“Where do you get your ideas?”

Like other writers of fiction, I’m frequently faced with that inevitable question: “Where do you get your ideas?”

My usual reply: Sal’s Literary Ideas & Auto Parts in South Boston. Sure, Sal’s prices are steep. But you can’t beat his 30-day warranty.

Joking aside, the ability to fabricate stories from thin air seems mysterious to readers, who are understandably curious about the nature of the creative process. Unfortunately, for the most part, we authors are just as clueless as everyone else!

My favorite quote regarding this topic is from Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert Olen Butler: “Please get out of the habit of saying that you’ve got an idea for a short story. Art does not come from ideas. Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where you dream. Art comes from your unconscious; it comes from the white-hot center of you.” 

The key to writing good fiction is to access your unconscious. For some, this comes naturally. Others, like me, must coax the muse out of hiding. This is best done, in my experience, by entering into the twilight state between waking and dreaming. Walking, jogging, communing with Nature, taking a hot bath, daydreaming, and meditating can all help.

If all else fails, you may want to purchase my Whack-a-Plot™ kit, or my revolutionary product, Brano™. As the ad says: Out with the clichéd phrases and stale storylines, and in with the brilliant epiphanies!

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