"It came to me when" ... At book signings, one of the most often asked question is how do I come up with my ideas for writing. I have to pause and think about it because there really isn't just one way or place or method that inspires me with what to write. It's not that easy.
I'd guess that most every author has those moments, totally unexpected, when a creative notion pops into his head. I know I have. I might be watching a program on television, listening to a song, walking through the mall, playing with my dog, talking on the phone, or just daydreaming, and it will hit me, an epiphany, that seed of an idea that will root and sprout into a story.
Of course, it can't always be explained. Sometimes I don't even remember how the idea started. Maybe it comes in my dreams! But as I found, many authors have acquired their inspiration in various ways. Did you know that A. A. Milne used his son's name to create the main character of his books -- Christopher Robin, and the Hundred Acre Woods was part of his childhood imaginings with his father? Sherlock Holmes was based on Conan Doyle's medical professor in college.
Inspiration may come quickly and easily for some, but then pull to a halt. I've had great ideas, ideas I believed would turn into a bestseller novel. I'd get the story going, and then ... nothing. Glad to know I am not alone. Frank Baum did the same with The Wizard of Oz. He hit a road bump, stuck in a rut. Fortunately, he found his inspiration again and finished it.
And the absolute worst? Doubt. When I write what I had thought was a fantastic story, but somewhere along the way, I start feeling this self doubt, a lack in confidence thinking that I haven't any talent, that all I come up with is crap. It's a scary feeling. Perhaps you've heard the story about Harper Lee. She wrote and rewrote her masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. And the evil master of doubt started creeping inside. She even threw the manuscript out in the snow one day. Aren't we glad she regained her confidence?
Last of all, and maybe most important to remember, is that even the best idea means nothing if you don't have the talent to carry it out and create a story. And once a writer begins the journey, it's painfully hard, it's messy, it's always an uphill climb to the finish. In other words, it's work. Remember that the next time you read a book. Several hours to finish reading it? Think about several months, maybe several years, to write it. Yes, it takes inspiration, imagination, creativity, and endless hours of dedicated writing. And it's a truly great thing.