The brain of a writer is a curious thing. Where do you get your ideas? A question often asked, but never truly explained. Idea triggers come from everywhere, and send a message into the writer’s brain that then fires off connections. Before you know it, a full story is there – and just where was it before that?
I often ponder and sometimes discuss the process of idea formation. It is still as much a mystery to me as it always has been. Why do ideas pop up for one person and not another? Perhaps Terry Pratchett described it best.
This may be as close as anyone gets to the process of creative thought. Everyone filters an idea through the lens of their experience. For instance, take any group of writers, offer a prompt word, and see what happens. Each one will be totally different. There is a hashtag game on Twitter #VSS365 (VSS = Very Short Story) which offers a daily prompt. The range of responses is astonishing.
Writer’s block is often discussed, and to my way of thinking, is something that is stopping you receiving the sleeting of ideas. Once you get past it, most likely your subconscious is full of stories that have been churning away without you knowing. These sort of word prompts are a good way to tiptoe around the edges of a block, while you wait for ideas to claw their way out of your brain’s hidden pockets. I had a one word prompt that was a flash fiction 15 minutes later during driving, and then a 100,000 word fantasy novel. From just one word. Where did that come from?
Of course, you often know where it comes from. We all have recurring issues we write about, or perhaps our heroines may look a little like how we would secretly like to look. Or you are a voracious reader – all those words stay inside, presumably chatting to the other words!
It’s good to have an open mind, to be receptive to these random ideas. Let them stir the dark swampy recesses of your brain, and see what amazing new worlds surface.
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain.
Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building.
Contact Cindy on