Sunday, May 17, 2015

Where Do Your Ideas Come From by Christine Bush

“Where do your ideas come from?” I hear this question a lot, and it’s a hard one to answer.  Where DO my ideas for stories come from?  Today I’m going to give  the question a little brain time.

Sometimes it’s a matter of a story growing out of someone I see in my daily life.  A person in a time and place can trigger the question “What if?”

For instance, on a trip to the grocery store, I see a woman dressed in a fancy bridesmaid dress, complete with bouquet, standing anxiously in the cashier line.  Is she in a hurry to get to the wedding, and needed an emergency run to the store for pantyhose, or Tylenol?  But what if she just ran FROM the wedding? Hmmm. A character is born.

Or I see a teenager who has parked his bike in the park, scrambling furiously under a bench, fingers combing the grass and dirt.  Then he rips apart his backpack, tossing stuff into the air.  What is he looking for?  Is it just a missing key to his house, or is he missing the priceless antique ring for his sister’s wedding that disappeared on his way home?  A plot is born.

Looking out over the quiet desert on a trip west, I see a solitary woman across the flat vista, wandering though the sparse desert growth, filling a basket. A setting is born.

The initial ideas can come at any time, in any place.

But when do they grow?  I know for some writers, taking solid blocks of solitary “thinking time” away from the world.  I like that idea, but truth is, it’s not part of my life.  My ideas grow when I’m multi tasking.

They grow when I’m sorting socks.  I live next door to my daughter and son in law and six active grandkids.  They have a lot of socks (Do the math.. 7x8 pair for daily wear, plus socks for soccer, tennis, and baseball.. practically a full time job!)  I dive into the basket, finding the pairs, sorting the piles.  Not rocket science, but a great family service.  My brain goes on overdrive, writing character sketches in my head, organizing time lines, planning outlines.

My ideas grow when I’m weeding the garden, when I’m vacuuming up the cat hair, when I’m stapling papers for school.  When my hands are busy, my brain seems to spurt.
Where do your ideas come from?  And what does it take to make them grow?

Christine Bush is the award winning author of many books and novellas of sweet romance and light mystery. She also writes Middle Grade Fiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working with clients as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, or teaching Psychology at a local college.  She lives with her family and two crazy cats in northeastern Pennsylvania, and loves to hear from readers and aspiring writers.

Her latest book “Cindy’s Prince” can be found at  Amazon


  1. Great post, Christine! Like you, I'm often inspired by everyday things (or people) I see. Love the question "What if?" You can apply it to almost any situation and--with a bit of imagination--come up with an interesting story! My ideas tend to grow like yours do: most often when I'm doing other things. Mundane tasks are best for me when I'm "head writing" multi-tasking: doing dishes, yes laundry (!)...even taking long walks with the dog. Probably the worst way for my ideas to grow is for me to sit still and stare at the computer. :)

  2. I often get my ideas from eavesdropping on conversations!

  3. My ideas come from travel. From Washington State to Key West Florida, the country we live in is beautiful and full of stories. Who lived in the Victorian house on the hill in Kansas, or the abandoned mountain home in Wyoming? Who owns that horse farm in Virginia and what is their story? An ocean view in North Carolina, a field of wildflowers in Colorado, or a shrimp boat pulling away from a Louisiana dock are all inspiration. I always have a notebook and my camera at the read when taking a road trip.

  4. I think I use all of these, although for my historical romances I take ideas from actual people in the past.

  5. Great suggestions! I keep a running list of such ideas that pop into my head (or that happen before my eyes!) in a Google Drive spreadsheet — I can access it on my phone when I'm on the go, or from my laptop when I'm writing. It's very helpful!