How to prevent your well from running dry

And keep new and fresh ideas bubbling to the surface.

So many times, more than I like to admit, my well of ideas dries up like a desert. But, then when I least expect it, BLAM, a new one hits me upside the head.Jean Cogdell Bitmoji image hit with rake in head

For instance, at dinner the other night a friend shared how much her grandson loved my book, A Reluctant Little Prince. She explained which character he loved the most and why. As I lay in bed that night, savoring her wonderful compliments, BAM, a new children’s book clobbered me.

But we can’t always wait for divine inspiration. There are way too many dry spells in between.

Neil Gaiman quote about writing your story

So, how do we keep the ideas flowing?

Thanks goes to Now Novel for a few terrific suggestions on how to keep the well of ideas overflowing…

Book ideas: 12 inspiring sources

Here’s the cliff note of what I learned…

  • Look to the Gods. Not praying and waiting, but check out various myths and superstitions are good fodder for a story. Have a favorite myth? Try rewriting it in the current day.
  • Historical events. Use for backstory. Rewrite events into your story.
  • Documentaries. Use a documentary to broaden your knowledge. Turn it into fiction by asking the “What if” question.
  • Journaling. Now I’m not good at keeping a daily journal, but I do keep an idea journal.
  • Central Idea section of Now Novel. Can’t wait to try this.
  • Search Archives. Historical and ancestry archives can be a treasure trove. Now Novel gives a couple of links to get us started. I can get lost in Ancestry stuff.
  • Inspiration from your favorite author. Again, ask “What if” and see how an idea can grow.
  • Find a new experience. Hmm, this one I’m going to think about a bit.
  • Short stories. Write or read a short story and try to develop it into a novel.
  • What if. We all know about this question. But try asking it about movies, as well as stories and see if a new idea comes.
  • Music. Not for me. I find music distracting instead of inspiring.
  • Creative constraints. This is used in short stories and flash fiction with word counts. But try writing about a character with constraints of some sort. Again, this one will take a bit of thinking for me.

Thumbs up Now that's a great ideaAs always, the article above gives us a lot more information about finding story ideas. I hope you’ll click on the link and read all about her 12 idea suggestions. Plus there are a few great links to check out.








Can a bad idea make a good story?

Of course! At least I think any idea can make a good story.

Because are there really any bad ideas? Or just bad execution?

We all have that one friend who when they start with, “Let me tell you…,” we cringe. Yet a different friend can call, and we can’t wait to hear the ending of “Let me tell you…” Because this person will leave us laughing or crying.

What’s the difference? One is dry as dust with the telling, and another is entertaining.

A few weeks ago I posted about fleshing out ideas. But I was assuming the idea was a good one.

But what if your idea doesn’t sound all that good to other people? What then? Do you throw it out and search for another subject?

No, not necessarily. Everything is in the delivery.

After reading How to Develop Any Idea Into a Great Story at Writers Digest, I began to understand more about why some of my story ideas seem to die on the vine. 

I need to feed them differently, shine light from a different angle, but rework the idea until it sizzles with energy.

Here are the things I gleaned from the article.

  • Bend it by-
    • Getting primal, give your character an inner yearning that drives him.
      • Now take that urge and bend it to an uncomfortable level.
    • Taking the familiar, turning it on its head, make a paradox. A lover of women who kills women
    • Have fun with a little crazy. Who is the crazy one?
  • Amp it with-
    • Emotions/feelings
    • Action
    • People
    • There are no minor characters. Make sure the story gives each character their due.
    • Inflict Pain. Add a truth teller, a flesh ripping, spine-tingling character.
    • Let your characters feel pain.
    • Remember blood is thicker than water. Family trumps all. Add conflict of kinship.
  • Drive it-
    • 0-60, hit the gas. Start with blood, guts, tears, fears, danger, broken lives and don’t slow down.
    • Let the normal dissolve and barrel like an out of control train toward disaster.
    • Make your victim complicit in her dilemma.
    • Give your protagonist an impossible choice.
  • Strip it-
    • Quality over quantity
    • Don’t tell the emotions, let the reader feel the emotion.
    • Use small, everyday things to bring the story to life.

What do you think? Can a bad idea really be turned into a good story?

Have you ever taken a bad idea and turned it around?

Do you have an idea that’s sitting on a back burner?

I’ve got a notebook full!

Need more tips to turn your idea around?

Keep reading – great articles below.

Leave me a comment – I love comments.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and

Please stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

How to turn an idea into a story (Free workbook) Tera Lynn Childs

How to Turn an Idea Into a Story – Luc Reid

How to brainstorm your story idea into a working concept – Veronica Sicoe

How to take your idea to story

Do you understand how to flesh out your ideas?

Not me, I’m still learning. Taking an idea and writing a full novel is not easy, not easy at all.


Writing sounds so easy when an idea burst into my mind like fireworks on the 4th of July. But, as they say, the devil’s in the details. And then I’m stumped.

Ever happen to you? Great idea but…

Reading books and articles help me. One of my favorite go-to bloggers is Janice Hardy over at Fiction University. She gives writers good step-by-step instructions to take an idea to finished story.

Another great resource is She Writes. This is a great source for tips on how to flesh out a scene. And isn’t that what makes up a chapter? Scenes?

What did I get from the articles below?

  • know what the scene is about
  • can I relate to my character’s emotions
  • write like no one will read it, go crazy
  • use images to invoke place and time
  • find the problem, find the stakes
  • ask if each scene moves the protagonist toward her goal
  • know what is important to the characters

Tell me – 

Do you have trouble launching your ideas?

Do you have a tip that would help me flesh out an idea?

Read these articles and share the tips helped you. I’d love to know.

I Have An Idea for a Novel! Now What? by Janice Hardy


Leave me a comment – I love comments.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and

Please stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

Do you need help with blogging ideas?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I try to think of a new blog, and like a dry well, I come up empty.well-145661_640

My brain can’t think of a damn thing y’all might want to know.

Does that ever happen to you?

I’ve got story ideas, but some days the blogging ideas just won’t come.


Well, if that’s the case, head over to See Jane Write and…

Let’s #bloglikecrazy!

She’ll give you a bunch of tips on keeping your blog fresh and current.

Need more? Keep reading!

Blog Post Ideas for Writers: Solving the “What Do I Blog About?” Conundrum by


101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas by Molly Greene

40 Blog Post Ideas For Novelists, Poets, And Creative Writers

Where do you find blogging ideas?

How do you write a blog post day after day?

I’d love to know!

Leave a comment or click the “write me” tab or look for me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.