Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas

Probably the most common question people ask me about writing is where I get my ideas. Generally, I tell them my ideas come from living. Recently, I got an idea from death.

My husband’s brother’s wife died from bone cancer on Saturday. The diagnosis came just after the first of the year, giving her and her family very little time to grasp the new reality.

A few days before Vickie died, I had a death dream. One moment I was driving a car around a bend and the next I was floating above a field. Immediately I realized that although I was outside above a frost covered the field—I wasn’t cold. Wind moved the trees, but I felt nothing as I watched the scene of the accident. A few minutes later all sounds disappeared and everything around me became eerily quiet.

I thought of my husband and suddenly I was where he was. I watched him receive the news of my death. I had the same experience with each of my children.

I woke before dawn and I did what I often do when I’m upset. I put on my running shoes, plugged in my IPod and headed outside. The world was covered with frost (I was in Washington, visiting my family—the world in California, where I live, is rarely covered in frost) but unlike in my dream, my feet were firmly planted on the ground.

As I ran I thought about my dream and related it to writing. In my dream I was able to watch my loved ones receive the news of my death, but what if a writer was able to watch readers read her books? How would that change the writer and her work?

This is just one example of how one writer (me) gets her (my) ideas.


  1. I think that is a very valid question, "what if a writer was able to watch readers read her books? How would that change the writer and her work?" And I think the only way we can really gauge that answer is by reading death scenes of our favorite characters in other books.

    I think that is why writers are told to read!

    Awesome post! Loved it! I can imagine how sad and creepy that dream would be. At the same time "Book idea overload!" :)

  2. I wonder if I'll ever have the time to write all the stories in my head. Maybe I'll have to start writing short stories.

  3. I've heard that we don't create stories but they are there just waiting to be written. Characters to be discovered, moments to be shared and relationships to be developed, all waiting for someone to put them down on paper. You have a gift to open the door and let them out. Thank-you!