Friday, September 30, 2011

How To Get Ideas

Dude, for me, this is pretty simple. It's not earth-shattering either. Or brain-bending.

It's easy.

Live your life.

No one can write all the time, 24-hours a day. It would be impossible. Eventually you'll get burned out, and besides, where would all your novel fodder come from?

Because let's face it, there are some things you just can't make up. That's the whole "stranger than fiction" thing you've heard about. It's true, people.

For example, I'm drafting away, and I need every spare minute to write. But where do I go on Monday night?

A Mascot bowl.

That's right. Get jealous. Picture proof below:

I think that's a badger. Playing the drums. Stranger than fiction? Uh, yeah.

Green man percussion group from UVU. Weird, and not for the reasons you think. It totally bugged me that their gloves weren't the same shade of green as their unitards. And you always win when you can use "unitard" in a real conversation.

The bull from USU getting the crowd fired up. Or something. I pretty much sat there the whole night, but it was fun. And yes, those are the Rocky Mountains. Just being outside is refreshing.

The mascots getting ready to receive the kick. 

Everyone needs to take a break from writing. Everyone needs to get out there and live their real life. For me, that's when the best ideas come. Even if they're not life-shattering. They still come, and they allow me to refresh myself to live inside the page again.

How do you get your ideas? Have you ever been to a mascot bowl? I highly recommend it. It was pretty much the highlight of my week.

50 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

Those pictures are hysterical! What a fun (silly, crazy) idea! :)

I totally agree. Life comes first. Always.

Wendy L. Callahan said...

Love the pictures and definitely agree with what you said. Life has to be lived! My best ideas come from life itself, and the people, places and events around me.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've never heard of a mascot bowl before. Sounds hilarious.

The idea for my YA horror came from an issue of Teen Vogue. :D

Creepy Query Girl said...

Art imitates life and without real life we'd have nothing. Love your picks- and it's true that sometimes real life is stranger than fiction. I know I've found myself in a few situations where I've had to pinch my self and wonder if the weird was going on around me. It was.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love the pictures. I agree that you can get lots of great ideas for writing from life.

salarsenッ said...

Perfect advice: live your life! I'm with you. I have no problem coming up with ideas. I must have 30 folders opened up with new story ideas. For me, the trouble lies in developing those ideas. Any posts on how to kick your brain in gear to thread the needles, creating a concise story?

Ron Smith said...

Great, simple advice that we all need to be reminded of now and every then.

Extra points for using unitard.

Jessie Harrell said...

I couldn't agree more. I was at an outdoor O.A.R. concert one night with hubby & a bunch of friends and suddenly I knew I had to translate what I was feeling at that moment into my WIP. You should've seen the evil-eye I got when I whipped out my iPhone and started typing notes in the middle of the concert. LOL! It was totally worth it though.
(And to answer your other Q - no, I've never been to a mascot bowl. But GO GATORS!)

Christine Fonseca said...

Great pics! And I agree....you have to live your life.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Great reminder, Elana! Live life and the stories will follow.

Jessie Humphries said...

I will have to use the word "unitard" in my next argument to see if I win! I get a lot ideas from other books I love. Kind of like plagiarism.

K.T. Hanna said...

I get my ideas falling asleep and not being able to breathe properly (yeah, I have horrible asthma). I've got some driving through Yellowstone Park.

Then there's the next in line one I got from Facebook... and the current one I'm working on that I have no idea where it came from.

I've never been to a mascot bowl, but I do go to my nephew's football games, neice's ballet recitals and out with my friends.

Tomorrow I got to the RenFaire... I'm anticipating ideas ;)

Donna K. Weaver said...

I've never even heard of a Mascot Bowl, but I'm sad now that I didn't. What a fun event that must have been.

There's so much going on around us all the time that's food for a story. Thanks for the reminder, Elana.

Btw, I'm working on my first ever query letter and your resource "From the Query to the Call" is phenomenal. Thanks so much for giving so much to this writing community.

ilima said...

Your Monday night mascot bowl experience proves what happens in real life trumps anything we can come up with sitting in front of the computer screen. I love it. I have a disproportionate amount of writing ideas from dreams. Does that count as real life?

Carolyn V said...

A mascot bowl? Serious? I would have totally attended that. lol! So cool!

Abby said...

That looks like so much fun! I'm cheering for the USU Bull all the way! That's my school. WHOOO!

Paul Greci said...

My ideas...real life...wilderness trips...in the classroom...my own crazy life when I was a teen...and no, I have never been to a Mascot Bowl :-)

Emily said...

Yes. Real life. I agree. I think aspects of our life--no matter how boring we think they are--make it into our writing.

Also, who knew mascots could kick a ball?

Tere Kirkland said...

Great pics! I always say I get inspired when riding public transportation. There's always something going on on the bus, streetcar, at the bus stops, out the windows, etc.

Fun post. Have a great weekend!

Sara B. Larson said...

Ha ha, I didn't know about that. Looks like fun! Go Cosmo! ;)

And yes, you have to live life to be able to write about it. I agree.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Yeah, I'm like you. My ideas literally just fall out of my brain. Getting ideas has never been a problem, getting them down on paper before they get away from me is the issue.

