Wordplay Wednesday: Finding Ideas on a Bookshelf


This week I am offering a new suggestion for discovering story ideas. I landed on this new source at the writing retreat I attended two Saturdays ago. This one came, as great notions often do, by serendipity and a wee bit of wool gathering.

Startup Stock Photos

We spent a productive morning writing in response to prompts and sharing around the table. After a lovely lunch filled with great conversation, laughter and a bit of poetry, we were given an hour or so to spend by ourselves to write, plan, collage or think. There were some suggested exercises, articles and poetry in our retreat packet to read for inspiration, but we were free to spend the time in any way we chose.


While some folks took walks or moved to other areas of our retreat space, I stayed at the table and worked with a couple of the exercises. I have an idea for an article or essay that I have been wrestling with for quite a while. I did some free-writing that helped me clarify some points and that also raised other questions.  Then I took the same theme and created a word map. After 45 minutes my brain needed a break so I made myself a cup of tea and grabbed some dark chocolate from the snack table. I sat and let my mind wander a bit as I gazed around the studio.


For a book-lover like me it was a paradise: Two entire walls, from floor to ceiling, were covered in large, crammed bookcases.  I had noticed them earlier of course. I always enjoy perusing other people’s book collections to  compare reading tastes.  The morning had been so busy I had not much opportunity to take particular notice of titles. Now I took a good long look at the shelves.

I recognized many favorites and also quite a few I did not know. Soon the unfamiliar titles had my imagination brimming with possible stories. I turned to a clean page in my writing notebook and began jotting down interesting titles to use as possible story ideas. Soon I had filled an entire page.  There are some intriguing possibilities lurking on that piece of paper.


My challenge to myself and to you is to find a new writing idea by simply scanning book titles at your local library, bookstore or perhaps a friend’s bookshelf.

Below are a few of the titles I wrote down:

Untethered Soul

Carnival Evening


The Watcher

 We Are Taking Only What We Need

Random Acts of Love

Infinite Possibilities

Unlikely Pilgrimage

Try one of these titles as an idea for a poem, essay, character sketch or story.

I would love to read what you come up with.

Also, if you find any great titles, send them my way!

Happy Writing!