Where do your ideas come from?

I finally know how to answer that question.

I spent the weekend at the California Crime Writers Conference, an event I’ve helped organize for the past several years. Today’s keynote speaker was SJ Rozan, a woman who is not only an incredible writer but a genuinely kind soul. Yesterday, she gave me a present.

She didn’t know she gave me a present, mind you. It didn’t come wrapped, but nonetheless, I am going to pack it in my purse for every upcoming speaking engagement, workshop and interview. She put into words where my ideas – and the ideas of most writers – come from.

I have never – not once – been able to answer that question to anyone’s satisfaction, including my own. Ideas just come. Not all at once but a steady stream that I can access at all but the worst times. Let me tell ya, no reader wants to hear that ideas don’t come that they just are – except maybe Buddhist readers. And potheads. The potheads really seem to get that.

SJ, however, put it into words the rest of us can appreciate. What she said is true for me. It’s true for a lot of writers I know. Your mileage may vary.

She said (and I’m paraphrasing):

Stories live in the same subconscious part of our brains responsible for our dreams. Writers are the people with the ability to access the subconscious with our conscious minds.

Yes. Yes, that’s it exactly.

Thank you, SJ.