There are typical questions that people ask professionals in most fields. I am a writer and one of the side benefits of being a writer is that you always get asked this question:
Where do you get your ideas?
I recently read a wonderful essay by author Neil Gaiman whose answer to that question is:
I make them up.
Out of my head.
Gaiman says in his essay that writers get their ideas from everywhere and I agree with him wholeheartedly. I find that my ideas come to me so fast and furiously sometimes that I cannot keep track of them as they dance around madly in my head.
Writers, whether they are fiction or non-fiction wordsmiths, are required to come up with ideas on a constant basis. Non-fiction writers are often required to pitch ideas when bidding on a job or even given a blank slate in a general topic area, and then asked to pitch an idea. I pitch ideas almost on a daily basis for my freelance writing gig. These ideas run the gamut from marketing subjects to recipe tips.
Blog writers plot the story arc of their blog as diligently as fiction writers plot out their three-book space odyssey. Generating ideas is not really the difficult part of writing at all.
The real literary drama is when it is time to write the article, craft the book or draft the essay. It’s the spelling out of the story that is the difficult part of writing. The continuous reality of sitting down and writing 1500 words a day (or whatever your quota is), day after day, article after article and story after story is what can scare a writer out of his skin. If you need help coming up with ideas for a paper, I can give you several within minutes on almost any topic. However, there are many times when I have to force myself to focus on my work and get an article finished to hand it in by deadline.
For me, it is the blank piece of paper that gives me the willies, or in the modern era, the blank computer screen. Every new piece is a troublemaker until I actually start writing, and then the words flow.
I am not a fiction writer, at least not yet. The thought of writing an entire book intimidates me. However, a year ago I would have never thought that I would be writing as a freelancer for a living, and look at me now. Ideas pour out of my head. I make them up. Every day.
Paula A spends her days writing about sales and marketing, but in her off-time, she devotes her culinary skills to creating biscotti recipes just for fun.