Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Someone asked me this the other day. I didn't have a good answer then; I kinda shrugged and said, "Everywhere." I didn't know what to say, or even what he wanted me to say. I mean, where do people think writers get our ideas from? Dreams? God? "Inspiration"?

I think my answer was right though -- we do get ideas from everywhere, but not because there's something special about us. It's just how we choose to look at the world.

Like the other day, Natalie posted on Twitter that she had a freckle on the inside of her left eye. Then her and Jodi spent the next half hour discussing what sort of superpowers the freckle would give her, and how she might obtain access to them.*

I joined in and said my first thought was not superpowers but "alien egg." I expected them to be grossed out, especially Natalie as it was her eye, but she said, "Actually, I was thinking it might be an interesting story."

All those stories -- the various superpowers and the alien -- came from the same thing: a freckle. There was nothing special about the freckle that made it story-worthy. The story came from the way the three of us looked at it. It's because our brains were constantly asking, "How can I make a story out of that?"

I think all creative people look at the world this way, to some extent. Journalists look for news stories. Photographers look for pictures. Comedians look for jokes. Pastors look for object lessons. Bloggers look for posts. And genre writers look for magic and aliens.

So when I'm dry for story ideas, it's not because the ideas aren't there, it's because I haven't been looking for them. Ideas happen around me all the time, but if I've been converting them into blog posts or devotions for the kids, I won't see them.

I keep trying to come up with a good ending for this post, but all I can think of is that alien egg. How does the alien eat after it hatches? How does it reproduce? Maybe if I spend an hour on Wikipedia, something will come to me...

Meanwhile, where's the weirdest place you've gotten a story idea from?


* It sounds like I was eavesdropping, which I guess I was, technically. Then again Twitter let me. Nothing's private on the nets, right?

12 comments:

Matthew Delman said...

I don't know if you can call it "weird," per se, but I once got an idea when I saw a grouping of stone benches that looked like the beginnings of a pentagram when I was out on a walk with a friend of mine.

She looked at me like I had three heads when I told her why I suddenly stopped and had to write the idea down.

Susan Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Quinn said...

Ok, the alien egg grossed me out, but that's just me. But you are very right - the ideas come from everywhere, but only if you have your brain in motion, looking for them. Crazy fun, no?

I left a blogger award for you on my blog Ink Spells today. Keep up the great work that you do (in all areas)!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 10:15:

Anna said...

A funeral I went to a few months back; my best friend's mother had died, and I found the proceedings full of fodder...

Valerie Geary said...

New follower here... I have an idea for next time someone asks you where you get your ideas. Come up with some crazy muse/creature... For instance:
"Hey... Mr. Writer man, where do you get all your great ideas?"
"Well, I keep a six-headed dog-pig beast in my closet. She's my muse. I call her Francie. I just write down everything she tells me to." :)

Natalie Whipple said...

I think Everywhere was the right answer too. And I kind of hope you write about the alien in my eye, lol. It sure would explain A LOT about me.

Weirdest place I got an idea? Hmmm, mine usually come from pretty mundane things, but I'd have to say driving past a cemetery. As I drove, it was like the whole story was downloaded to my brain.

Adam Heine said...

Ha, these are awesome! I want to read all the stories that came from these ideas :-)

Susan, thanks for the blog award. I don't tend to keep blog awards here (it's not them, it's me; I feel like my blog is cluttered as it is!), but I always appreciate them. (I say 'always' as if I've gotten many; I've gotten them twice). Thank you!

Valerie, that is an awesome answer, and also a great story idea!

Adam Heine said...

Oh, and welcome to the blog, Valerie! I'm very glad to have you :-)

Bane of Anubis said...

Eck -- anything to do w/ eye aberrations has to be horror. Or maybe it's like Speaker For The Dead and it's the seed for a tree.

Adam Heine said...

Nice idea, Bane! I need to read that trilogy again. I've forgotten so much.

MattyDub said...

Obligatory PA Link:
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/4/26/
-M

Adam Heine said...

Nice, Matty :-)