Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hunting Down that Idea Fairy

Where do you get your ideas? That's a question I'm often asked, especially when I talk to young people. It's a question most all writers are asked at one time or another. Here's an answer I stumbled across last week. I'm not familiar with Sarah Zette's writing, but I have to admire her sense of humor here where she's obviously answering the question about where she finds her ideas.

 My joking answer to this question is that I leave a bowl of milk out on the back porch every night for the Idea Fairy. In the morning, the milk is gone and there's a brand-new shiny idea by the bowl. ~Sarah Zette

I might have to try that bowl of milk on the back porch, but you know, I'm thinking around here, I'd just attract raccoons. Maybe a chocolate bar would work better. If I was an idea fairy, I'd fly in for the chocolate and fight off those raccoons. 

But all kidding aside, where do you get your ideas is a fair question. It's a question I sometimes ask myself when I'm starting down a new story road and looking for an idea. Where will the next idea come from? And will it be an idea that can fly? And to be totally truthful, it's a question I sometimes ask myself when I've come to the end of a story road and reread what I've written. I think where in the world did that come from? 

The imagination is an amazing thing. You mix it with all those memories and impressions that have buried themselves in your brain and out pop ideas. You might have a Eureka moment and say, "I've got it!!" 

So you have the initial idea and then you invite in characters to show up to make the idea become a story. If I can bring those characters to life in my imagination, then maybe, just maybe, they will show me what happens next when I get stuck on the story road. Because that beginning idea has to grow and expand and put out branches to bear the fruit of the story that the reader will harvest.

So the question about where do ideas come from is not an easy one to answer. Oh, I can say things like ideas come from all the things you've experienced and from all the experiences you've read in stories and newspapers. They come from things you've witnessed your friends and families experiencing. And sometimes, they come from out of the blue. You can't trace them to anything. 

Ideas can be like mosquitoes buzzing in your ears or butterflies floating by on a breeze. Sometimes they come like thunderclaps shaking your house or they might be a mere whisper in the wind. So many wonderful ways to have ideas awaken inside you. 

One of the best ways for me to feed the idea mill is by reading. That’s what I’m getting ready to do to help my new idea grow legs to be off and running. It’s while I’m researching that my ideas can deepen and grow. So I definitely can agree with the following quote. 

 A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life. ~Norman Cousins

So many of my stories owe much to the books I’ve found at libraries.

Have you ever wondered about where writers get ideas? Or if you are a writer, how would you answer that question?

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