One of the most difficult aspects of being a writer is coming up with new ideas for projects. I’m fascinated about where writers find ideas. I often reflect back with great enjoyment when I think about where I got some ideas that turned into chapters, articles or books. In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the author of Girl With The Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier, notes that when she saw the Vermeer painting in 1997 she just had to write about the girl peering out. Truman Capote came up with his book In Cold Blood from reading about the killings in The New York Times.
When we actually try to come up with new ideas, often nothing happens. That’s why I tell students: read (reading a daily newspaper is required for the course), write, see, travel, do. In short: experience as much as you can and be opportunistic about any good ideas that come to you.
Today, while I was teaching students about the rhetorical situation, an idea about a new writing project popped into my mind. I’ve taught now for more than twenty years and my students are now about the age of my son.
It is almost impossible to look into my classroom filled with so much youthful promise and not get inspired.
Nichola D. Gutgold is associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley and author of three books: Paving the Way for Madam President (2006); Seen and Heard: The Women of Television News (2008) and Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton ‘won’ in 2008 (2009).