Where do ideas come from?
This is something most writers get asked, as if we are wizards pulling fully actualized stories out of thin air. It’s something I’ve been pondering lately while seeking my next project and since I like to ponder on paper, I’ll ruminate here.
The beginnings of ideas have come to me in different ways; sometimes walking through an airport, or in the shower, and on more than one occasion in dreams. They can be a soundbite from a conversation I overhear, or a glimpse of something that strikes me as unusual. Sometimes they originate as a theme, like loneliness vs. freedom or something that I would like to learn about such as turtle racing or how Christmas lights are made.
The spark of curiosity can come from a number of sources, but for the fleeting thought to become an actual story idea, one must think. Surprise! that’s largely what brains are made for, so the mind loves a task. Piecing together a story is my mind’s dream job. When left unemployed for too long, self-destructive boredom, worry, intense relationship analysis, and myriad other neurosis will commandeer rendering me quite unhappy.
So I begrudgingly stop scrolling and texting, turn off the TV, convince myself I’ve had enough snacks, which is always debatable, and devote time to stoking what is not yet a fully engulfed idea—just a teeny glimmer. Sometimes they extinguish quickly and sometimes not, but regardless, I have to devote time to fan the flame. A thought becomes an idea, becomes a scene, becomes an act, becomes a screenplay, becomes an Academy Award. Started from the bottom now we’re here.
Possibilities are everywhere, summoning anyone with the patience to listen and spending time with this invitation to ignite is where ideas come from.
I don’t know why this became a fire analogy. Maybe I need to turn the heat up.