Get Nrdly Free Trial Built with Nrdly


Where do ideas come from?

This is one of those questions that is always asked and it’s nearly impossible to answer in a satisfactory way.

My jerk answer…. LIFE.

But allow me to try and explain and build that answer out more so that maybe, just maybe, it might be of some value.

I don’t know that there is any writer out there that has a source, or well, of ideas that they just pull out when they need them.  I certainly don’t.

So when I say “LIFE” it may be flippant but that’s where mine come from.  I go about my life and things I encounter are often the impetus and spark for some random idea.  And those ideas that stick with me for longer than a few seconds I’ll jot down in a file or pad and revisit later.

For instance, I’ve discussed to no end the inspiration for Sasquanaut, and how a search for some sweet new tunes to listen to while I work uncovered the EP called SASQUANAUT for the stoner rock band LoPan.  And my fascination with that word and my enjoyment with it, and then my subsequent HUNT to find and read or consume more stories about Bigfoot in space.  It was speaking to me in a way that few things do and I needed more.  And when I couldn’t find more I determined to make it.

That’s a pretty specific example of the way it works.  It’s honestly the only time it’s ever worked like that.  More often than not I’ll encounter someone or see something that sparks a bit of daydreaming and then write that down.

I vividly remember one time driving in my truck with my friend Tony who was visiting from Mexico.  I don’t remember where we were going but I remember EXACTLY where we were when another idea electrified me.  

Without revealing too much (as I hope to one day bring this story out), it involved my seeing an elderly Japanese man who had a very HARD look about him rolling down the sidewalk and into the streets on his electric wheelchair like he owned them all and everyone should get out of his way or suffer his wrath.  He wasn’t ostentatious or particularly standout-ish in his appearance, just an old Toshiro Mifune looking man who despite whatever infirmities he combats on a daily basis looked hard as steel while also being completely infirm in an electric wheelchair. 

I want to tell his story.  It will be crazy and zany and fun, as many of my stories are, but yeah.  I wasn’t looking for an idea or a person to get my creative juices pumping, but there it was just as I was going about my daily life.

That’s a perfect example of how it happens, moments of epiphany from some external or internal source.  One of my new projects started out as a bit of a love letter to the TV show Magnum PI, and as I started swapping out bits and pieces and adding characters and instances that I knew or that happened to me into the story and idea it became something else.  I still see the bones and origins of the idea, and I still see some of the autobiographical bits, but they have all been put through a blender and changed up to add some fantastic element or dialing an incident up a few notches on the “oh crap” meter.  

Our lives are full of drama and and things that touch our lives in a way that is challenging and meaningful to each one of us.  We can use that because while those challenges may unique to us, or those around us, the EMOTIONS are what resonate with people and that is what can really help make a story stick.  

So the old adage of “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW” applies that way.

OBVIOUSLY I don’t actually KNOW ANYTHING about a Bigfoot galivanting around the cosmos.  Nobody does because it’s a fantasy.  But the motivations, the interactions, and the emotions are what I know and that is what I draw upon to make the story.  I use my imagination to help ramp up interactions and conversations and events in my life to try and meet the needs of the characters and make something compelling.  

Each character is a piece of me, even those that I feel are the absolute worst or polar opposite of myself do embody some aspect of me.  I can’t deny that.  Hopefully expelling the worst parts of me into fiction can maybe help me to be better in person.  It’s a theory anyway.