Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of us have vivid imaginations. We walk through our lives from a perspective of images and words. We pay close attention to our senses. When we feel a wind or rain or sizzling summer heat on our skin, we put them to words. An aroma, a pungent odor; the sounds of the city, a forest, or a beach; a vision of sunbeams shimmering through a leafy tree, salty sea air prickling our tongues… all invoke words that we string into phrases. The phrases turn into sentences, paragraphs, descriptions, characters, and stories.
I personally carry a “Wonderful Words” notebook. I capture wonderful words that I hear and read. I invent metaphors, similes, and scenes of personification – all to be used in future writing adventures.
Travelling in the car this weekend, I gazed at billowy clouds passing above. A whipped-cream mustache cloud turned into a description of a circus performer. I spied a needle-billed bird chasing cotton-ball bunnies. And a pointed boot on a sapphire sea gave me the idea for “Kickin’ It in Italy” for my Travel Blog entry.
In her later years, my grandma lost her sight but spent her days sitting beneath her Purple Martin birdhouse singing along with their lovely melodies. When Grandma died, the purple martins left the neighborhood never to return. This sparked “The Disappearing Martins,” my story of how a young girl and her friends wondered why the birds left their town and created a way to get them back.
My most rewarding inspiration was the basis for my picture book, I’m Not Afraid of That! During an amazing Midwest thunderstorm, my young nephew begged to go out and play in the rain. His parents of course refused him.
If only they would have allowed me to take him out there! We would have discovered the beauty of churning clouds, cracking thunder, bolting lightning, and pelting rain. My picture book tells of a similarly curious child who convinces his grandmother to venture into the dark, the storms, and the wind, as bravely together they find marvelous wonders waiting just outside the door.
So, what sparks your stories? Keep your senses keenly aware of the world you are walking through. Carry a “Wonderful Words” notebook or your journal with you at all times. Some ideas like the scent on a breeze or a passing cloud vanish quickly if you don’t stop to catch them.