“Where Do You Get Ideas?”

The question of where you get ideas has always boggled me. Ideas are everywhere. Ideas are free. They are infinite. Ideas are not hard. The implementation of said idea is what you pay for from an author. That is where the real work is.

I see this fairly often at writer’s conferences. There is always either some older lady or some pretentious twenty-something (everyone but me is the worst) who raises their hands during the QA session and asks the author “Where do you get your ideas?”. This is usually followed by an awkward silence by the panel or author, a curt smile, and a snarky answer like “From Joe” or “They come from Kansas.”

Why are the answers snarky? Because the authors have been asked this question hundreds or thousands of times. They are sick of the question because the question is nonsense.

I think part of the reason this question is so popular is that people think the magic is in the idea rather than the implementation. A competent writer can take pretty much any idea and make it successful because they know how to produce. They have the skillz to pay the billz, yo.

If you want to be a writer, you have to INVENT your own shit. You might have to use your mind. If you don’t have an imagination, you may want to re-think your wish to be a writer.

And no, there is no muse out there either, nor does it creep into your bedroom at night and whisper the plot for the next Star Wars trilogy into your ears so you can beat Lucas Film Disney to the punch.

So yeah. The lesson here is never asking that question. If you have to ask, you aren’t ready to hear the real answer.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

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