Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

Vision

Where do writers come up with their story ideas? It’s one of the most common questions we are asked, and the answer is different for every writer. For me, the answer is also different for every story I write.

Many of my ideas come from reading and watching the news. Something will catch my attention and cause me to wonder “what’s that all about?” or ask “what if…?” The answer that develops inevitably becomes a magazine article, short story or novel premise. Other ideas come from real life experiences — events witnessed firsthand — that grip my mind so tightly I must write about them to expel them. A car accident perhaps, or a child bullied at school.

A few years ago, a bizarre nightmare led me to draft a short fiction piece that eventually won an award and publication in the literary journal River Styx. That was a first for me. Inspiration through dream hasn’t struck since, but I’m glad it did that once.  (If you’re curious, Download NightWindow.)

Much like their different origins, my stories also tend to have different voices. The thread that ties all my ideas and writing together is my goal to weave compelling stories and bring characters to life, whether short fiction, novel or nonfiction.

Where do you get your ideas? Do they vary depending on whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction? Share your thoughts!