Gathering Ideas for writing

How does an author gather ideas?

How does a poet gather ideas?

My answer:

We look and observe, capture a tiny detail, embroider it

look at it from a different angle, then surprise the reader and ourselves.

I use exercise books like this to keep all my ideas together:


I always write the date in, I jot down a thought, a sight, a little treasure of a word, or a sudden idea.

(or even the complete poem)

If I don’t write it down straight away it goes away never to return.

Here is a suggestion for you to begin your own ‘ideas’ book.

Try keeping an ideas book each day for a week.

  1. Just write down a conversation that was funny or unusual you were a part of or overheard.

Here’s an example:

While on a walk recently  I overheard these comments:

‘I bet a thousand dollars…’


‘It’ll make you dizzy.’


‘But then you would never…

These fragments could become part of a story, or a poem or lead to more ideas.

2.  Just write down a few words about what was happening in your world, even the weather.

3.  Even a quick sketch of your pet and a few words about what they like to do best.  Sketching and writing is a great idea.

For my latest collection of poetry ‘Guinea Pig town and other poems about animals’ Walker books, I was able to observe animals and then write from this.  Taking a photograph to look back later was great also.

Here are two photos of two animals.  Both were in London and both are the subjects of poems in my book.



If you are able to look in a copy of ‘Guinea Pig town and other Animal poems’ then look up:

‘A big bathroom’


Then you can see the finished poems.

What do you like to write about?  I’d love to hear from you.

Lorraine M

5 Responses so far

  1. 1

    Kaz Delaney said,

    I know you also write books Lorraine, but I felt privileged to enter your world as a poet.

    As an author of more edgy stuff as much YA requires, I felt a lightness and gentleness in even just looking at the photos you presented. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think poets have a slightly different perspective and when entering their worlds, I find myself soothed by that.

    I agree though that no matter what genre or type of written work we pursue, that ideas are everywhere. For me, it might just be a teenage girl in a crowded food court at Christmas (who ended up a character in a story) or a snatched conversation overheard while sipping a coffee at Macdonalds… (Hmmnn – a lot of food references here!!! 🙂 )

    I’ve always carried notebooks with me – I think every author does – but I’ve never journalled them daily as you do. I might try that.

    And I couldn’t help but think that those exercise books are going to be very valuable to future generations! There’ll be a wealth of information!

    Congratulations for being STAR author for October. It’s my birthday month and one of my favourite months – mostly because it heralds the return of warm weather! Yay!


    I’ll be looking up your Guinea Pig Town book. and thank you for your insights.

    Cheers, Kaz.

    • 2

      starauthor said,

      Kaz, so wonderful to hear about your notebooks too and I love that reference that you are soothed by poets words! And by the way what a wonderful month to have a birthday- Happy day- I thin it is today!

  2. 4

    Rebecca said,

    Hello I love writing life stories and seconds and thirds and fourths of books which I would love to have a second book or a series so I can Find Out What Happens Next.

    • 5

      starauthor said,

      Rebecca, I am thrilled that you love writing life stories, I hope that my jottings help you in that- and I agree a series is a wonderful continuous window on characters and a world you love.

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