Where do ideas for writing come from?
So many people ask writers at readings: “Where do your ideas come from?” It’s happened to me many times, and I’ve heard the question from people in the audience at readings given by A. S. Byatt, Dennis Lehane, Joan Didion, John Dufresne, Amy Tan, Junot Diaz, Campbell McGrath, Marie Howe, and countless others.
The answer is that ideas come form our daily lives. I’ve never kept a journal or diary, and was embarrassed to admit this in some writing classes. But I always have notebooks filled with things: lists of wines, types of flowers and trees, names of rivers, book titles, recipes, names of bottled water, names of oysters, constellations, stars, bits of dialogue, snatches of scenes, pieces of eulogies, prayers, dreams, song titles, titles of poems, descriptions of places I’ve traveled to, names of people, towns, and streets from foreign cities and those Stateside…like Dubrovnik, Seattle, Bejing, Boise, Paris, Singapore, Bora-Bora, Kuala Lampur, Venice, Mandalay. You get the picture. So I guess I’ve been keeping a type of “writer’s journal” all these years after all.
Ideas come from all aspects of life. Nothing is too insignificant to take note of or jot down in a little book you carry with you…everywhere. Keep a notebook in the car, one on your nightstand, one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, one by the computer.