The Journal: How Do You Get So Many Ideas?

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* PQ Topic: How Do You Get So Many Ideas?
* The current story
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” J.K. Rowling via The Passive Voice

“The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking.” Farnam Street blog, in an article titled “How to Think: The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught.”

It dawns on me that at one time, university was where one went to be taught how to think. Now university is where students are taught what to think.

PQ Topic: How Do You Get So Many Ideas?

Today I’m presenting the first in what will probably be a series of PQ Topics. The PQ stands for Prevalent Questions, those questions writers ask that never seem to go away.

In these posts, I’ll discuss how I respond to PQs from writers and would-be writers and/or how I handle the question in my own writing. I hope some of you will find this interesting. If you’d like me to talk about a particular PQ, email me at

The prevalent topic question for today is “How do you get so many ideas?”

Cause: This is a direct result of thinking ideas are golden. And it’s silly.

I’m not going to presume anything. I’m going to start with a big IF:

IF you write regularly—IF “writer” is who you are, meaning writing is what you do—then story ideas really are a dime a million. You’re probably overwhelmed with them. And if you are, good for you. Like me, you probably stopped writing them down long ago (mostly) because you know another one’s coming along the queue.

Story ideas often occur to me even while I’m actually clacking away at the keys, writing the current story. And this is not something that is unique to me. Every professional writer I know or know-of has written about being deluged with ideas.

In fact, while I was working on my current project yesterday or the day before, I an idea for the 12th novel in the Wes Crowley series occurred to me.

I’ve long wanted to round out that series at a dozen novels, but I couldn’t figure out what to write about. Meaning I felt in my bones (the quiet little creative voice) the story wasn’t quite complete, but I wasn’t sure what was missing.

Well, it simply wasn’t time for me to know, I guess. But the idea came to me a day or two ago. And yes, I scribbled a note about it (at the bottom of the reverse outline for my current WIP), something I don’t usually do.

Usually when ideas occur, I hardly notice them. If I do notice, I think Oh, that would be cool, and then I let it go. Because chances are there will be a dozen more right behind it. That happens to me pretty much all day every day. Again, because “writer” is who/what I am and writing is what I do.

In fact, if you are NOT overwhelmed with ideas, if I were asked to guess (and if I cared) I would assume you are either a would-be writer or a writer who hasn’t yet established a regular writing routine. That or you’re trapped deep in the myths, still wondering where other writers get all those ideas.

And I have to talk a little about writing into the dark here, becuase WITD requires me to trust my creative subconscious. But that’s how I exercise my idea muscle. Every single day. Just as I trust my creative subconscious, my creative subconscious also trusts me.

See, my creative subconscious KNOWS if it gives me an idea, there’s a good chance I’ll actually write the story or novel from it. So it keeps the ideas coming.

Yet I regularly see even professional writers at various places on the internet asking “How do you get so many ideas?” or “Where do you get all those ideas?” or some other version.

And my honest response—when I feel I can BE honest with them (which, frankly, is not often), when I don’t suspect I’ll get dogpiled on and shouted down because I’m not parroting the same old timeworn crap—is always, “How do you not?”

Seriously. If you read and if you write, how do you not get flooded with story ideas?

But let me try to be helpful: If you are not flooded with story ideas, and if you want to be, just trust me on this: Establish a regular reading and writing habit. The ideas will come. Tons of them. I guarantee it. If they don’t, write me and I’ll give you some of mine.

The current story is writing along just fine. For me personally it’s a blast meeting and getting to know the young Rider Jones. Despite his youth, he’s intelligent and attentive of older, wiser people around him. He reminds me a lot of Wes Crowley, and that can only be a good thing.

I should be back tomorrow with another PQ: “How do you know which story idea to write?”

Talk with you again then.

Of Interest

See “Tips For Formatting Your Book” at Take this with a grain of salt. Formatting and publishing needs cost you nothing but a little time.

See “Moore’s Law for Everything” at Long, but maybe worth the time. A thoughtful look at the future.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 910 words

Writing of Rider Jones and Wes Crowley (novella or novel)

Day 1…… 3288 words. Total words to date…… 3288
Day 2…… 5145 words. Total words to date…… 8433
Day 3…… 2732 words. Total words to date…… 11165
Day 4…… 4092 words. Total words to date…… 15257

Total fiction words for May……… 4092
Total fiction words for the year………… 375371
Total nonfiction words for May… 1410
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 86270
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 461641

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 60
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.