Need Story Ideas? Try autocorrect

“Where do you get your ideas?” I heard this question asked at every author panel I attended this past Balticon. We all want to know the secret password to the wellspring, don’t we? Before I started writing fiction, I used to believe that I could never get original, smart, or exciting ideas about which to write. I believed that everything my beleaguered subconscious shot out at me would be tired, overdone, and boring. And then, I realized the inherent fallacy in that thought pattern. Our minds are always working. Whether we are awake or asleep, they are functioning. Either they are absorbing input from our senses when we are awake, or they are processing and filing that input away while we sleep. Like the heart, which never stops until it does, the mind is on duty 24/7.

We process incredible amounts of data every second. The colors of book covers on the shelf in front of us, the sound of a clock, the whir of machines, the trills of birds or crickets, television, cars backfiring, cats purring – they are all part of the data we observe and absorb. And they can be useful, crucial even, in how inspiration strikes.

Yesterday, as I was walking my dog, I viewed my calendar to remember the date and time of an upcoming school visit. See, in my other life, I am the Earth Lady. I work with schools to teach students about the Earth and STEM subjects. My last visit of this school year is in mid-June. I will be working with a sixth grade match class to teach them about satellite imagery and Earth’s land cover. When I titled the event, I called it, “Pixel and GPS,” or so I thought. When I went back to check, autocorrect had mangled it to, “Pixel and Goss.”

Those two words stayed with me. I kept walking but pondered the words. “These are a title,” I thought, but I had no idea what the title named.

“They’re characters,” I thought a minute later. “One is named Pixel and the other is Goss.”

Then, because I was walking and my mind had the opportunity to wander, I let it play with what those two words conjured up. That is a fantastic way to let the creativity flow. Don’t judge or discount anything that comes. Just see what bubbles up from that every-busy subconscious. What sorts of images or characteristics does the word Pixel conjure? In my mind, it brings up computers, graphics, monitors, the internet, and technology.

So, Pixel will have to have something to do with all that.

Goss was a little tougher since the word feels nonsensical. But still, it conveys some thoughts. Goss could be short for gossamer. And gossamer makes me think of fairy or angel wings. Goss will somehow be aligned with the fairies or with angels.

And right after that, the idea for “The Adventures of Pixel and Goss,” showed up on my mind’s doorstep. Look for their first story coming soon.

And that is how some mangled autocorrect wording gave me the idea for a new young adult series. So, how about you? Would you be willing to try it? If I give you a few words, try to free-associate some sparks from them. See what that ever-busy mind of yours brings up for you.

Here are your three words.

Before you make choices, let the thoughts flow. Are these people? Are they pieces of equipment? Are they places? Give yourself permission to wonder about them and write up what comes up. From there, I’ll be you will start your next tale. And if you do, please drop me a line and let me know. And just remember, keep your eyes and ears open, and the ideas will flow.

Sending you all of my love.

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