Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Where do I get my ideas?

This question comes at a steady pace from all those interested in the writing process. The response, even if in a half-joking manner, wonders if my life is the source of the sixteen-plus books I've written. As time wears on, I answer less adamantly. There is no right or wrong answer.

However, my quick negative was there to dismiss any speculation that I was throwing my "love life" onto manuscript pages. That my strengths and weaknesses hidden between the lines of the pages were some sort of literary therapy for public consumption. That these books were my not-so secret fantasies for a variety of needs. Here's the thing, I'm not an exhibitionist.

Nine years later, I'm steadily working in my career, creating new stories, and conducting research on a long list of items that will hopefully be part of future books. In this reflective moment, I will attempt to answer the burning question.

The source of these ideas do come from me. No, it's not bits of pieces of my life being confessed. However, it's very much my impact on life and people around me.

I made the annual pilgrimage to Romance Writers of America's conference in New York. From my hotel room on the 43rd floor, I would look down on Times Square on various times of the day where the area constantly teamed with people, vehicles, even sounds and smells colliding, and shops and lights that rattled the senses awake.

After NYC, I headed to Barbados. From the airport security check process, to hoping that the plane's issues would be resolved for the flight, to a scalding cup of coffee being spilled down my leg -- these nuggets provided more than enough "meat" for a story.

Soon my vacation will end, my (writing, energy, passion) reservoir has been refilled and enriched for the long hours of writing ahead of me. My activities included tours, swimming, brisk morning walks, visiting friends, and enjoying fine dining. I even managed to get much needed reading in with two James Patterson's, one Lee Child, two Amanda Hocking's--all very enjoyable and a reminder of why I must keep doing what I do. I have chatted with locals, visitors from Ireland, other U.S. travelers sharing concerns on world topics, specific interests, personal accomplishments. As diverse as we all are, we have so many similarities that connect us.

Television, Internet, newspapers all kept me informed on the big news, entertainment craziness, and the latest social media must-see. I soaked everything in, freeing the imagination to play, throwing out what ifs for the creative process to do its thing.

So, where do I get my ideas?

From me and my world.


  1. So true, Michelle! I saw this link on FB (I think) ( about a writer who is getting out of her current contract to go back to teaching. One of the reasons she cites in the interview is that it helps refill the well so that she CAN write. And that writing full time leads to lots of books about writers because that's what the authors know about. LOL.

  2. Yes! It all goes into the well, and waters the murk to keep it flowing.

  3. I agree. Living a full, active life provides more ideas than I could ever possibly hope to chase down in my books. I loved the advice that Tess Gerritsen gave to young writers at RWA--she said if you're in your twenties and writing, live life. Get some experience under your belt. Only by experiencing life can we then interpret and echo its truth and honesty in our own projects. If you're observant, the world is your teacher. Great post, Michelle. Fun to think about. ;0)