Yesterday I took a writer’s mini-retreat. Unfortunately, it was a 5-hour visit to the ER with my daughter. She’s fine. I’m tired. But I did learn something yesterday (aside from the fact that all of the doctors at the ER seemed to be 16 years old).
As we left home, I grabbed the only new periodical I had in the house: the Smithsonian Magazine. We spent most of the day sitting in waiting rooms and exam rooms. I didn’t have access to Twitter, Facebook, and email, so I read the Smithsonian, cover-to-cover. Here’s the thing: as I read, writing ideas kept popping up. From one story, I got an idea for a character. In another, I found the seeds of a future Wednesday Writing Prompt. By the time we left the hospital, I’d read nearly the whole magazine and had a good dozen ideas to play with.
So here’s the challenge: Set aside an hour or two for this writing exercise. Choose a magazine and a place to read it—away from home. Bring a notebook and a pen. As you read, jot down any ideas that come to you, no matter how crazy they might be. Also record the questions you have. Try not to look up questions online—you can do that when you get back to the office. The point of this exercise is to train your brain to find and develop ideas.
And here’s my question for you: what magazine did you use? What magazines do you find work well for this kind of idea gathering?