My ideas are generated from either being provoked or inspired. This mostly happens when I interact with fine art. It can be anything from an art exhibit, the theatre, a concert, or the movies. At home it’s by reading that I get inspired. My emotional responses trigger ideas that propel me to create stories. I also noticed that I often return from my book club discussions with thoughts, and questions that I ruminate over days, which could also lead to ideas. When I am outraged by a political opinion, or by a traumatic event, I find that my mind thinks of ideas to counter these opinions or to seek solutions to the problems by writing.
Both these extreme emotional responses propel me to write. The words flutter out and I find the ideas flowing. I jot down the initial idea in a paragraph on my computer to tether it to the ground. In the middle of an oversized piece of paper, I encircle the words of the central idea and create a mind map with a pencil. The idea in my mind crystallizes by stressing on the lines and arrows that connect the words and drawing elipses around words. Through this process, I am able to formulate a rough draft which in turn, unwraps several questions that require research. These questions are added to the preliminary text and the answers to those sections are left blank.
Upon completing this version, I put it aside and start devoting my time to research from multiple sources. I try and limit my research time to a couple of days unless I have a shorter deadline. Since I love researching, I must set limits or else I will never stop investigating as my curiosity tends to lead me in several tangential directions. Once I feel full like after a large meal, I filter through my research and choose the sources that are the most credible and that both reinforce and contradict my opinion. Since I am a student I have access to the online university library which has a wider variety of scholarly journals than the World Wide Web. But even when I use the Web, I make sure that the website is trustworthy and dependable.
Within my community of writers, each person has his own routine, and process. Many of us agree that going for a walk, a swim, or mundane chores sometimes help let the mind relax, and ideas come to the surface. Since we always carry our phones with us, phone notes are a handy-way to quickly preserve these thoughts. It’s always good to have some sort of pen and paper handy on the nightstand, to remind us of dreams, and for the ideas that come when we are subdued both before we sleep, and before we wake.
As they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I am similar to my parents and siblings where we all have large home libraries and a love for the fine arts. I found that many of my peers have similar processes and use mind maps, and keep handy their phones for when inspiration comes.