Friday, October 17, 2008

The Light Bulb

Time: Actually, I'm writing this Thursday night to post Friday, so it's 10:45pm
Dinner: In N Out..MMmmmmm, In N Out, that's what a hamburger's all about!
Music: Chet Atkins

Every writer gets asked the question, “Where do your ideas come from?” It’s expected, even if it’s not a question writers want to answer. Everyone gets ideas, right? It all depends on how you put them to paper, or IF you put them to paper.

What turns on the little light bulb over my head?

To be honest, I’ve had ideas that seem like the best in the world and either A) someone else came up with the basic idea first and probably executed it a hell of a lot better than I ever could, or B) the idea didn’t translate into a story once I sat down to write. In the long run, separating the good from the bad is the hard part. Knowing when something is working and when it’s not. Easier said than done, right?

I get ideas from everywhere. News stories (I have a folder where I keep articles I print or cut out), incidents that happen in my life, stories from friends, etc. They’re endless, but how many of those can I actually sit down and weave into a story people would want to read? Probably about 1%, and that’s being generous.

My current WIP, Lost and Found, came from watching an episode of Ellen one day, and then it bloomed into what it has manifested into from an episode of MTV’s True Life. I wasn't looking for story ideas or even thinking about writing (even though I probably should have been instead of sitting my butt in front of the television).

The weird moments are when ideas come out of the blue. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten an idea while shaving your legs…or how about washing your car? I have to admit; I’m raising my hand to the former, but would probably be the only one to do so (or maybe not?). How about right before you fall asleep? This seems to happen to me at least once a week and usually I’m conked out before I can do anything about it.

In the end, I guess writers just have to expect the unexpected, be prepared at all times for the light bulb to snap on. Carry around a pad of paper, a journal, heck, even a roll of toilet paper to jot down those ideas because you never know when one will pop up!

So, the dreaded question all the writers out there were hoping I wouldn't ask…where do your ideas come from?


The Compulsive Reader said...

Everywhere. Everything that happens in my own life is an idea.

Tracy Belsher said...

I agree - life is the inspiration - my life, someone else's life, a dream life, a sad life, past lives, long dead lives, gossipy lives, dead dull lives - they're all meat and potatoes upon which I add a trouncing of fictional gravy. Hey - vamps were people once, too. :)

Tess Sharpe said...

Never used toilet paper, but I do own a pair of jeans that an entire chapter was scribbled on. You can still see the ink marks, 5 years later.

Tami Klockau said... that's awesome Tess. I hope you mean you never use it to write! ;)

Anyway, yeah, I've never written on toilet paper but I always have a roll in my car...because you never know. If i had an idea and nothing else to write on, I guess it would be better than writing on my car! LOL