, find magazines and sections of newspapers about that topic.

9. Meet new people. Attend a party, take in a sporting contest, visit an art gallery, listen to a lecture. Converse with people you meet. Ask their thoughts about the game, talk, artwork, whatever.

10. Head over to Twitter. Yes, social media/networking can help you learn what people are talking about. On Twitter, check the trending topics. If you can narrow it down to your geographic area, that makes things easier. Think how one of those trends can be fleshed out to become a full story.

11. Reflect on life. You’re in college now, but step back in time to when you were in middle school or high school and thinking about life. How did the 14 year old “you” perceive a particular subject? If that is far different from how you think today, then write from your younger perspective or how you grew into the new “you.”

12. Create a list. Just as you are reading a list right now, come up with your own list of things. Write down your favorite foods. Vacation spots. Global concerns. Relationships. You name it.

13. Interview someone. Call up an expert in your field of interest and interview him or her. Use that interview to help you develop your subject, referencing your first hand source as needed.

14. Contact an old friend. Is there someone from your high school years you haven’t spoken to in a long while? If so, contact this person and shoot the breeze. Ask her how she is doing, what her plans are for the future, and what her greatest fears and challenges may be. You won’t be writing directly about your friend but your conversation may provide much needed stimulation.

15. Leave your comfort zone. It is easy to write about what you already know, but why not write about what you don’t know? More importantly, consider writing about something you want to know more about. You’ve always wanted to travel to Greece, see how chocolate is made, or find out how detectives investigate a crime. Instead of waiting for that day to happen, make it happen now.

Getting Going

I can think of many more ideas for generating story ideas, but these 15 are a good start. You may need to only try one to find your writing spark or you may need to try three of four. In any case your next creative writing idea awaits. You just need to step out and find it!

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Categories: Study Tips