‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ or ‘Where did you get the idea for this book?’ They’re questions writers get asked. A lot.
Ideas are everywhere, though, and there’s also more to do it than that. What I always want to know about writers is not ‘where do they get their ideas’ but ‘how do they transfer them onto the page’. I love hearing about writing routines. Word count targets. Tricks and tips. Places people go to when they write, and whether they write by hand or on computer and whether this changes from draft to draft.
I don’t think ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ elicits the most interesting responses. It’s too vague, and too big. So. Here’s my list of suggested alternative questions – feel free to add your own.
- Do you do anything – research, activities – to deliberately provoke ideas? Does this happen before or after you’ve started writing?
- How much did you know/plan about this book before you started writing?
- What aspects of the book came first and what came later?
- How do you develop ideas? Do you jump straight into writing or do you plan?
- How do you plan or outline? Does anything tend to change from the plan to the finished work?
- What comes first – character, setting, story? Or is it all mixed together?
- How much does your own life experience affect what you write?
- Are there certain types of the day when you’re more likely to get ideas or certain activities (even if not intentional) that prompt ideas?
- What does ‘getting an idea’ mean to you? Is it vague and in need of fleshing out or do you get fully-formed plots popping into your brain?