Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

One of the questions I get asked often is 'where do you get your ideas?' and to be honest it's one of the hardest questions to answer. Ideas are easy to come by, they pop in when I'm least expecting them and can surprise me sometimes, they're the easiest bit of writing - but know where they come from is a whole other thing.

Ideas Can Come From Anywhere

News - When a report on the TV tells of a man being stabbed after an argument, or a woman being attacked in the dead of night I wonder what happened and my writer brain goes into overdrive. From one report I can have 5 or 6 new ideas.


TV Shows - I can be inspired by serial killer shows, one of my favourites is Dexter, or just a show with a mystery, nothing to do with death. It's a bit of a knife edge when you're inspired by shows though, you don't want to copy the idea they came up with but your own has legs.

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.

Neil Gaiman

Washing the dishes - Most of my ideas come to me when I'm doing something mundane. My mind wanders, I glance to the side of the sink and spy a knife and my writer mind goes 'aha!' and spins a tale. Or I'll be changing the bedding wishing I could just hide away from the cleaning and BAM! Another idea.

Ideas can trickle in, little snippets or images come together to form a whole story. They can hit me like freight train - BOOM! Or they just pop into my head, sitting there nagging me until I put them down on paper.

Ideas are Easy

Some writers say an idea needs to be interesting, it needs to have appeal in some why but I think it's not necessarily the idea that has to be interesting. For example my short story Where To Hide came from the idea of standing in front of the kitchen sink and hearing a boom. The story naturally grew from there. There's nothing very interesting about standing in front of the kitchen sink - but what the boom was, where it came from, and who caused it, can inspire a whole range of new ideas. Even now as I write I'm hit with new ideas from that same start.


I don't know where the ideas come from. I make them up, like Neil Gaiman says "Out of my head." Whether it's imagination, creative brain, or something inherent, I don't know but I'm going to utilise it as much as possible. 

Writing is Hard

So yes, it's easy coming up with ideas - it's probably the easiest part of writing. It's the next bit that's difficult.

Creating characters.
A storyline.
A believable plot. 
Writing word after word...

...wishing I could just hide away from the cleaning and BAM! Another idea.

That's the hard bit.

Staring at a blank page is the scariest part of my day. Wondering whether the inspiration will come to write word after word, wondering if the storyline will be coherent, hoping beyond hope that that page doesn't stay blank. 

And then there's tidying up a first draft - oh boy! This is the stage I'm at now and it's terrifying but exciting at the same time. I get to work on my writing and improve it, change it around and make the plot lines work better. 

Ideas come easily, it's the writing that's the hard bit.

Do you ever get ideas for stories?

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