Wednesday, September 22, 2010


If you're a writer, chances are you've been asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" I'm sure you have a stock answer, be it amusing, humble, or straight to the point. The truth is, though, that we get our ideas from anywhere and everywhere. Our ideas might come from something as big as an earth-shattering event, or as small as simply watching an ant cross a patch of sidewalk. Ideas themselves are cheap; it's what we, as writers, do with them that makes them great.

The purpose behind this article isn't to instruct you on how to spin your ideas into gold, but rather to show you what I do to foster my own into workable stories. If this ends up helping you, great! If not, at least you'll get an inner look at my process. As I've said before on this blog, writers tend to be quite voyeuristic when it comes to seeing how others write, so this should satisfy that portion of the population that reads this.

I don't often write my ideas down. Sure, I have a notebook to jot down those tidbits I think have the best potential, but for the most part, I let the many ideas I come across simmer in my subconscious. I do this because when I'm in the market for a new idea, those that are freshest in my mind are the most exciting, so there's no need to open my notebook to find inspiration (though it is nice to know it's there as a safety net if I need it.)

Often times I'll use a writing prompt to get a story off the ground. Sometimes too many ideas can be just as paralyzing as not enough, so these are great ways to get the pen moving on the paper (or fingers on the keyboard if you write like that). I usually find that those ideas bubbling around in my subconscious will latch onto the prompt, strengthening the potential story exponentially. But more on that next week, when I talk about how I write my flash fiction stories.

To recap, ideas are a dime a dozen. If you simply walk down the street, you'll find plenty if you're paying any sort of attention. I personally find that I don't need to write down most of my ideas--if I forget one, there will be plenty more to take its place. If I really like an idea, however, I will write it down in a notebook for later perusal. Writing prompts are also a way I've found to get a story started so those ideas in my subconscious can take over. I hope you enjoyed my look at ideas, and check back next Wednesday for an article on writing flash fiction. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.