11 Facetious (And 1 Serious) Answers to the Question, “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”
Invariably a writer gets asked a question, in fact THE question:
“Where do you get your ideas?”
And as a teacher when I set my students a creative writing task there comes a glassy eyed look of vacancy that would give a vacuum cleaner a run for its money when it comes to sucking the will to live.
Let me count the ways. It’s too easy to be facetious and sarcastic but let’s travel down that well-worn trope for a while.
- I poo rainbows. When I wipe my bum, I have 2 or 3 ideas ready to go.
- The washing up. The subconscious works overtime when you get time to yourself, and you can pause for a bit.
- Your life story. Yes, I’ve been recording our conversations.
- Facebook. An open account is a gold mine for personality traits, character tics and questionable hygiene habits.
- I steal your dreams while you sleep.
- I have a unicorn scribe who records my every thought.
- I read the ideas left in the scraps of food left on trays in the food court. It’s like an augur divining the entrails of animals. Only greasier.
- I get my ideas from failed Academy Award nominees press conferences when they say, “It was an honour to be nominated.”
- I get fed my ideas from my best friend via carrier pigeon.
- I gather ideas from the broken clusters of dandelions as they float on the evening breeze.
- I collate Ideas from the comments section on YouTube, where the stupid lives.
But what is the person really asking? What is the heart and purpose of their question?
What they are asking is, “If I replace the empty toilet roll does that mean I get to eat the last doughnut?”
Sorry, wrong question.
The question being asked is, “Why can’t I be as creative as you?”
There is a core concept at the heart of the question: a desire to be creative yet they imagine themselves without the skills or knowledge to do so.
They are saying, “I really want to be creative but I don’t know how.”
The answer is simple. It’s one word: IMAGINATION.
It’s about exercising the ol’ grey matter and THINK.
For the non-creative person, the concept of using the imagination to develop ideas is like giving them a piece of Ikea furniture and a Phillips head screwdriver to assemble it. You’re better off asking them to stand naked in the middle of the road during a thunderstorm with a colander on their head for protection.
For a writer and the creative person, the imagination is the most important tool to use. But you need to know how to use it, to train it, to develop it and expand it.
Train your imagination. If you’re unsure how to do it, watch children play. They imagine all the time in their play, their drawings, their stories. Learn from them. Mimic their creativity, ingenuity and imagination.
On a side note, imagination gets minimised and sidelined during the school years in favour of logic and reason, when it should be expanded, developed and encouraged.
So how should we answer the question: “Where do you get your ideas?”
Remember, this is for posterity, so please, be honest. Tell me the truth.
It starts with my imagination, but that’s a wibbly-wobbley spongey-marshmallow answer.
My perspective sparks my imagination, the way I have of seeing the world. It shapes how I see people, events, incidents, and helps me understand that the individual stories of people are important.
In truth, I look for ideas. I search for them. I track them like ants at a picnic.
I find ideas in:
- books and poetry
- pictures and Images
- newspaper articles
- conversations with friends
- blog posts
- other writers’ opinions
- and from some of the facetious ideas I gave above
I get ideas because I actively pursue them.
I use my imagination to create scenarios and situations.
I ask “What if…?”
I ask “Why?” and “Why not?”
As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
That’s where I get my ideas.
And now I’m off to read the comments on youtube.