Writer’s workshop: How the author of the "Divergent" series finds inspiration

You might think that most writers come across their ideas simply out of the blue or maybe from a random dream—and sometimes they do. But for Veronica Roth, author of the bestselling Divergent series and other novels, the creative process involves more than simply waiting for inspiration to strike. In this video, Roth takes you through some brainstorming exercises and examples from her own work that can help you unearth your best ideas.

First, Roth describes the origin of the Divergent books, where society is divided up between five factions. Changing from one faction to another requires an initiation process that involves facing your worst fears. That initiation process was inspired by the similar, real-life concept of exposure therapy, which Roth learned about in a psychology class. She imagined a sci-fi version of exposure therapy, where you repeatedly confront your fears until they’re no longer scary, and that's what started the Divergent story.

In addition to the two creative fiction exercises you'll see in this video, here are four takeaways for writers that Roth suggests:

1. Try listening to music and letting your mind wander.

2. Find a way to keep track of the things you read, watch, listen to, and anything else that catches your attention. Roth uses a Pinterest board for this, but you can use a notebook or your phone.

3. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about the stuff that you like. Even "silly" things that other people don't necessarily respect can come into your work and be useful to you. As readers of the popular dystopian novels may remember, what makes you different, makes you dangerous—and that can end up being a surprisingly great thing!

4. Let go of the idea that you have to come up with something that's never been done. Instead, remember you have a perspective that’s unique and valuable, and that will inform whatever you're creating.

Finally, Roth reminds writers that, "It’s good to be curious, and it’s good to keep track of that curiosity." This sentiment is likely to feel familiar to Amazonians; after all, one of Amazon’s Leadership Principles is "Learn and Be Curious."

Virtual Kids Week activities are intended for children with involvement from a parent or guardian.