It’s another month, and another of our authors’ Round Robins…
This month our topic is set by author Fiona McGier:
Where do ideas come from?
Creative inspiration seems like a sort of magic, and one of the wonders of the human mind. It’s amazing to think how an idea or image in someone else’s brain can be translated into a book or film, and become ‘real’ to someone else.
I have no problem in general thinking up ideas – I just have a problem setting aside the time to write them up!
Which leads to…
Sit down and write
If I have a very rough idea for a story, but don’t know how to flesh it out, I set myself a time limit – perhaps forty minutes or an hour – and just start writing. The problems in the story present themselves, and, because I’m forced to keep writing, I have to find a way around them. Other ideas follow. I have no idea why that is, but perhaps it’s because, in the act of writing, I’m using that part of the brain that comes up with ideas. It’s like starting off on a run when you haven’t exercised in months. You can feel daunted as you take your first step, but gradually, you feel yourself getting fitter.
Take advantage of being bored
It’s easy to get distracted by phones and constant on-time, but being bored can lead to daydreaming and putting aside the screen can lead to a whole world of ideas opening up.
One cold and rainy day a few years ago I was sitting on a grimy commuter train, my wet clothes steaming in the fug, thinking I would rather be anywhere else but here. The carriage was absolutely packed with pale, exhausted commuters, and I was on my way to my job in a factory, to face another day of deadlines, awkward customers and production disasters.
I began daydreaming about where I’d rather be instead. A sunny day in the south of France seemed like a lovely place, and my train of thought took me to Lyon, where I’d once worked as an au pair many years before. From there I started thinking about the silk industry in Lyon, and how much more glamorous I imagined it would be to work there than my own factory.
And so from this train of thought the whole of my first ever novel, The Silk Romance, was born. Every day from then on my commute became a blessing. I spent the time thinking about my hero and my gorgeous setting, and scribbling down my story in my notebook. Out of a boring commute, in the most unlikely place, a novel was born.
If you want writing to flow, don’t be a perfectionist
This is something I’ve struggled with. I’m not a naturally confident person, and in the past I’ve found lack of confidence a massive barrier to letting ideas flow. Are my ideas just too silly? Should I even bother trying to make a go of this story?
Now I genuinely think only of the characters in my story, and as soon as I start to think of them, they come alive and they are their own people. Thinking of them as real right from the start, rather than as imaginary beings in my head, helps give my ideas life and can set me down a completely different path than if I’d been worrying all the time if the idea is ‘right’ or ‘good enough’.
Being receptive to new things
Being curious is something I’ve never struggled with. (My husband might say ‘nosy’ rather than ‘curious’ :) ) If someone asks if I’d like to go somewhere, I generally say yes. It might be a film I wouldn’t have chosen myself, or an art exhibition, or a trip to the seaside. Of course with the lockdown going out is far more difficult. I have to say that I struggled with ideas during the first few months. One way to get round this is…
‘Stealing’ ideas from other people
David Bowie famously stole ideas like a magpie, but he used them to create something new and made them unique. In the past I’ve seen minor characters in films or books, and wondered what happened to them once the story is over? Where did they go? At first these are idle questions in my head (my nosiness again!) but new characters and whole new stories have come from wondering about a bit-player in someone else’s narrative.
Finding time to work on your ideas
Finding ideas isn’t my problem. Finding time to write them up is what I need to work on. I have a brilliant idea for the start of a novel, but I have another book to write first, and a short story, and other writers’ books to edit. I haven’t been able to let my mind mull over this idea yet, but who knows – next time I’m on a boring train journey, perhaps the rest of the story might come to me!
Are you a writer or an artist? Where do your ideas come from? Has a book or film ever sparked an idea for you?
And if you’d like to find out where the other authors in our Round Robin get their ideas from, please click on the links below…
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2eA
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/