Ideas, Ideas – What is the Source of Inspiration?

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

I’m sometimes asked how I come up with new ideas, especially since most of my novels involve alternate worlds and unusual cultures. The short answer: I don’t have a clue. Ideas come to me rather than me seeking them out. They arrive at odd times, usually when I’m least rational. They appear out of thin air during a long walk or a boring drive. But mostly they arrive in my twilight half-awake state, between five-thirty and six AM, when I’ve had enough sleep to be half conscious, but am still too groggy to let my rational side dominate.

Images materialize out of nowhere with only one thing in common. All evoke some strong emotion in me. Then as I come more alert, I find myself trying to make sense of them. Where did they come from? What do they mean? And inevitably—assuming I’ve been writing each day—how can I use this image in my latest story?

Logic follows creativity around like a good scribe, taking notes and organizing thoughts into coherent patterns. But where do the ideas come from? I haven’t a clue.

No wonder the ancients came up with the notion of the muse.

My conclusion: Creativity comes not from finding ideas, but by embracing them as they flit across the palette of a daydreaming mind.

I plan to follow this blog post with a series of examples from The Seekers trilogy, with specific events and places that inspired the story. Stay tuned.

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