Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

“Where do you get your ideas?”

This question was reportedly posed to Stephen King at a writers conference in New England.

His answer may seem harsh, but it’s illuminating: “If you have to ask, don’t become a writer.”

Most working writers have little trouble coming up with ideas. In fact, most have more ideas for writing projects than they could possibly complete in a lifetime.

Ideas can come from anywhere: from lessons you have learned, from difficulties you have overcome; from hobbies or memories; from something you’ve read or someplace you’ve visited; from a distinctive accent or anecdote you overhear on the bus or in the grocery store; from asking “what if?” or “why not?” as well as many, many more places.

The first book I ever completed, a teen novel titled They Call Me AWOL, was based on my own experiences as a high-school truant who skipped his first two-and-a-half years of high school but who, when his girlfriend from church found out, had to squeeze four years’ worth of classes into the next two-and-a-half (the girlfriend is now my wife of forty-two years).

Long ago, because I’m a Shakespeare nut, I created my own daily flip calendar that paired a short quote from Shakespeare’s works with a corresponding or contrasting verse from the King James Version of the Bible (which was produced in the same era, country, and city by men who knew each other). One morning as I flipped to a new page, I thought, Why haven’t I pitched this as a one-year devotional? The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional was the result.

The idea for my novel The Bone Box  came from a news article about an archaeological discovery. My historical novels Northkill and The Return are based on events in my family’s history. My nonfiction books Life Stinks…And Then You Die and How to Survive the End of the World arose out of my reading and study in the Bible books of Ecclesiastes and Revelation, respectively.

Ideas are all around you, if you just pay attention. Where have you found your best ideas?


Leave a Comment

Why I Write: 20 Reasons

Different people write for different reasons. Some for money. Some for fame. Some for posterity, and some for popularity. John, the author of the fourth Gospel, said he wrote “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life …

Read More

Dealing with Bad Publishing News

Remember the media principle of “if it bleeds it leads,” which means bad news or salacious headlines are designed to grab our attention. When authors are constantly barraged by bad news, it can be demotivating at the very least. I’m sure sales for your book could be better. I’m with …

Read More

A Writer’s Hymn

A Writer’s Hymn (based on and drawing from a hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal)   Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy …

Read More

My Favorite Blog Comments

If you’re reading these words, you’re probably aware of the richly informative and entertaining blog posts the agents of the Steve Laube Agency post daily (Monday-Friday). I’m constantly amazed by the wealth of free and valuable information my colleagues share (and I pitch in every Wednesday with some drivel of …

Read More

Memorial Day

Today in the U.S. we honor the veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice and died in the military for our country. It is an important day of remembrance. Some interesting quotes to ponder in light of this day: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should …

Read More

Merry Christmas!

 Tomorrow, December 21, is the feast day of Saint Thomas. Here is a suggested reading from The Book of Common Prayer: But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto …

Read More

4 Keys to Creativity

Maybe you’re not one of those writers who sometimes says (or thinks), “I’m just not very creative.” But you may sometimes be jealous of others’ creativity. Or wish at times that you were more so. Join the club. We could all use at least a little more creativity in our …

Read More

Writers Give to Others

My hope is that this headline is true. While the writing profession (or obsession as some describe it) is a solitary one, it is in giving to others where its impact can be felt.


The gift of time is precious as we are given a finite amount in this life. To mentor another writer. To blog freely. To teach at a conference or school setting. All are example of a beautiful way to both give and receive.


To use your talent to its fullest is a gift to others. To hone that talent so that it crescendos into the heart of a reader should be the goal of every writer. This talent must be shared. To hoard it for oneself would be a travesty and tantamount to the deadly sin of greed.

Read More