This is never something I’ve had a problem with. I’m not saying they’re all terribly good ideas. Some are downright awful in fact. I have files full of half baked ideas, stories I’ve started and haven’t gone anywhere, characters, titles even – with no stories to go with them – but I’ve never hit a spot where I’ve thought “I’m all out of idea’s”.
How do I do it? Well, part of it is, as I said before, reading a lot, which is good for inspiration. A lot of the time I can be reading a book and I’ll be hit by many ideas. This does NOT mean I rip them off! Some ideas I will add to some current piece of work, which may take it in some new direction, or I may formulate a new story. It doesn’t matter about the genre, or the form (though I’ve never been a particularly good poet), but I’ll store it in the background there. Or I’ll note them down. Noting things down is also an excellent idea. It may seem obvious, but if you keep a dedicated notebook for ideas, then you can leave things in there for months, and upon returning to your hastily scribbled notes, trying to decipher what you originally meant can lead to yet more ideas!
Of course the best way of generating ideas is immersing yourself in media. Read lots, listen to a lot of music, watch movies, watch TV (though stay away from soap opera’s and “reality”), just allow your brain to absorb everything you see hear, feel, smell, taste…
And don’t be afraid of writing, well, crap! Among the many half baked ideas I’ve had along the way I have a story about a guy who can move through mirrors, something about this cultist church floating on the ocean, and a story about a massive department store that you can never leave, mainly due to the ‘light bombs’ that surround the exits.
None of it is any good, but moving through the daft stuff will lead you down paths to the good stuff. So yes, write away, write anything you think of, and out of the tangle will come ideas you would never have thought of just trying to think of ideas. Read, watch, absorb, plunder and plagiarise.
But if anyone steals my mirror man idea, expect lawsuits…