Sunday, January 3, 2016

Where Do Ideas Really Come From?

There are many different methods to get and collect ideas. Every writer has their way of coming up with ideas, but where do these ideas come from? James Patterson says, "The more you know about, the more likely you are to combine things to make an idea that’s striking."

I found this to be a fascinating thought as many of my ideas come from my life as I have moved more times than my age. I have experienced many things for only being 40 years old. Yep, I just told you how old I am. However, my ideas don't only come from my experiences in life. I also talk to and ask questions of loved ones, family members, friends, etc.

For example, my first published short story was inspired by my dad's childhood. I took three different stories from his youth to write the short story "Flying Upside Down" for the former Fandangle Magazine (see below), which was later republished in Stories for Children Magazine.

Story ideas can come from other sources too like a writing prompt or a simple thought. The point is no one knows where ideas come from as they are all around us in many different forms. What a writer needs to understand and what I think James Patterson means is we need to view the world around us at all times. If we truly want to write then we need to keep the blinder off and expose ourselves to everything happening around us so we can let the great ideas truly find us.

Teresa M. Amabile, a creativity expert, argues that creativity is not a quality of a person. Rather, it is a quality of ideas, behaviors or products. I believe this is true and why it is important for us to walk around with our blinders off and our minds open to experience the wonders.

One of the best writing tips I have heard in a conference talk was directed at those who wanted to write picture books. I don't remember who the speaker was, but I do remember this one thought the speaker threw out to us. "When you sit down to write a picture book, get down on the floor like a small child and view the world from the ground up. Make sure to taste the paper and smell the pencil, too. Why? Becuase this is what a young child would do. Children (babies) experience life through touch, smell and taste. They also see and hear too."

Sometimes as writers (if you are not writing for young children) we forget the importance of our sense and the role they play in our lives and in our creativity. When I sit down to write I always keep what this speaker said in mind no matter what I'm writing  because it helps keep me self-aware. We should experience our lives the same way and be open to try something new, too.

It's also important to record your ideas and experiences. I use journals. Others use a crisp notebook, a Microsoft Word or Google Drive Document, or a 3x5 card file. In the course I'm taking by James Patterson, he uses a simple file folder. He says, "Having a dedicated place for your working ideas is crucial for collating and finding themes or plot lines to begin researching." I couldn't agree more.

Next week I'll share some of my Raw Ideas and I hope you'll share some of yours too.


  1. I get this question a lot during school visits. I tell them to use their senses and they will see ideas surround them. They only have to be open enough to see them.

  2. I get this question a lot during school visits. I tell them to use their senses and they will see ideas surround them. They only have to be open enough to see them.

  3. Another great share from you. You have great ideas. Thanks a lot!