(Originally posted on the Ink Jerkers blog on 4 July 2019.)
This is the question one of my favorite webcomic artists, Adam Casalino, recently set out to answer in a three-part article on his website:
It's a question writers hear a lot. I've touched upon the subject myself in the past. My own answer tends to be shorter: from life, dammit. Go forth and live. Find things to love and hate. Learn. Grow. Love and lose. And yes, take the time to think about it all. One hour spent in a park now and then, away from noise, agitation and worries, is a basic necessity of life. Decide what's important to you, and write about that, in your own way. If it speaks to yourself when you read it again, it will speak to others just as loudly.
But no, don't waste time reading stuff you don't like. We live in an age of plenty. Rest assured that you can find all the variety you need and more without having to torture yourself in the name of "being cultured". Oh, and if you forget an idea before writing it down? It probably wasn't so great in the first place. Good ideas tend to come back like cats. Just leave the door open.
I spent years exploring the concept of freedom in various stories, under two different pen names. It all culminated in a novel, that failed to sell, and for the next 18 months I barely wrote any fiction at all. Disappointment was a factor. Life, too. But mostly, having asked every question I could think of and found my answers, it took time to decide what was the next big thing that mattered to me as much.
These days, it's probably belonging, a concept tightly bound to freedom as it turns out. My recently completed novella opened the floodgates again, in addition to being my best work yet. All it takes now is to find a break among all my other creative projects.
Ideas are the one thing I have in excess. And my life has been terribly boring in recent years. What's your excuse?