Someone asked me the other day how I came up with a story idea. I have always had a vivid imagination, and like most writers I hear voices. These voices are screaming to get out (don’t worry, I’m harmless).
So why do these elaborate plots live in my head? The answer might be in my genes. My grandmother wrote news articles for a local magazine, I have two brothers who are published authors, and a son who can write circles around me!—was writing something I was born to do? Maybe, but I also believe that my love for developing and writing stories was nurtured over time.
The same grandmother, who wrote for a living, was constantly telling me stories that would ignite my imagination. My brothers were reading Tolstoy and C.S. Lewis as teenagers. My parents used words like sardonic and impetuous at the dinner table, and if we didn’t know what it meant there was always a dictionary close by. I was encouraged to read rather that watch the latest episode of Mod Squad. Even today I understand that I must nurture my mind if I want to promote creativity.
I now know that when I take the time to feed my mind, my soul, ideas begin to develop. Some ideas are just seeds that have yet to grow; others have started to sprout but haven’t matured, while some have blossomed into full blown stories.
How do I encourage this process? I write better in the mornings when my mind is a clean slate that hasn’t been cluttered by the worries of the world. So, I research in the evenings, read, and sometimes listen to music. By the time I fall asleep my mind has been creatively stimulated. Most mornings I wake up with ideas and words just waiting to find their way onto the page. I make a stop at the coffee maker, and head directly to my office to write. I do not check email, I do not make friends on Facebook, and I shut off the phone—the rest of the world can wait!
So let me go back to the beginning. Someone asked me the other day how I came up with a story idea—the answer, they find me I don’t find them.