Where Do Ideas Come From?

Where do ideas come from? In an epiphany, a great moment of revelation, when the earth stands still and the sun suddenly begins revolving around us? Or while we are sitting quietly, meditating, focusing on that next best-seller, waiting for the inspiration to strike? What should we be doing to foster that creative part of us?

I watch a lot of cartoons (for the kids, you understand); and one of my favorites is Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, a show about a young boy Mac and his imaginary friend Bloo and all the trouble they get in together. In one particular episode, Mac wakes up to find he’s accidentally created another friend – a ‘special’ creature named Cheese. The running joke in the episode is the pairing of their names: Mac-and-Cheese and Bloo/Cheese. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but wonder if the writer was sitting home, eating dinner with his family, when the idea hit him. While we may never know, I believe this illustrates my point/my conclusion: it’s in the everyday moments that we find our ideas.

Where did I get the idea for my book, Stepmothers Anonymous? Watching a not-so-great movie with my kids about a not-so-nice stepmother.

Where did I get the ideas for some of my upcoming works? An old episode of Highway to Heaven, the evening news, a ‘what-if’ scenario on a romance story and a photograph, to name a few.

Sometimes there’s a story behind the idea – several years back, I ran over my stepson’s foot (not my finest moment as a mother), causing me to feel like the wickedest of all stepmothers. I later incorporated that into my book, using the event to catapult the title character into a life of fairy tale mischief.

Finding ideas to write about shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out process. You’ll find them in the simplest things, the unexpected moments, the slightest thoughts. That’s where they lie, dormant, waiting for us to give them voice. It may take time to recognize them, but when you do, grab the nearest pen and paper and jot them down. Then, develop them and see where they go – you might surprise yourself.

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