Where do you get your ideas from?

Farewell Spit seen from space: 26 km of dunes curling around Golden Bay
Farewell Spit seen from space: 26 km of sand dunes curling around Golden Bay

I wish I had a mansion in Remuera for every time someone asked me this question: “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Usually the answer is — “I don’t know! My head is teeming with ideas. Isn’t yours?”

I think a head teeming with ideas is normal. The difference is that a writer has to trust those ideas. To be curious, run after them, tussle with them, stare at them from every angle, and find the process utterly fascinating.

New writers are inclined to distrust their perfectly good ideas, dismissing them as feeble instead of playing with them until they develop into something exciting, something unique.

In the case of my novel Humming, the core question is very easy to answer. No mystery! I got all the ideas for Humming from an 18-month sojourn in Golden Bay, Nelson, New Zealand! The village where I lived, Puponga, is that brown corner just at the base of the long arm of Farewell Spit. It’s a spectacular, strange, remote place with a unique topography, drenched in atmosphere and crammed with fascinating people.

When you see the images in the PDF below, I hope you’ll see what I mean.

Humming: see what inspired the novel [PDF]

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6 thoughts on “Where do you get your ideas from?

  1. I do my thinking on paper/screen. It usually begins with something I’ve observed. I never know where I’m going to go with it until I write.

    I’m fascinated by the pecha kucha – something I haven’t encountered before.Is it a kind of storyboard in PowerPoint? A way of plotting a story?

    I just googled it. How have I missed this before?!

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  2. With your system, the ideas-pot is always simmering! Pecha kucha was surely invented as an antidote to long boring slide shows with too many words. It can never be boring because it is too short. Our session at the reunion was staggeringly varied and heaps of fun.

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  3. Rachel, at times I think there is a tiny mad person running amuck in the old grey matter… at times it feels like the words bleed from a place deep inside. I’ve learned not to question but instead follow their lead. There are often triggers when I venture about.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Montolieu. It is one of my favourite places and since a friend from London and I will be up in the neighbourhood for the Truffle Festival later this month, it would be uncharacteristic of either of us to be that close and not venture to Montolieu. Lea

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