Where do you get your ideas?
Not very often I might be engaged in a conversation with another human, and I might reveal the fact that I write stories. Mostly it won’t be an interesting topic for them and they’ll likely move on but sometimes I get asked, “What do you write about?” My tongue gets caught for a moment because, while I do have a lot of ideas, I have been writing romance for the past year and people react strange when I say this. I’m focused on romance currently because it’s easier to navigate through the story and less research goes into it compared to my fantasy and thriller ideas. Those take quite a bit more planning and may take years to complete.
The question that follows the first one is, “Where do you get your ideas?” or “How do you come up with these ideas?” It seems unnatural to people who don’t see a story in every feature of their day, and sometimes it surprises me. What do non-writers even think about? I don’t know anymore. The moment I made the commitment to become a storyteller, most of my spare thoughts are focused on my characters or plot.
By the time I brush my teeth in the morning I have three or four things to write down that I may or may not use in a story. By the time I drop my kid of to school, I’ve made about ten mental notes to explore with an idea.
My ideas come from everywhere, and everyone. I’ve always been observant about people and the way they are, fascinated by the things they do and what drives them. I don’t judge people based on anything whether it be race, religion, choices…and that’s a plus if you’re a writer because you can explore a character in a non-biased way. I don’t exactly copy anyone’s physical attributes or their demeanor but closely paying attention can help you shape your characters in a relatable way.
Story ideas are always brewing in my head. No process or major thinking goes into the core idea of a story. The hard work comes when the writing starts but plotting the story just happens and it can be triggered by anything. Any thought or action can bear fruit into an idea for a story. It’s how story telling works. If someone pisses you off write about them. If you feel an emotion deeply, use that also in your writing. Anything and everything is part of a story. I have this book that I literally label book idea #1, book idea #2 etc. I’m sure I won’t use all of it, but brainstorming for ideas and plots is one of the best things you can do to let your ideas run freely.