[This blog was originally posted on the nrwick.com blog. It has been reposted since that blog no longer exists.]
Tonight I want to talk about ideas and inspiration. I often notice people asking where others get their ideas or where to draw inspiration from and thought it would be fun to write a small blog post about this topic. I have very little trouble coming up with ideas for stories. But this is also my downfall because I have a hard time focusing on just one idea. Coming up with the idea is usually my favorite part too. I tend to develop the thorough idea and then get stuck at the fleshing it out with thousands of details.
So, where do I get ideas from? I get my ideas from everywhere and anywhere, but many times I get them from dreams. It sounds weird, but I have pretty vivid dreams and they provide some excellent story premises. I’ve never used a whole dream for an entire story because, frankly, my dreams often make little sense. But, I will take a piece of the dream and use it as an idea for a story (or illustration). For example, one of the novels I am working on came from a scene in one of my dreams. In the dream, I girl was hiding in a secret passage in the walls of her friend’s home. There were people coming to imprison and kill magic users. The friend who’s home the girl was hiding betrayed her and lead the people to her. That image was so strong to me and it prompted my entire three book novel series.
Another place I most often get ideas from are concepts, phrases, or other random snippets. What does this mean, exactly? Well, it basically means that when something catches my attention, I will think of a way to make a story out of it. For example, there was a music video I saw once (can’t for the life of me remember what it was or who it was by) where the people in the video had timers above their heads counting down to basically show when they were going to die. This idea intrigued me to no end and I thought of an idea about keepers of hourglasses which represented how much time is left in a human’s life. If the hour glass breaks before the sand is gone, the human dies prematurely…. and if one of the guardians happen to grow compassionate for a human and continued to turn the hourglass, then it extends the human’s life indefinitely.
I’ve also gotten ideas from song lyrics. I wrote a short fantasy story based on the lyrics of a song by Phil Collins (haha, go ahead and giggle. I know I do). Or I made a character based on a snippet of song lyrics “I keep a gun in the book you gave me, hallelujah lock and load.” The character turned into a man disguising himself as a priest in a zombie book I was previously writing. The idea of someone being desperate enough to not only fake being a priest, but also hide weapons in holy books or chests was so interesting to me. The littlest thing can make me go “Hmm, that would be interesting to explore” and think that is important. I write because I am interested in exploring different things, not because I want other people to love me or what I write. (Though, I would love for people to love what I write!)
Some things to do in order to help jump start inspiration: listen to music, read a book, watch a good movie, look at some beautiful artwork, free write, play the question game with someone, rewrite an old tale in a unique and different way, sit somewhere public and watch people interact with one another, draw something and write a story about it… The list goes on.
What helps you come up with your ideas?