The Secret to Generating New Ideas is Streetcombing

An e mail recently from Daring to Live Fully had me jumping up and down! Ok, not literally but you get the gist πŸ˜‰

The post talks about “Streetcombing” a system created/developed by Richard Stomp which is based on beach combing. Remember beach combing? You must have done that when you were a kid, hell, I still do it now! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, it’s aimed at the business world, but in my opinion, it works very well for us writers. But I’m afraid you will need to actually go out. That’s right, leave your desk! Yeah, I see ya, looking out of the window and shivering (well, thats you and me both here in the UK!). I wish I’d stumbled across this in the summer, sorry about that, but, if I’m game, I hope you are πŸ™‚

So once you’ve put your jumper on, got your brolley, get your camera and we’ll begin πŸ™‚

1. Go for a walk. Find an interesting street, preferably one with shops on.

2. Watch for anything that catches your eye. Have the mind of a child, be curious in everything.

3. Take photos of things you find interesting. Take lots of photos. Don’t ask yourself why you’re attracted to taking the photo of that old milk crate, not yet.

4. Go home, have a nice warm drink and upload your photos to your PC.

5. Look through the photos and ask yourself the following questions of each one:
What is the concept behind this photo?
Why did I take it?
What makes it interesting?

6. Take the concept you found and use it to start generating ideas, orrrrr for us writers, use the photo itself to generate a story/character idea.

If you’re not too sure what Mr Stomp means about concept, watch this video. It’s only 7 minutes long. I found the sound to be very quiet so you might have to max your volume.

Mr Stomp suggests you do this once a week, but I’m thinking once a month would be better for me πŸ™‚

Right at the end Mr Stomp says that the idea could be adapted into “Museumcombing” or “Supermarketcombing” etc. I’m just loving those ideas, the possibilities are endless!

So I will be Streetcombing at some stage when this rain stops (and after Nano lol) How about you? Fancy it?

22 thoughts on “The Secret to Generating New Ideas is Streetcombing

  1. I already do some of this. Whenever we go on vacation, I take pictures of the most seemingly random things, but I’ve gone back to those pics for inspiration. I’ve even printed a few for my wall. This last vacation, I took pics of places I thought future characters might sit and have a conversation. I hope you give it a try. It’s actually a lot of fun!


  2. When I was writing my first novel, I would often need a quick character for my main character to observe. Because I write in a coffee shop, there were ready-made character sitting all around me. I’d sit and watch them for a little while and create a character profile. πŸ™‚


  3. Interesting idea. Maybe we can do it with Google Streetview, though, to avoid leaving our desks 8^). I once used Streetview to revisit some areas I’d been in France and take pictures via screenshots.


  4. Vicki, for me the NYC subways are the best places to troll for treasures … a luncheon counter … a supermarket … any place where I can spy on human behavior and “steal” characterizations. I keep them, like a rare collection of coins, stashed in my brain, and when I need an unusual person or event, I dig into the treasure chest and pull one out … like a rabbit in the hat πŸ™‚ Loved this post … thanks.


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