Step 1. Open up.
It’s not that simple. Time and time again, both as a writer and professional, I have seen ideas brushed away, tossed aside, ignored. Like “Casey at the bat” the ideas presented were just not right. These ideas were lovingly, honestly, presented after a lot of hard thinking.
I do not know if the person rejecting the ideas had an agenda, wanted an idea that was a fully formed story, novel, or even a book series. Weather she wanted the idea to come with a muse attached ready to get down and write her a story, or what. I do know that in a profession setting where we were brain storming ideas that we would get two types; one type wanted things done his way or no way. He would constantly bring up reasons why ideas presented by others would not work, even though it was a ground rule that no one would say anything negative about other inputs or ideas in the session, and management would not let us throw the bum out. The other type was the budding manager that kept pushing off topic ideas, ideas that would get more people working under him which would get him a pay raise, a better parking space, a promotion.
Don’t be one or both of these. Except any and all ideas.
Before you ask for ideas;
a. Determine why you want an idea. Is it for a book, a short story, a series. Are you suffering from writers block. Have you written yourself into a corner and need a way out. Write down the reason you need an idea. Then open up to the fact that you may need several ideas. You need an idea for the story, an idea for the character, an idea for the world, and most importantly you need an idea for the villain.
b. Determine your restrictions on the idea. Figure out the box the idea must fit in. Does the idea have to fit in a happy story? Does the main character have to be female? Does the setting have to be on an island on a water covered planet? Does the villain always have to be a scientist form a desert planet that wants to drain the water from this planet and take it back to his planet?
Write any idea given to you down. When you ask someone or a group for ideas write the ideas down. It shows you value their input. Ask questions about the ideas they put forward. It show you care about the effort they are putting into trying to help you. (Even if the ideas are in right field). Give complements to those who are giving you ideas, even if you think the ideas are useless. Feed those giving you ideas. Cookies can generate ideas. Chocolate and creativity go together.
Go over the list of ideas that people gave you afterwards. Don’t blow any idea off. Make a two column list of the ideas. Draw a line from an idea in column A to an idea in column B. Write a couple of lines about a story that could be developed from the two ideas. Think “Pride Prejudice and Zombies.”
Remember out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom and pablum. You’re going to get some of both on you when looking for ideas.
Turn off your cell phone and look around you. The ideas are out there, they surround you. They may not feel right, but they are there. And the idea that feels the worst may be the best one.
Ideas are priceless, don’t waste them.
Stay strong, write on. Professor Hyram Voltage