by Ashley Franklin

Hello there, writing friends! We’re at the start of a new year, so you know what that means: now is the time to tackle those writing goals with all the optimism you can muster.

Not feeling very inspired? It happens to the best of us. Don’t have a lot of time to commit to writing and need to be able to write on command? Well, that probably applies to many of us. What can you do? Stop waiting for inspiration to come to you and go get it.

Whenever I need to generate ideas, I rely on feelings. No, this doesn’t mean that I only write when I’m feeling good. It doesn’t even mean that I write sad characters when I’m feeling sad. I consider the wide range of feelings and emotions that are out there and pair them with different scenarios.

Want to give it a try? Here’s what you do:

STEP 1: Write down a list of emotions.

(Hack: Google a list instead. There are tons.)

(Fun Hack: I put these in a box and pull one at random.)

STEP 2:  Pick a scenario. (You can come up with as many as you like, but I’ll offer a few to get you started.)

  • A day at the amusement park
  • Learning a new sport
  • First day of _____________
  • New kid at _____________
  • Finding something new
  • Playing an instrument

STEP 3: Pair an emotion with the scenario from Step 2.

Example: Disgusted + A day at the amusement park

STEP 4: Get brainstorming! What could happen during a day at the amusement park that would make a character feel disgusted?

STEP 5: Write down your answer(s) to Step 4.

STEP 6: Repeat.

(Hack: Use the same scenario but pick a different emotion.)

(Fun Hack: Pick two feelings that the character must wrestle with.)

Simple, right? This works best if you don’t do it from your adult perspective. Turn on your childlike wonder and maybe even project how kid you would respond in these scenarios.

Why do I use this as one of my brainstorming techniques? I like to read and write books that have a large emotional pull. For me, it’s easier to already know what type of feeling I want the characters to explore from the very beginning because that will determine the choices that they make. If the character starts off with one emotion, I then think of what type of event must occur to cause a shift away from the original feeling.

Good luck as you try this out for yourself. You may find that once you brainstorm with feelings, it’s easier to get out of a writing slump and move toward completing your writing goals.

Ashley Franklin is the author of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE (2019), “Creative Fixes” from the anthology ONCE UPON AN EID (2020), “Situationally Broke” from the anthology WHAT WE DIDN’T EXPECT (2020), BETTER TOGETHER, CINDERELLA (2021) and more. Ashley received her master’s degree in English literature from the University of Delaware. She is an adjunct college instructor, freelance writer, and proud mom. Ashley currently resides in Arkansas with her family.  

Ashley is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Visit Ashley’s at, on Twitter @differentashley, Facebook at Ashley Franklin, or Instagram @ashleyfranklinwrites.

Ashley is giving away a non-rhyming picture book critique.

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