Where Do Ideas Come From?

I've been doing some interviews (I'll have links soon–like tomorrow soon)for the release of Emma Jean, and one of the things that comes up is how I got the idea for the novel.  I always have to stop and think about this because there's not one clear light bulb moment.  It was more like an aggregation of ideas that reached critical mass.  And then, voila, Emma Jean burst upon the scene.

Ideas are mysterious.

And to me, they involve a process.  This + this + this + this = THIS.  And then there you are, writing a novel. Or a story. Or an essay.

But to get to THIS you have to be mindful. 



An observer.

Because if you're not, you might miss one of the thises.

Ideas are like money, they come when you already have some and aren't worrying about them.  Thus the best way to get more ideas is to have ideas in the first place.  Yet another one of the wonderful paradoxes of the writer's life.

But there are ways to encourage the getting of ideas to start with, and I list them here:

Ask questions.  When you see that guy walking down the street wearing a skirt (this is actually not the most unusual of sights in my town) ask yourself, why?  Did he just break up with his girl friend and is trying to embarrass her?  Or make himself feel worse?  Does he come from a long line of skirt-wearing men?  All the "W" questions are good for this.

Daydream.  Stuck at a traffic light?  Make up a story about something you see.  Waiting at the doctor's office?  Look at your fellow patients and begin to wonder about their lives.

Write ideas down.  Ideas respond to coddling.  Maybe you have the nudge of an idea but it's not in the least fully formed.  Write it down anyway. 

Keep an ideas journal.  I throw all my various ideas into one journal where they breed, I swear it.

Brainstorm.  This is helpful when you have a specific idea you need (as for a scene or chapter). Get crazy on the page.  Set a timer and write down things as fast as they come to you.

That's it.  That's all I got for now.  Because, as I mentioned earlier, ideas are mysterious and nobody really truly knows from whence they come.

Do you know where your ideas come from?  How do you coddle them?

**Next Tuesday is the release of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior!  Join me for the release party, just fill out the form here to get the info.  (I'm just collecting your email to make it easier to get you the information–no spam from these hands.)

Photo by float.


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