Today’s blog post is part of a Secret Subject Swap hosted by blogger Emily Morgan. This topic was sent to me by Jodi Gibson, who asked me to write about “ideas”. Based on that suggestion, I wrote a brief post about my creative writing ideas: where they come from, when they strike me, etc. Thanks for the topic, Jodi!

Where and when do my ideas strike me?

I can’t really pinpoint one main source for my writing ideas, as they seem to come from anywhere and everywhere. I can, however, list some of my favorites.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas (CC Image by hitzi1000 via Flickr)

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas
(CC Image by hitzi1000 via Flickr)

Sources of My Best Ideas

  1. Books
  2. Video Games
  3. Nature
  4. Art
  5. People

Many of my stories have blossomed from ideas that were taken from various books I’ve read and woven together in my mind. Most of my early writing, however, was based on the video games I played all the time, many of which became source material for fanfiction. Now as a biologist, I get plenty of good ideas from observing nature and the behavior of animals, and I’ve also found great inspiration in works of art like music, paintings and photography. But quite a few of my favorite pieces actually grew from ideas that struck me while observing the people close to me, especially my family.

So when exactly do these ideas come to me? Usually when I least expect them. As you can probably tell by the above list, they tend to strike me pretty much anywhere, at any time. But the best ones come while I’m enjoying the things I love most.

How do I get my ideas?

There’s no special routine I follow to inspire new ideas. In fact, sometimes I find that the harder I try to get a good idea, the less likely it is for one to come to me. So instead, I keep on doing whatever I enjoy, and allow the ideas to flow naturally during my “idle thinking”.

That being said, what seems to work especially well to stimulate new ideas for me is researching subjects I find interesting. For example, one of my ideas for a fantasy novel came to me while looking up mythological creatures, as I’ve always been fascinated by ancient and medieval mythology from around the world. Other ideas for science fiction have sparked from the Zoology and Genetics textbooks I used to study when I was in college working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Even now, I find myself thinking about fictional stories I could write based on the scientific papers I’m working on for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology journals. In short, I don’t really find ideas; they find me.

What do I do with my ideas after I get them?

This is the really exciting part: finding out where a new idea leads. Whenever I get an interesting idea for a story or poem, I make a note of it somewhere on my computer or in one of my notebooks for future reference. Most of them don’t actually go anywhere at first, but I hold on to them anyway in the hope that they’ll prove useful later on (some of them still haven’t). Others start growing into new pieces right away, and in the case of flash fiction and short poems, they can turn into full pieces almost immediately (e.g. “One Mistake“, which was literally finished less than ten minutes after the idea came to me)!

But some of my favorite and most exciting ideas are the ones I get for novels. These I treat with the utmost care, keeping them safe in the back of my mind (as well as a written note, so they won’t be forgotten) and leaving them free to grow in my imagination while I carry on with the rest of my writing and other activities. These ideas are particularly special because they’re the ones that keep coming back, constantly reminding me that I have greater stories to tell, pushing me to release them from the confines of my mind and nurture them with words so they can someday roam free in the outside world as full-grown stories. It may be years before they actually become novels, but I’m sure that when they finally do, they’ll be the ones that were most worth the wait, having blossomed from the most valuable seeds of my imagination.

This has been a special topic post in Emily Morgan’s Secret Subject Swap. To learn more, just follow the button below to her site, and be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

Other bloggers in the Secret Subject Swap
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Jodi Gibson: JFGibson
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Josefa: Always Josefa
Rhianna: A Parenting Life
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Zanni: My Little Sunshine House

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