“Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.”
~Lucas, Empire Records
When I think about thinking, that line from Empire Records pops into my head. But do you ever wonder if it’s possible to reverse engineer the appearance of ideas to figure out a way to keep ’em coming? Is there a secret to making thoughts appear better/faster/more reliably?
The main character in my first book evolved from a writing exercise in Advanced Creative Writing during my senior year in college. A book I’ve been secretly scribbling on the side for the past several years (because my hobby is also writing), started when two songs in succession on iTunes shuffle created a “what if” scenario in my head that I couldn’t stop imagining.
My second book evolved after my first editor approached me with the basic idea that I could write a book about someone becoming someone else, and I spun that into a story about identity and self-actualization and a high school reunion.
My next book started with the first line. Staring at a blank page, pencil in hand, the words popped into my head and then I had to figure out who would say such a thing and why.
I know what I want to write next (and what I want to write after that, and after that, and maybe, just maybe, what I could write after that). I know that as we’re walking through our every day life, the “what ifs” can reach out and grab us. Writing exercises can be magic. Blank pages don’t have to be terrifying, because sometimes, if we stare at them with hope in our hearts, ideas just bloom. But even knowing all that, the thought of a future when I’ve worked my way through the ideas I have on deck leaves me feeling a little bit breathless.
If thoughts just appear, what if suddenly they don’t?
I also know, I can’t be the only one who has to wrangle that particular worry. So I thought I’d ask some other writers where their ideas come from.