Alice said...

Looks like fun.

Sarah Allen said...

Brilliant! So, so true. I actually heard Orson Scott Card once say that if you wanted to be a writer, the best major is history, not english, because then you have something to write about other than writing. Not sure I fully agree with that one, but I definitely agree that living life and experiencing things is a must. Essential. Imperative. Yeah.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Patti said...

Never been to a mascot bowl.

My last idea came from a name and a news story.

Jenilyn Tolley said...

I like the word unitard a lot. Also, biketard is pretty awesome.

I have never been to a mascot bowl, but it looks like so much fun! I might have to find one to go to. (And make sure that my gloves match my biketard/unitard should I ever decide to wear the two of them together.)

Matthew MacNish said...

I've pretty much already lived a crazy life, so I just mine things from my past.

Heather said...

I've never been to a Mascot Bowl but it sounds awesome! Breaks from writing to enjoy real life are a must, I totally agree! Whenever I can I go for walks with the hubby, hikes, movies, and squeeze in time to ride my horse. I do my best to spend as much time away from my writing as I do on it. Now if only the days were longer...

Kelly Polark said...

Ha ha . Unitard.

I think I take too many breaks to enjoy my life. And that is another reason my second mg is not done yet. But I'm okay with it. It will get done when it gets done. (and I'm doing Nano in Nov so that will be a swift kick in my writer's pants)

Lindsay said...

That looked fun!

I totally agree about taking breaks from writing. I go for walks, watch tv, read. I also love spending time with my goddaughter.

Marsha Sigman said...

I do use the word 'tard a lot but just in a loving reference about my husband...

I totally agree with you!

Krispy said...

I didn't know they HAD mascot bowls! Amazing!

Agree with you on the whole thing. I usually get my best ideas when I'm not thinking about anything in particular. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh, my goodness. That looks like it was awesome!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most of my ideas have come from movies. Since I'm in a dry spell, maybe I should get out and live a little more.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

So, I completely agree. Nothing kicks up creative juices like living an awesome life. :)

Martha Ramirez said...

You are so right! Sometimes we get so much into writing and the real life passes by.

LOL Interesting green men.

Angie said...

That looks so totally fun! And the green drummers are...creepy. Lots of story ideas there!

Randy said...

I don't run into too many curious happenings as this. Fortunately, my mind is pretty loosely connected to reality and I generate enough story ideas regardless of what I'm doing.

Angela Brown said...

I can not tell a lie...this time :-)
I have not been to a mascot bowl. Looks interesting though.

It would be hard to get ideas just sitting at the computer all day. Life often deposits interesting ideas into your mind. But you have to be willing to visit the bank of "outside and beyond your computer" for those fits of fancy to hit you.

Miranda Hardy said...

Can't say I've been to one, but it sounds great. Love those pictures. I get my ideas from all over...research, photos, nature, dreams.

LynNerd said...

Those unitard dudes are something else! Wild and weird. And how nervy to show up with gloves that don't match the outfit? Funny! I agree that real life is stranger than fiction and I always get ideas from real people and events. Seems like the ideas just never stop with all the strange things and people in the world. Thanks for the chuckles.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I've never been to a mascot bowl Elana. Looks like loads of fun.

Funny, I've been posting a lot about living your life lately.

For three years I stayed glued to the computer for sixteen hours a day. Until I HAD ENOUGH. I took by life back, lost the fifty plus pounds I had put on and write after I take my power walks on Chicago's lakefront.

I get amazing ideas while walking and it clears my mind to write in the afternoon when I return.

Great advice, Writers need to live and move about to keep their creativity flowing.

Have a great weekend.

ansindt said...

Hey...that was in Lehi=) Those are always fun to go to! Excited to see you at the Provo Library=)

Christa said...

I love the idea of a Mascot Bowl. I'm so jealous. I would like to host one at our next block party. I hope for the love of cheese that you somehow include this in a book somewhere.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I've never heard of a mascot bowl, but the one you went to looks like a lot of fun. And YES, life first. If you're not out in the world, I think your writing lacks a certain element of believability and completeness.

Leslie Rose said...

Mascot bowl *slaps knee and snort laughs* I have to find one. It is my quest.

Elle Strauss said...

that's it-- the word unitard is going in my next book. or leotard, also a weird word. ;)

anonymeet said...

I MUST FIND A MASCOT BOWL TO ATTEND!

Ideas really do come from everywhere, don't they?

Donelle Lacy said...

That's awesome, Elana. There's just something about being outdoors and watching people in animal costumes play sports. (I've only seen people in animal costumes at conventions.)

I agree with this post whole-heartedly. I get some ideas when I'm playing with my nephews. People have to live!

Kamille Elahi said...

I love the pictures! Your life certainly does look like fun. This is going to sound stupid but what is a mascot bowl?

Liesl Shurtliff said...

I don't recall ever having been to a mascot bowl, but the green dudes are freaky.

I get my ideas from questions, things that bother me, and the "what if?"

And somehow folding laundry, doing dishes, and running generate a lot of ideas.

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