“Where do you come up with this crap?”
I usually answer with “That’s just the way my brain works”, although I’m fond of Stephen King’s answer: “Utica.”
Creativity is a strange beast, and it comes and goes as it pleases. Often, I just wake up with a story or phrase on my mind and all it takes is getting in front of the typewriter.
Other times, I have to prostrate myself on the floor of my office and beg God for creative mercy. Sounds a little over-dramatic, but I do pray each day for some sort of inspiration, and often I get a great idea after praying or considering something that I’ve read in the Bible.
And then there are those times where inspiration is only a mouse-click away – those days when I open up the Firefox browser on my Mac and click on CNN.com and the stories just pour out like a faucet. I particularly find good stuff on the Justice page, as well as the Politics and Tech pages.
And then you have the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall-Street Journal, and dozens of other news sites that every writer should have bookmarked in their browser. It also helps to have the local paper, in my case the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, linked, as those stories will tend to resonate a bit more because of proximity.
I happen to have found a great example of how my local paper comes through for me, and it would make an awesome B-grade horror movie or a great short story if done right. Apparently, there is a cell phone number that European carrier Mobitel has deactivated after the past three holders of the number died in succession – beginning with Mobitel’s own president. Here’s the link to prove I’m not making this up. Like I said, Inspiration comes from the strangest places…
Now – as a writer, I ask you: what would you do with the story about the cell phone number? Where does your imagination take you?