Where Ideas Come From

Some authors don’t like to be asked where they get their ideas from. Not that it’s a big secret or anything. They just aren’t always sure. They can’t pin it down. The idea could have come from a number of little things that grow and mutate until they become this BIG IDEA. Or it could have come from a dream. The idea could have been sparked by a tv show or a news item. Or it could have just been formed in the deep recesses of their creative mind.

My ideas usually come from a specific moment when I’m smacked between the eyes with an idea that won’t let go. The more excited I get and impatient to write, the better I know it will be.

Secret of Undine came to me on a camping trip. My daughter asked why the water sparkled in the late afternoon sun and I told her it was the water faeries just under the surface. From there it was easy to come up with the story of these kids who meet trolls and water faeries in a place where they would least expect it: a campground.

The title, Wish You Weren’t, came to me on the way to Writer’s Day. As I drove to Thousand Oaks I jotted down the title and a one line summary. (You don’t want to be on the freeway near me when a story idea hits. Just sayin…) Once I started writing, the story changed. A LOT. (Can you say pantser?!) I got stalled. But my breakthrough in the middle came from reading a nonfiction book on the power of wishes. It helped me figure out what I wanted to say.

My current WIP came from a single line in a nonfiction book about a process used on…well, I’m not going to spill. But suffice it to say, a story was born, from truth into fiction. And I’m very impatient to write more.

What about you. Where do your ideas come from?

17 thoughts on “Where Ideas Come From

  1. What is it they say? Inspiration can strike anywhere? Yeah. My ideas have come from everywhere, song lyrics, dreams, quotes, random acts by my teenage siblings, there's even one I swear I totally blame on pregnancy hormones. šŸ™‚

  2. A story that sticks with me about inspiration is from Grace Coddington (creative director for Vogue US).

    She said her father always told her never to sleep while she was traveling, because you never know what you might see out the window that inspires you.

    I get a lot of ideas from things I see on my daily commute. I also steal a lot of names from signs and businesses I pass. šŸ˜‰

  3. The idea from my latest project came from a good friend. I told her she should write it herself, but she claims that would be impossible. I also get ideas from real-life experiences that I add a lot of fiction to.

  4. Oh man… Where DO my ideas come from? Some come from the news, from my own wishful thinking (What if X had happened in my life instead of Y?), from (emotionally) inspiring events in the lives of people I care about… All over! Also, some of my ideas come from my boyfriend, haha, who likes to contribute that way since he's not too good at contributing in any other way (worst. cheerleader. EVER.). He's got a really different set of interests and way of thinking than me, so it's great to have these ideas that, for me, would be out of left field. (Then I take them and make them MINE, muahahahaha!)

  5. hi miss sherrie! wow i was gonna do a post on ideas. maybe i still will cause mines a little more different. for me ideas get in my head from for real dreams and sitting there day dreaming like being in a fantasy world. its kinda fun and it gives me a cool story to write. i like how you shared out how your ideas got there.
    …smiles from lenny

  6. This probably sounds lame, but most of my writing ideas come to me WHEN I am actually writing….when I freewrite and just let my words fill the page, that's when I get my best ideas.


  7. Hmmm, now that I'm really thinking about it, I'm not sure. The first novel I ever wrote, I co-wrote with my mom (a retired teacher) and I can't recall where we got our initial idea!

    The novel I'm working on now evolved from a true story I learned pertaining to a certain location. The more I investigated it, the more my imagination took hold and my story was born.

    Great topic!

  8. I've done a few posts on this myself (over at my blog).

    A lot of the times, I get inspired by music videos. Sometimes, I'll get a character from them; sometimes a whole idea and plot.

    Pictures, movies, TV and situations that I find myself in — I draw a lot from my own experience.

    But definitely music videos more than anything.

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