Where Do Ideas Come From?

Ideas. Ugh.

(Drops head on laptop’s keyboard, accidently hits the delete button and erases the 61,000 word WIP)

There is a lot of pressure to come up with story ideas. They can’t be just good. They have to be original. Exciting. Sellable. How does a writer do that? I struggled with that issue when I decided to take my writing seriously. How would I ever come up with novel ideas? (Get it? Novel ideas? Sigh, never mind.)

Luckily, early in my writing career, I was assured by those in the know, aka: experienced writers, the ideas would come. (Click here for that story) And what do you know, after that excellent piece of advice, my fear faded and the ideas started flowing. There were so many and they came when I least expected it, and was the least prepared. I bought a purse-sized notebook to go with the notes app on my phone, a composition notebook for my writing desk, and of course, I never hesitate to grab a napkin, receipt, or the wrapper from someone else’s burger. I actually considered wearing lipstick instead of flavored Eos so I would have an additional writing tool handy.

But the real question is, where do these ideas come from?

  1. Dreams – Now that I’m open to the fact that they will come, my dreams are filled with them. One night I dreamed about dreaming about dreaming about a story. Really.
  1. Work – I can’t sit in a café, people watch, and write anything worthwhile, but I am fortunate enough to work with my target audience. Kids. I teach martial arts with the majority of students between the ages of six and sixteen. And boy do they give me ideas. Listening and watching has sparked many ideas including a boy dealing with his mom’s illness and a girl with wild hair and a wild personality.
  1. Matchmaking – I don’t disregard anything or any place. I took a scene from the movie Thor: The Dark World with Loki slumped against the wall of his cell after the death of his mother. His clothes are ragged, he’s far from the diva he used to be. Somehow, my unpredictable, over-caffeinated mind matched this scene with the winding road I take to work every day. Just like that, a story formed.
  1. Write what you know – Writers hear that all the time. I explored my greatest interests and the most personal trials of my life to come up with my current YA novel. Wait! I just had another idea. No kidding. Please hold while I write it down.
  1. Writing prompts – Ah, the Internet. Our home away from home and biggest source of procrastination. Writing prompts can provide ideas and are also a good way to combat writer’s block. Prompts don’t always lead stories, but they always start my brain tingling.

Here are my two favorite sites: http://www.writing.com and http://writers-den.pantomimepony.co.uk

What are some ways you get ideas? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave them in the comments below.

Happy brainstorming!

IMG_2142 - Version 2A third degree black belt in taekwondo, HALLI GOMEZ teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults because those voices flow through her brain. She is published in Police Chief magazine and her regional SCBWI bulletin, and enjoys family, outdoors, reading, and is addicted to superhero movies. You can find her on Twitter.