I hope I get asked this question one day while I’m touring for a book. I don’t know if I’ll have a good answer. It is fascinating how we come up with ideas for books and movies and creative works and solutions to conundrums. It could be an idea that pops into our heads seemingly out of nowhere and we jot it down and feed it and let it grow from a seedling to a world tree or one that festers within us (consciously or unconsciously) until an something pops it onto the tracks and the ride begins. I cannot tell you how many books I have been introduced to by watching a movie or a trailer for said movie. I remembered just yesterday that Howl’s Moving Castle (probably my favorite Studio Ghibli film) was based off of a book. I’ll hopefully be starting that book tomorrow if I can finish The Gunslinger by Stephen King by then.
Writer’s tip #1: Keep a notebook and pen with you at all times to jot down ideas that pop into your head. You’d be surprised how helpful it can be. I keep a small, credit card sized notebook with me. I can usually find a pen when I need one, but I should try to keep one with me more often. Yes, there is the phone, but I don’t use my phone for taking notes. I prefer actual paper. Same goes for reading. I prefer a physical copy than a digital one. If it’s easier for you to just take notes on your phone then have at it. I’ve pulled out my notebook several times and flipped through it when I’ve sat down to write a short story. Some of the ideas in it are not very good or will not work well beyond a flash piece/scene, but others are good and I’ve used them. It helps combat that blank page if it gets too intimidating.
Ideas can come from anywhere. Stephen King, in his forward to The Gunslinger gives credit to its origin to two things; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (which has inspired millions of people let alone writers) and the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I’ll admit The Lord of the Rings has inspired my writing career significantly and I will one day write a large fantasy world and a good story to happen within it. I’ve had the idea since I was fifteen and it’s been festering in me for over a decade. Soon I think I may be up to the task and will get it on the page. The time is almost ripe, but for now I am working on the my first novel that is a mix of both fantasy and science fiction. I’ve drawn inspiration from many sources for this which I’m sure stemmed from my original love of science and theoretical physics.
This is why reading is so important. Alongside experiencing other creative work. It plants ideas. Of course it also increases vocabulary and entertains and reminds you of all the great things that can be done with words. This is why I am always up for a recommendation. Hell, The Dark Tower series was recommended to me by a friend. It may be awhile before I get through all 4500+ pages of it, but I’m almost done with the first of seven books. You never know where your next great idea will come from.