When people ask Stephen King where he gets his ideas, he sometimes jokes that he buys them at the Idea Store. It’s a question that every writer gets at one time or another. For me, finding ideas used be a struggle. Then somewhere along the line, I began to see them everywhere.
One example: Many years ago, I was out with friends and someone mentioned that a friend of theirs was giving up on men and decided to have a baby on her own (something that’s pretty common today). Something struck me about the story and I immediately went to work on a romantic comedy on the subject. This script is more than 15 years old now, but it’s had many, many fans over the years - especially women.
Another story: one day in 2007, I was driving while listening to talk radio. Something about the anger I was hearing (ironically, it was coming from people I basically agreed with!) led to a movie idea. It plopped into my head, almost fully formed - beginning, middle, end and a title. And as any writer knows, when something like this happens, you take it seriously. So I quickly went to work on this project, called “El Vigilante.” Six months later, I had a finished script and production company trying to get it made (they’re still trying to get it made!).
I have many more examples, but it isn’t always so concrete. Sometimes ideas, or solutions to creative problems, come seemingly out of nowhere. How does this happen? Is it the unconscious mind, quietly working on a problem while I’m watching an episode of “Justified?” Is it something outside of me, penetrating my mind through a door that I’ve left open? Are the dead talking to me? I don’t know and I’m not sure I want to. The important thing is to listen.