My husband is in the medical field. Often when someone he’s just met finds this out, they describe a pain they’re having or an injury sustained in the past. He doesn’t really mind but I know that it happens more than it doesn’t.
The same is true when people find out I’m a writer. The biggest question they ask is “Where do you get your ideas?” I know I’m not the only one who gets this question—in fact it’s an inside joke with many writers I know.
Strong and innovative ideas are the foundation to good writing. But it’s still a tough question to answer. How do you explain how the things you’ve seen, heard, read, dreamt, and felt mix with your brain chemistry to be communicated through your unique voice?
It’s a mysterious alchemy to be sure. I don’t understand how it happens. Though I do know some of the circumstances that seem to bring it about.
I’m a big daydreamer. It’s not a problem for me to enter my own world and start the “What if?” game. In line at the store, riding on a train, or waiting for school pick up are great places for this. I seldom focus on TV commercials because when they start, I’m daydreaming. I find that driving alone on country roads has brought me some of my best revelations. Just not at night. That’s not so relaxing.
Traveling often sparks new ideas. Getting away from your regular routine stimulates the brain. So does meeting new people, learning something new, or reading a different type of book than you normally would choose.
I guess I get my ideas from living life—taking the familiar and turning it on its head, adding something new I’ve learned and whisking it together. And of course, writing itself spawns ideas—those things you just start writing in that moment and didn’t even know were there.
Writing it down brings all of those ideas to life. Putting yourself in the chair and writing is the only way to use all those great ideas.
All roads lead back to getting it on the page. Isn’t that always the way?