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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6 Responses to Where Do Ideas Come From?

  1. J.D. 02/08/2013 at 04:30 #

    Wow, do I so agree with these! Especially, if even a dog of an idea comes up and bites you on the ass in the middle of the night, you better get up and write a description even if his name is Fido. Your muse does not like to be disrespected. He will take away that memory, or worse yet dry up the well it came from.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 02/08/2013 at 07:54 #

    I can't tell you how many times I've had an idea that I thought I would remember without writing it down and then its gone.  When I'm out walking, I make notes on my phone.  It's just so important to, as you say, respect the muse, J.D.

  3. Don 02/08/2013 at 08:23 #

    Great points Charlotte. I can especially identify with the one on writing ideas down when ever they come to you. After all, you never know where the little buggers will come from. Be it in the shower, in the subway, on the way to work, or who knows?

    I don’t know how many times, when studying writing, I’ve been told to always, and I mean always, keep a bloody pen and note pad, or recorder, on my person. The Great God Himself only knows how many great ideas I’ve lost because I’ve failed to do just that.

    After all, it doesn’t matter how great an idea is if you turn around and forget it, so write it down I say!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 02/08/2013 at 10:13 #

    Don, totally agree!  Just think of all those ideas circling around in the ether for lack of one of us writing them down!  I wonder if they then land in some other writer's lap?  Or if they just go to waste?  I'll have to ponder that.  And yes, ideas do seem to come in the strangest places!

  5. Zan Marie 02/08/2013 at 13:26 #

    Never stop asking question! That’s my motto when an idea hits. This is a great list, Charlotte!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 02/08/2013 at 13:27 #

    I love it Zan Marie! That's a great motto.

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