When I tell people that I am a writer, or they see something that I have written, a common follow up questions is “Where do you get your ideas?”
I’ve seen other authors struggle with this question and many of them share a similar answer to mine: I’m not really sure. To me, they are like little gifts that present themselves in the strangest places. I’ve heard J.K. Rowling got her idea for Harry Potter when she was sitting on a train or something like that. I don’t think authors generally sit down in their thinking chairs, don their thinking caps and then floor the gas pedals on their brains. For me, most often ideas are triggered my small, common place events that light a little fire in my brain.
For example, for a few months, I rode public transportation, train and light rail, to commute to work. I would often get sparks of ideas from watching the other passengers and wondering about their lives and personalities. I once saw a mother with a blind son who both walked around with long white canes tapping on the street. They looked so happy together and that got the gears turning and eventually resulted in a poem.
Another day, a strange looking man on a train became the inspiration for a short story that I recently published in a short story magazine. (You can read “Subway Survey” until April at http://www.allegoryezine.com/mainpage.htm#subwaysurvey)
For “The Canticle Kingdom”, the idea came suddenly while I was working on the sales floor at Super Target in Orem, UT. I was just straightening shelves and letting my mind wander. I might have working in toys or something similar, but whatever it was, the idea of people living in a music box who needed people from the outside world just popped into my head. I can’t really explain it, but if this sort of thing happens to you, my only advice is just to act on it. Write it down and save it for later. I keep a rather long list of ideas I would like to develop some day. They may only be raw material now, but I know that if I had not preserved them, I might be missing out on something that has great potential.
To sum it up, ideas are not something that can be forced. You usually find them when you are not looking for them, and when you do stumble on one, be sure to preserve it.
What are your thoughts? How do you get your ideas? Be sure to become a follower and leave a comment for a chance to win a free signed copy of “The Canticle Kingdom” on the release date.