Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Time flies when you're having fun!

A few weeks ago I blogged about my latest manuscript, a 42,000 word novel for 10 to 14 year-olds. I discussed the common advice to writers that tells us to write about what we know. I added another thought to this advice, which is to write about our passions. That's what I did with my latest manuscript.

If you'd like to read my earlier post, please click on the following link: http://robynopie.blogspot.com/2010/06/common-advice-write-about-what-you-know.html

Where do you get your ideas?

Writers are often asked: "Where do you get your ideas?" The question isn't always easy to answer because sometimes ideas seem to pop into our heads out of the blue, as if from nowhere. In my opinion "nowhere" is actually the subconscious mind.

Our conscious and subconscious minds absorb everything around us. Our experiences and memories become part of the subconscious mind. When an idea seems to pop into our heads, it's the subconscious mind that gives us the idea from our stored experiences and memories. The experiences and memories may be new or they could be old.

Apparently we don't forget anything. Everything is stored in our subconscious mind. The problem is our ability to recall information.

Can you remember a time when you simply couldn't think of an answer to a question? Perhaps you had trouble recalling the name of a movie. It was on the tip of your tongue. Later, the answer popped into your head. The problem wasn't the loss of memory but rather a problem with accessing the information.

My latest manuscript was a different experience for me. No popping into my head, though I'm sure my subconscious mind was still involved. The plot came slowly and, when it finally did, I realized my life's experiences and interests came together in this one story.

Okay, perhaps not every one of my experiences. But my main interests, my passions, were evident in the story. My subconscious delved back into my childhood to remind me of an earlier interest.

When I was a child, I loved reading the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Famous Five series, as well as other mysteries. I remember reading a Hardy Boy's novel called "The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior". This novel got me interested in the Aztecs and, through further reading, I became interested in the Inca and the Maya. At the time, I was particularly intrigued by the ancient Maya of what is known as the Classic Period. For some reason, I felt a connection to the Maya.

Time went on and my life changed. I grew up, left school, got a job and married. I forgot about the Maya.

Or did I?

Fast forward approximately 25 years.

The ancient Maya are a passion of mine. Once again, I feel a connection to this amazing early civilization. I read everything I can about them. They fascinate me and I believe we can learn a lot from them.

However, the ancient Maya didn't inspire my latest manuscript. My initial idea had nothing to do with this classic civilization. In fact, when I first started thinking about what I wanted to write, I'd still forgotten my interest in the Maya. I had no idea my passion would resurface after approximately 25 years.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, my passions came together to create my latest manuscript. The ancient Maya are one facet - one passion. Who knew I'd include them in a plot?

Not me!

My other passions, which are also part of my latest manuscript, are newer interests. Mainly because times are changing. We've become more accepting, open-minded perhaps, and science continues to advance.

My final plot involved at least three of my passions, and they are my main interests. I've immersed myself in these subjects, learning everything I can about them. Hence, my advice to write about your passions. I know about the Maya, for example, because of my passion for these people and their history. Without the passion, I'd have no knowledge. Therefore I write about what I know - my passions.

I'm not going to explain the entire idea of my story or reveal the rest of my passions here and now. This blog entry would be too long. You'll need to come back and keep reading as I add more about developing my idea for my latest manuscript.

Thanks for reading. See you soon.

All the best,
Robyn Opie


Sheryl Gwyther said...

I totally agree with you, Robyn, weiting from our passions make sure you continue to find new energy to keep at it!
I love to research my stories before and during my writing of them - it doesn't even matter if I don't use everything in the finished story. It just makes me more aware of other aspects as I write.

Milena Kavrakova said...

Dear Robyn, it was very enjoyable to read where you get your ideas from. My favorite part about writing is when a waft of an idea reaches me long before a character or plot are near. Then I let it marinate.
A month ago I saw a neglected garden full of wild hollyhocks. At the time I didn't know the name of those two meters long flowers pocking the sky with their colorful flower heads. But I felt the presence of an idea.It is still marinating. And I love it:)