People often ask writers where they get their ideas. Over the years, various writers have offered their own answers, sometimes silly or sarcastic, sometimes serious, sometimes snarky, and, every once in a while, helpful. As every writer has sometimes hit writers block, where the ideas just won’t flow onto the page, we all wonder at times. I plan to do a series of articles on ways to overcome writers block. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts about where ideas come from.
Ideas are everywhere, like ghost butterflies, that flitter and float around, sometimes just out of reach, sometimes right in your face, almost always slipping away until they are pinned to the page. Only the pen (or its modern stepchild, the keyboard) can give them weight, infusing them with ink, so they can be “penned” down.
Ideas are everywhere, like strange gases that you inhale without knowing you’ve done so. They get inside you and fill your soul and your heart with longings for people and places that you’ve never seen; passions for things that you thought you understood until the idea drives you to delve deeply into the topic; and joy profound when you find any writer who can exhale the smallest bit of an idea in a way that makes it sing and dance.
Ideas are everywhere, like water that flows over pebbles and stones in backwoods creeks; into sparkling lakes and fast-moving or sluggish rivers; and through ocean depths unseen and teeming with life. Water trapped in air is steam, fog, clouds. Water released is rain, hail, snow, teardrops, sweat. As water must be frozen into ice before it can be chiseled into forms, so ideas must be frozen to the page to make a form that we can see. Our world is water contained in matter, as are our bodies. Ideas contained in matter are writing and the multiplicities of things inspired by the ideas so contained.
Ideas are everywhere. The difference between writers and other people is that writers capture ideas or get captured by them; and we cannot avoid the exquisite pain of spreading them across the page.