Here’s another post from my defunct writers blog,
and it is updated and edited with permission of me.
A successful writer is inevitably asked about the fountain of their dreams. Do you have your answer ready? No? Then let’s ask a Mount Rushmore of modern writing: “Where do you get your ideas…”
Stephen King: “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.”
JK Rowling: “I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out, it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.”
Nora Roberts: “I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration. It’s my job to sit down and figure out what to write.”
John Grisham: “I get the ideas, again, just by watching lawyers, watching courtroom dramas, and watching trends. When you watch lawyers the material is endless.”
JT Hume: Beats the hell out of me.
That’s not exactly true, but it feels like it sometimes. There are days when there is no inspiration. I once sat at the computer to write a blog post and felt empty. I cleared my mind and do what I do when the well is dry: I started typing and prayed. What you’re reading is the result.
For the bigger projects like books, here are my essential sources:
Random Imagination: It always starts there. As a child, adults said I’d rather be daydreaming than anything else. Well, why not? A fake dream world can be better than a horrid real world.
A-to-Z: Like Mr. King, I’m always intrigued by the “What If?” of a situation, and I will always take it to the end of the story. I am never satisfied with an open-ended story. I have to know how the tale ends.
Training: Many, many excellent authors achieved great success without taking a single college class or creative writing course. If that works for you, then stick with it. I’m an advocate for education and training, if only to find the eternal themes that work and continue to work for generations.
Exercise: All of my big ideas appeared while exercising. All of them.
Stubbornness: Once I get that idea, I don’t give up on it until there’s a bunch of chapters on the screen (see “A-to-Z” above).
The problem with lists is I always forget something, so you may see this post updated in the future. If you haven’t thought about the source of your ideas, now is as good a time as any. Who knows? There may be a New York Times interview in your future.