In Creativity, Erika's Dreams, For Writers

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”
– Anais Nin

When I was little, my favorite author, Patricia Reilly Giff, came to speak at our school. When it was time for questions, I raised my hand and asked her where she gets the ideas for her stories. And to this day, I’m still amused by her answer: eavesdropping.

Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by where book ideas come from. I remember hearing that the idea for Twilight came to Stephanie Meyer in a dream. Sarah Gruen’s idea for Water for Elephants was inspired by an article about traveling circuses she read in the Chicago Tribune. Michael Connelly has said that his ideas come from real crimes. Jodi Picoult says hers come from what-if questions that get stuck in her brain like splinters. Stephen King claims his ideas come from everywhere.

The idea for the novel I’m currently writing came from a story I heard about a family friend. I got chills the first time I heard it and I knew I had to write it. Over the past two years, I’ve felt so passionate about this story that it’s motivated me to wake up and write at 5 a.m., beckoned me to spend entire weekends with it. But with the end drawing near, I can’t help but wonder: what’s next?

Will my next book idea come from a song? A news story? Will it come to me in a dream? Will it be a conversation overheard?

I suppose part of this writing adventure is waiting for the next story to walk into your life and introduce itself.

Where do your ideas come from?

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Showing 16 comments
  • the writ and the wrote
    Reply

    All over the place. I get inspired in the weirdest of places, like the shower or when I’m walking to or from somewhere. I love to sit at Starbucks and eavesdrop on people’s conversations – some people have fascinating lives.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      If only I could keep a notebook in the shower! That is an idea breeding ground for me too. Also, ideas tend to come to me right before I fall asleep, when I’m too tired to write them down.

      I love that you’re a fellow eavesdropper! Oh the things I hear…

  • Stacy S. Jensen
    Reply

    I am an eavesdropper too. I take notes after I pump gas, because people say some crazy things. I also have a google alert for my neighborhood (due to a bankruptcy issue with the development). I’ve kept a few craig list notices for the neighborhood for story ideas, because truth is often stranger than fiction.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      Wow, a Google Alert for your neighborhood! That’s one I haven’t heard before 😉

      Thanks for sharing, Stacy!

      • Stacy S. Jensen
        Reply

        I’m not a total nut. The community filed bankruptcy the day before our moving truck arrived and I keep up with bankruptcy news via Google Alerts. Funny, they don’t share that info on the community website — just the smores events and Easter egg hunts. Some of the craig list ads are straight from a Law and Order episode.

    • P.I. Barrington
      Reply

      Okay, you win Stacy! The Google alert has to be the most original! And craigslist to boot!

  • Judy S
    Reply

    Last week was a bumper idea week for me. I was hearing & seeing ideas everywhere – commercials, news stories, gossip, traffic gesturing, gardens, etc.

    I jotted down sentences as a reminder and even paragraphs on a few. I’ve tucked them aside and put them out of my conscious mind for now. When I pull them back out it’ll be fun to see if my subconscious has been able to string any of the ideas into one story as it did with the 5 seemingly different ideas that have since gelled into my current novella-in-progress!

    Judy

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      What a great exercise, Judy. It’s always interesting to come back to an idea after it’s had some time to “marinate”.

  • pibarrington
    Reply

    There isn’t really any one way for me. Many times inspiration can come from conversations I’ve had with my sister, eavesdropping, places I’ve visited, personal experiences. And then sometimes it just pops up in my weird head.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      This seems to be the way it is for me too. So many things can spark a good idea. It’s like Stephen King said, inspiration is all around us.

  • Krissy Brady, Writer
    Reply

    For me, a majority of my ideas come to me as I’m trying to sleep, especially interesting words and phrases to use in future poems, or ideas for projects I’m “stuck” on. I definitely get a workout going back and forth from bedroom to office, lol!

  • frandi
    Reply

    Filled heaps of notebooks while in the process of living

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      What a great source of inspiration, Anne. It’s funny, I love writing but have never been good a keeping a journal or diary. I’d love to have “heaps of notebooks” like you…maybe one day 😉

  • xpmedia
    Reply

    cool!

  • rita roberts
    Reply

    Hi Erika.Just read your page. Where do book ideas come from.
    The book I am writing now came from a dream my partner had which is hilareous. His dream was that he was talking to the squirrels in a forest. I was inspired immediately.

  • bizzibiz
    Reply

    Loving the information on this web site , you have done outstanding job on the posts .

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