One question all writers seem to dread is … Where do you get your ideas?
I can hear the groans now, along with some smart-alecky answer that might go something like this …
- If I told you where I get my ideas, I’d have to kill you.
- I pluck them off the Idea Tree.
- Do you think I’m going to tell you where I get my ideas so you can go steal them?
- I pick up my ideas at Wal-Mart in the plastic receptacles aisle, bottom shelf on the right.
And so on.
And yet, it’s a perfectly reasonable question, don’t you think? Especially given that it’s usually asked by someone who admires the writer and seriously wants some insight into her creative process.
So … where DO you get your ideas?
For some reason, my best ideas hit me when I’m washing dishes. You’d think I’d wash dishes more often.
Some of our banditas have found inspiration while traveling in different countries or studying different eras.
Sometimes an idea might spring to life in the strangest moments, in an old bookstore, or staring at the ocean, or from handling an elegant, antique weapon or touching the lace on your grandmother’s wedding dress.
But if the ideas aren’t flowing, what do you do? Can you afford to wait for the muse to finish doing her nails? Can you jump on the next plane to Ireland? Or do you just start washing dishes?
Some writers believe in affirmations and I agree, they are often helpful and uplifting. I have a friend who repeats every morning, I am a fabulous writer with amazing ideas! It works for her. She is a fabulous writer and she does come up with amazing ideas.
Me? I find the words of Jack London comforting. He said that you can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
I must confess, I’m too old to sit around waiting for some recalcitrant muse to show up and spew forth brilliance. I believe in chasing ideas down with a club if I have to.
So naturally, I’m wondering. Writers, where do you get your ideas? (Come on, you knew it was coming!) And readers, is there one author out there who you’d love to ask that question of? I think I would choose Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her books are fabulous, heartwarming and so darn funny, and her characters and plots are delightful. They always leave me wondering … where did she get that idea?