Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mushroom Ideas

"Where do you get your ideas?" This is surely the question most writers hear the most. At least this writer does. How do you think up stuff? How did you think up this particular stuff? Those are all good questions and ones that are not always easy to answer.

I've written a lot of books. Some of them have been published, and some of you have been nice enough to read my stories. And that's because you thought I came up with some interesting characters doing interesting things. Good ideas.

What is the beginning of a story? Is it an idea? Is that idea a situation or a person or maybe even a place? I've  launched into stories from all those beginnings. I'm at a beginning again. But not really a blank beginning. I know who I'm going to write about. I know the time period I'm going to write about. I know at least one of the places I'm going to set my people down in. But I still need more ideas. I need ideas to pop up like mushrooms.

And maybe that's as good an answer as any to that question "Where do you get your ideas?"  They pop up on that rich decaying matter in your brain. Decaying sounds bad, doesn't it? But that's what mushrooms like. Along with moisture. In some ways everything we store away in our heads - if not decaying - is percolating and getting older each day. And all that "stuff" buries itself away there in our brains and then suddenly while you weren't really paying attention, a mushroom of an idea has appeared so suddenly that you are surprised. And a little amazed. Like these mushrooms in the picture above that popped up in my backyard last week. An idea can  grow overnight and keep growing or putting off spores that will grow another idea. And on and on.

Mushrooms are very remarkable plants. They have no roots, no stems and no leaves. They grow so fast that you almost feel as if you can see them growing. And that's what you want your story ideas to do. Grow and grow and sprout in unique and interesting ways. Mushrooms are really lovely when you look at them closely. Amazing bits of God's creation. And with a purpose. A way for nature to use up everything. Writers have to find a way to use up things too. Ideas let that happen.

And so to begin again. To appreciate the ideas popping up in my head. To know which mushroom is good to keep and which needs to be tossed.

Thanks for reading. A writer's journal can be mushroom thoughts with little anchor and that is the good thing about a journal. You can let your thoughts pop up in any direction. I hope your week will be filled with the sunshine of love and laughter.


  1. Ideas are like mushrooms. They lay around in your brain, rolling around with everything else and when the decay and environment are right, the pop their heads up for us to see. Nice post, Ann!

  2. I get some ideas when im sleeping and dreaming. Sadly i also act on those dreams while in my dreams. I think i need to sit down after this one,lol. Richard from Amish Stories.

  3. That was interesting, Ann. I never really thought about an idea as a "mushroom". And that's something to think about!

  4. Hi Ann. It is a surprise many times when these ideas pop up seemingly out of nowhere. A mushroom is a great analogy for them. We keep mulching and watering the soul of our brains with great reading, with storytelling in all its forms, with settings and scenery that inspire, with Scripture, and with the richness of human nature observed.

    Actually surprise isn't the best word. It's surprise wrapped in giddiness wrapped in wonder wrapped in gratitude.

  5. I like this comparison; it's so true! It is interesting to see where a sliver of an idea can come from and what it can mushroom into. :)

    Have a great week!


  6. Great comments, everyone. I like the perspectives you add to the mushroom idea. And I do agree with you, Lori, that ideas can pop up and surprise the writer.

    Richard, sounds like you might be a dangerous sleeper. Hope you don't dream about jumping off cliffs or anything. Think safe dreams!!

  7. I believe God is the Author of all creative thought and he gives me ideas in many ways - snippets of conversation, dreams, music, scenery, etc. He's so wonderful =-)

  8. Dana, sounds as if you have the right idea for the source of all good things including ideas.


Thanks for joining the conversation. I like hearing what you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.