This is topic When Inspiration Strikes...and Where, Too... in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I think I started something in the "Did You Write?" thread with my comment about how having a dream last week helped me settle so much about the story I started to work on.

So I thought I'd start another one for more comments.

You guys remember anything about the when and where of getting your ideas? What suggested it? What were you doing, that either did or didn't seem to have anything to do with it?
Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
I got my idea for my WIP when a friend of mine had a contest to win an ARC of her book and some other ones. She had us go to her Pinterest page, select a photo, and write a short flash story about it (I think it was 500 characters in length - really short.) I sent a few entries in, and this friend said the last one I sent was so good that I should consider making it into a book. So I did. (Same friend told me about Hatrack.)
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
I guess I mostly subscribe to the camp that says there's no such thing as inspiration, though I've always liked the mythology of the muse. But really, I don't think ideas spontaneously germinate. I think mostly one just mixes and matches what they take in of the world around them in order to create plot, character, dialog, etc.

I think of fiction more as a difficult pregnancy where most ideas are actually stillbirths, never making it beyond the author's whimsy. Of the small percentage that are born, only a handful make it out of infancy to adulthood.

I tend not to trust inspiration, though, which tends to flare brightly to die quickly way before completion. I've gotten to a point now that if I don't see the beginning and end of a story, I won't even bother putting pen to page to begin it even if the story itself seems like a good idea. I think one of the worst habits a writer can develop is to have a portfolio of beginnings.
Posted by wise (Member # 9779) on :
I don't even remember when I got my inspiration for my novel because it was about 15 years ago. I remember thinking of the idea, but don't know why or where it happened. However, I find my creative ideas come in times of relaxation - blow drying my hair, mowing the lawn, driving alone (with the radio off). A few times I've dreamed a good idea, but I haven't really developed any of them. Creativity comes to me in a flash. I rarely can be creative on demand. I need an idea first, then the actual writing is a task that turns the idea into something concrete.

I have found in writing my novel that sometimes I just have to stop for a week and let my mind digest what I've written so far to get the next good idea or connection between characters. I actually get some good ideas (not) listening to the minister's sermons in church!
Posted by Jess (Member # 9742) on :
A significant chunk of good ideas happen in the umm . . . powder room. I always say if you are stuck on a plot point, take a potty break (or a shower I suppose if you really don't have to go) and like magic the idea comes!
Or outside. (not to potty outside) but I get a lot of ideas while walking my dog. or while driving. or vacuuming. Or dishes. Pretty much any task that I can put myself on autopilot I'll think about my book and get ideas.
I have some ideas that I know what class I was in when I got them because I wrote notes on the side of my notebook for them.
Boring class=lots and lots of writing notes.
Posted by pdblake (Member # 9218) on :
I tend to potter about the veg patch and let things stew over in my head. A lot of ideas come in the middle of the night though, in those cat-napping moments when you can't quite seem to nod off to sleep.

Also, alcohol helps:)
Posted by mayflower988 (Member # 9858) on :
I like what Jess says - sometimes my ideas come while I'm taking a potty break or shower.

Wise, I've had my story ideas compete for my attention when I'm sitting in church, too. I usually have a little notebook with me to take notes on the sermon, so I might jot the idea down briefly and then try to get right back into the sermon. Sometimes if it's not an idea that really impresses me, I can shove it to the back of my mind. But if I think it's really good, it's going right in there with my sermon notes!
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
There is one place and one place only for inspiration: the shower.
Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
I always need some kind of trigger. It could be a remembered dream or a picture. I don't think I've ever had a story come into my head... just a concept. Then I have to write a treatment and that's where the inspiration comes out to bite me in the rear and tell me what's happening.
Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
I often get inspiration in a bath, and then usually only after I'm forcing a story. On the rare occasion when the pieces all fit, I normally have a hard time sitting down to write. I pace like a beast.
Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
The shower is good, but not for full ideas for me, but full scenes with actual words and sentences. Yard work, cutting the lawn is good for full story ideas.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
I get ideas from pictures.

The story I did for the Command for Love challenge came from a picture. I know there have been a couple of others but can't think of them right now.

Sometimes I get an idea by reading other stories-novels. There are two novels I'm working on that basically came from two other novels I read. Both of those had MCs who were descendants from some Mythological being. One is a descendant of Lilith and another comes from a line produced by someone who in, I think, Irish Myths was known as the Hound. So I decided to do make me own.

Sometimes I get a scene in my head and write a story around it. My Q3 story currently at WotF is one of those. I had a picture in my mind of someone diving through a window. I had to come up with what window, why, when and where.

And as Tiergan I have gotten ideas in the shower, plus driving around and while working.
Posted by wise (Member # 9779) on :
LDWriter2, I have used interesting pictures I've found from various magazines to inspire my 4th grade students to write. I give each student a different photo of a person with an interesting expression or in an unusual setting. They have written many really good stories that way. The more unusual the photo, the more creative the story. I stress the ideas,structure, and characterizations first, then we work on mechanics as they go from draft to draft.

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