So I do get a bit tired with people, especially poets, sticking with the same old same old. I knew one who went to work on the train and walked his dogs at weekends. ALL his poems were about riding on trains and walking dogs. A clever writer could probably squeeze a fair few metaphors for life, the universe and everything out of such mundane material, and on occasions he did. But there are limits to how much he could surprise or challenge - or to how much he surprised or challenged himself as a writer.
So where do ideas come from? Lots of places. But often from making links between the seemingly unrelated. Not sure if I do this naturally or just trained myself to, but it's been productive. My 'Silence Museum' poem came about simply by mis-hearing Science Museum, but it got me thinking about something I hadn;t thought about before.
Here's an exercise:
- On lined paper, make a list* of subjects you might like to write about - do it quickly and freely without thinking too hard
- Fold the paper vertically so you can't see the list. Forget what you've just written.
- On the same lines, write another list.
- Unfold and see what appears next to each other on a line.
- There'll be a lot of nonsense, but (usually!) one or two marriages will leap out at you - connections zapping between them... acrobatic firemen, coin-operated walking boots, cat scaffold...
Just playing around like this has generated a few nice ideas, especially for short, quirky poems and stories.
Where do YOUR ideas come from?