Where Do Ideas Come From?
A friend told me about a handy gadget for people like me, who get random thoughts at inconvenient times. It’s a waterproof notepad and pencil which can be mounted in the shower to jot down ideas or notes before they are washed away. (Since I often have ideas come to me while in the shower, I just might get one of these.)
This got me thinking about the various times and places that things pop into my head. For example, my other common – if inopportune – time for thoughts or reminders to occur is while I am sleeping. I keep a small notepad in my nightstand to jot them down so I can go back to sleep. (Otherwise, I would spend the rest of the night hoping I remember the thought.) And I have pads of sticky notes scattered all over, to capture notes and reminders in other locations.
Most of these notes, while they may be related to a story I am working on, are not original story ideas. People have asked me where my ideas for stories come from. The truth? Most of them are from dreams. Every few months, I have a dream which I realize would make a good story. This realization usually formulates in my subconscious while I am still sleeping. So now, in addition to the small notepad for quick notes, I also keep a larger journal for story ideas in my nightstand.
I used to wait hours or even days to write these ideas down. But then I lost too many of the details. As a result, I have learned to wake up right away and jot down the story idea in my journal while it is fresh in my mind. Often, as I am writing it down, I find myself expanding the idea beyond the original dream. The pages in the journal are about half the size of a standard sheet of paper, and I usually have several pages of notes for each idea.
The pages of the journal are also removable. I periodically take the pages out and put them into one of two similarly-sized binders. One binder contains ideas for historical romance stories, and the other binder contains ideas for contemporary or romantic suspense stories. These inexpensive binders are, to me, two of the most important items in my house. (Yes, there are things which are more important – but these are near the top of the list.)
They are important to me because they represent my future as a writer. A writer needs ideas to write about. And these binders reassure me that I will have plenty of stories to write for years to come.
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I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.