The question is not “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s how do you shape your idea once you have chosen the one. Writers are not usually looking for ideas. They have plenty coupled with a huge desire to share them. Perhaps the better way to frame the question is “Where do you get your good ideas?”
But that is not the question for today. There are people who do wonder about ideas, their source, their manufacture. Writers tend to come across them at book signings and in the course of interviews. The questioners are typically serious and genuinely want an answer. Writers, on the other hand, are sometimes prone to react, well, less seriously. If they are particularly tired or tend toward being reclusive, “crabbily” might be a more apt description.
Are writers fat hens who simply squat at the beginning of the day and upon rising pluck the golden egg out from under them? Well, maybe some days it feels like that, but I’d have to say no. Do they have hidden wishing wells in their back yards where they daily draw their inspiration? No, not if you insist of taking everything I say literally.
For most, ideas are far more common than many might imagine. It’s less about tricks of the trade and more of observing, noting, and extrapolating. The longer I write, the more I return to myself, my life, my world. There is no hidden cache of stories, secreted list, or coveted Book of Ideas. There are experiences, places, and most of all, people. The best source comes from life.
By nature a writer observes, questions, considers everything he says, does, witnesses, or participates in. The world spinning around him provides the wool that is spun into thread to make the cloth that tells the tale. Every thing, every body, every experience is fodder. Nothing is safe from a writer’s imagination. Every writer has a limitless source of ideas. It’s what they do with those ideas that is important.
Writing is all about execution.