Roots of ideas

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.


Writers are often asked: where do we get our ideas? The answer is: we get them everywhere. Here is one example. I was visiting my daughter in Toronto, and she took me for a day on the town. We rode subway. We dined at a restaurant. We went to a theater to see a show. And everywhere, we had to go up and down the stairs. Long stairs. Short stairs. Several steep flights of stairs.

Toronto is an old city. Not every subway station has an escalator (or only one escalator up, with the stairs parallel to it going down). And you had to search for an elevator, so we took the stairs. On one station, the stairs had 6 or more flights (an equivalent to a 3- or 4-storey house). The restaurant was in an old building. There was an elevator, but we didn’t find it, so we took the stairs. The theater was over 100 years old. There was an elevator, we saw it, but with a full house, there were too many people in the audience waiting for the elevator to the balcony. So we took the stairs.   

Eventually, I told her: “Today is the day of the stairs.” She laughed, but that was how I felt. And then I thought: what a wonderful title for a story: The Day of the Stairs. In my mind, the story started unfolding. It should be fantasy. It should be about an older woman, and magic, and of course, lots and lots of stairs. I’m going to write that story. And that’s where the idea came from: from the stairs in the old buildings I had to climb all around downtown Toronto.

Where do you get your ideas?   

This entry was posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Roots of ideas

  1. Sonia Dogra says:

    Hi Olga. What an amazing story behind your in-the-cauldron story. I’d love to read it sometime during the WEP. Where do I get from my ideas from? Very much like you, but a lot of them come from the lives of people I’ve known and my own memories of the past.

  2. Cool idea for a story. We can find ideas everywhere.
    That’s one thing I remember about when I lived in the UK. Lots of stairs and lots of walking.

  3. J.S. Pailly says:

    A fantasy world full of staircases sounds wonderful, and also a bit daunting. You’ve got me thinking about that M.C. Escher drawing.

    Ideas can come from literally anywhere. You never know what might spark something new! But as a science fiction writer, I get most of my ideas from reading about science. Every new science fact I learn is a a potential writing prompt for me.

  4. Loni Townsend says:

    I find inspiration all over the place, though I’m find spurts of it when I’m trying to help other people. Like my latest short story (which is gobblygook as far as plot goes) came about because I tried to explain to a critique group member the difference between telling and showing, and decided to exercise my own ability to show versus tell. It’s nice you found inspiration through your experience!

  5. Of course you find inspiration everywhere. I am looking forward to reading your ‘stair’ story.

  6. Inspiration is everywhere, yes. Words often inspire me, strange words, foreign words. But also my past, people I meet that does strange things, making me invent reasons for ythem to have to act like that.
    But often I find that ideas ‘congeal’ while sleeping, so that I dream a story, the title, or the plot. Also bathing or biking are good places for this gelling phase to happen 😉
    this sounds as the mythic INSPIRATION, but writing is for me one part inspiration and at least 11 parts hard work.
    The Day of the Stairs sounds like a book I’d like to read.

  7. spunkonastick says:

    LOL – All those stairs!

    Almost every single one of my stories came from a dream.

  8. leodfitz says:

    Interesting. I find that a surprising number of my ideas come from animals. In thinking about some specific aspect of a particular animal, whether their eating habits, social structure, migratory pattern, or relationship to predators, I often find myself wondering what kind of world would create that same behavior in humanity.

  9. It’s amazing how there is inspiration all around us. Glad you got your story idea from a fun day with your daughter.

  10. Jenni says:

    I just love the title for this story! I agree that it’s all around us. I also often take little snippets of things. Sometimes they do make it into stories and sometimes not. This summer I attended a family reunion, and I did a lot of listening, storing up stories for later. Sometimes it’s not just stories but ideas for characters that come to me in the same way.

  11. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I’ve long felt that the imagination is a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. When I’ve been using mine, I see stories everywhere. If I’ve been hiding from it for a while (yes, that’s a thing), it’s harder to see the stories. Sometimes I really like using prompts to get myself back into my writer brain.

  12. yvettecarol says:

    Don’t you love that? Our everyday experiences, when looked at the right way, can provide us with all the fodder we need for great stories.

  13. denizb33 says:

    Love it! It’s always so exciting when a story idea comes from such a mysterious prompt.

  14. emaginette says:

    Sounds like everyone gets fit even if they didn’t want to. hehehe

    Love the title.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  15. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Wow, love this. I do agree, inspiration is everywhere and sometimes it’s like a nail on the head. I relate to this so much! Thanks for sharing this, Olga.

  16. Steven Arellano Rose says:

    That sounds like it would be a really neat story! When people ask me where I get my story ideas from, I say “Life.” And life includes everything, including the things we read. So a person who asks me that can’t say I didn’t answer their question even if they were expecting something very specific. Lol

  17. mlouisebarbourfundyblue says:

    Inspiration is everywhere, Olga! I enjoyed hearing about how stairs inspired you! Write that story ~ I’d love to read it! Happy creating in October!

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