Another great reader letter:
Hey! I'm Amber from Killeen, and i love your books. I couldn't put your books down; I was completely intrigued with your writings. I was upset when i finished book three. I hate finishing good books. I am becoming a writer myself and was hoping you could shed some light on writing and what to do when at a loss for ideas. I write action and adventure books similar to yours, although I will write some Christian books as well.
I know you probably have hundreds of people emailing you but i hope you could help me. I would greatly appreciate it. AND are you writing an Alex Van Helsing Book Four? And are you making them into movies? PLEASE DO THAT-- IT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!!!!!!
It's great to hear from you. You know I used to live in Killeen, right? I was in middle school there.
I really hope to do more Alex Van Helsing books someday. My plan for them could have them go on forever. So you never know!
Amber, there are some great books I recommend-- as I've mentioned to a few others, I love the Writer's Digest books on plot, characters, etc. And I really recommend Stephen King's On Writing. Also, Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey is VERY useful, although it's aimed at screenwriters. I really love books on writing and read a lot of them.
There's no magic formula for coming up with an idea other than to allow yourself the peace with which to find an idea. You might get a great idea from immersing yourself in a general area, like watching a bunch of circus movies because you want to be inspired about a circus-situated idea.
But the main thing is to remove useless things from your mind. Get your notebook and go out to a park or library and turn off the internet, and let the ideas come without the easy offramp of distracting yourself with email, TV, whatever. Pick a general area and go deep into it until you unearth an idea.
Now, I know that sounds crazy! Jason said watch media-- but also don't? What? My point is: consume media to grow your art, not to distract yourself from it. Just as you should make friends who grow you as a person, not friends who pull you away from yourself.
Does this help?