Where do you get your ideas?

“Where do you get your ideas?” the woman in the audience asked one of the writers on the panel of the Writer’s Conference.

“Oh, I have some fairy dust,” he responded. “I keep it in a gold box right next to my computer. I open its top and reach in with my index finger and thumb when I need an idea. I take out only a few particles because I want it to last as long as I can.”

A second writer, Marsha, a bestselling author from Texas, leaned forward and commented, “I used to use that stuff but I finally got rid of it. I’m here to tell you it was addicting.”

“You did?” a third writer, a Ph.d. candidate from the School of Hard Knocks, asked. “I sure wish you’d shared it with me. It would have saved me a lot of pain. My gosh, six months on that ship almost killed me.”

The woman in the audience, whose name happened to be Alice, smiled. “I want to be a writer. But I can’t seem to come up with an idea.”

Sam from the other side of the room stood up and addressed Alice. “I have ideas but I can’t write worth a toot. Maybe we can get together.”

The first writer, let’s call him Joe, laughed. “That’s how I ended up with my first divorce.”

Bestseller from Texas looked at him. “I thought you looked a little familiar. It’s been twenty years. The beard sure hides that s. o. b. face of yours.”

Joe was surprised. It was his first wife. He leaned forward, looked down the row of panelists and asked, “Marsha? Marsha.”

“You still with that little tart?” Marsha wanted to know.

“I caught her with a bestselling novelist. She was after his ideas too. It was a coitus interruptus. I shot the bastard before he could do a complete coitus and kicked her butt for three blocks. That was how I met my third wife. She was the arresting officer. Come to think of it. He was from Texas just like you. Anyway the judge said I had every right to do what I did and he let me off scot free.”

“It’s a big state. Guess that serves you right,” Marsha said. “Hope that cop keeps you in line.”

“She does. She’s the lady in uniform at the back.”

Everybody turned and saw this six-foot-three female cop standing at attention beside the door. She saluted the audience.

“You always did like uniforms,” Marsha said.

“And you never would play in one,” Joe said, then went back to the original question. “Where do we get our ideas, Alice? Life I guess. In fact, I just came up with an idea. Writer meets his ex at a writer’s conference.”

The female cop at the back of the room took out her handcuffs and headed toward the panel. “We’ll be having none of that,” she said.

Where do you get your ideas to write?

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2 thoughts on “Where do you get your ideas?

  1. A sprinkle of fairy dust would be helpful from time to time! My ideas usually start with a nugget of premise, then I build outward from there. I been inspired by documentaries, books I’ve read, people watching, listening to music. I’d like to know where your ideas come from.

    • It’s hard to say where some of my ideas come from. Three ways seem to work for me. The first is the obvious way. I get an idea for a short story or post. Then I start collecting information. Or making notes from my experience. The State Nicknames was that kind of blog, and the passwords post as well. The second is that I look at a picture or overhear a line from a conversation or use a prompt. I start asking questions. This blog was that kind of thing. Thirdly I get an opening line and it just won’t let go. Then I sit down and let my subconscious do the work.

      I think ideas are everywhere. But some ideas just won’t let go. Those are the ones I work on. But I will say that most of the ideas I use are the ones where I am not trying hard to come up with ideas. It’s when my subconscious is open to my surroundings. Then trusting that it knows what it’s doing. Ofen these will occur when I am doing something mundane like taking a shower, mowing the lawn, driving the car or watching a movie on tv.

      The important thing is that I respond to those ideas. The more you respond to an idea the more times you will know what to respond to. If you ignore that movement in your subconscious it might just stop. For me, that is the fear. I think that is what writers and artists mean when they talk about the Muse.
      If a person sits down and writes something everyday, pretty soon the subconscious is going to get the message.

      How many times have you heard a person say that they have a great idea for a story or a blog post? But they don’t write it. They want you to. If they would only trust themselves enough and do the work, then eventually they are going to have a pretty good piece of work. Maybe not publishable yet. But well worth putting their time and energy into it.

      All of this is a long way of saying: paying attention and trusting. At least, that is what works for me.

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