In the Gospel of Matthew is the Parable of the Sower. A farmer goes out and sows the seeds for his future crops.
“Some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Chapter 13 Verses 5-8
If I may be so bold to appropriate the parable for another purpose, please follow me.
A frequently asked question of creative people, writers in particular, is “Where do you get your ideas from?” Each writer has their own response.
In truth, I don’t find it difficult to find ideas. I find them anywhere and everywhere.
What I do have difficulty with is knowing which ideas will grow and flourish. I carry around a notebook and pen wherever I go. Into it I record ideas, sentences, lines of poetry, fragments of thoughts, pictures. These are potential stories I want to write. These are my seeds.
Some ideas fall on the path. Some on the rocky ground. Some between the thorns and some fall on the good soil.
Will these two ideas grow? I don’t know. I often refer to ‘composting stories;’ leaving stories on the pile and see what sprouts. Sometimes an idea will need more fertiliser, or removal or pruning if it gets too unmanageable.
In terms of ideas that become good stories, the yield (thirty, sixty or a hundred fold) is in the reader and her/his connection to it.
Have ideas. Have many ideas. Have a notebook so full of ideas so you can give them to other people who need ideas.
But more importantly, plant seeds. To paraphrase (and appropriate) the Gospel of John (12:24), “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only seed. If it dies, it produces much seed.”
Tend the new shoots that come up; don’t leave your ideas neglected. Work on them; experiment with the idea, come back to it every so often and admire it.