I just saw another thread which began something like this; "Hi, all, I need some help, lol. I've got this great idea for a sci-fi/romance/fantasy/zombie apocalypse novel. I just need some help getting started..." Or, maybe the OP I saw started like this; "Hi, all, I need some help, lol. I really, really want to be a writer and know I can be a good one (all my friends and teachers say I should), but I just can't come up with a good idea..."
These two sentiments--along with a bunch of others that I might go into in another blog--attack my old-fart sensibilities like Quint's fingernails scraping down that blackboard in Jaws. I've been around writing long enough to know that if you find ideas hard to come by, or don't know what to do with them when you do get them, you might as well take up brain surgery because you're never going to be a writer. (Gee whilikers it's nice to say something like that without having to preface it with IMHO. I could get used to this blog stuff.) A writer can come up with a story idea any time. I'm sitting at my desk right now, and I know I can turn in any direction and look at any object in the room (there are lots and lots of objects in my den) and come up with an idea for a story in 30 seconds. I'm not bragging, any writer can do the same thing. It's just a matter of saying, "What if?" For example; I just turned my chair around and looked at the air-hockey table behind me. Sitting there on its white surface are the two red plastic 'hockey sticks' that you hold onto, and whack the puck with, while playing the game. I asked myself; "What if I moved one of those and it left a bright smear of blood on the table top? How did the blood get on it? Why was there no more? Or what if the was? Whose was it? Maybe I just bought the table at an estate sale and found blood on it. What if I started, just for the hell of it, to check out what happened to the previous owner and found out that he died mysteriously, or disappeared. There's a story in there. Ya just gotta dig it up.
The other thing that drives me bug-nuts is not knowing what to do with an idea once you get it. For godsake, folks, translating your ideas into words is what writing is; that's the job, that's the craft. I can understand getting stuck when you write yourself into a corner, I think most of us do that from time to time, but if you can't figure out how to start your story, or where you want to go with it, and you find yourself asking other people what they would do, then you may as well give up now and save yourself a bunch of wasted time. To be a fiction writer is to be a storyteller, and a storyteller doesn't ask his audience what they think should come next. He leads them, chopping and hacking, through the jungle.
Writing is an egotistical pursuit. I'm going on a journey every time I start a new story and I want to take as many readers as possible with me, but it's my journey and I'm not going to stop and ask for directions and I won't tolerate back-seat drivers. This damn bus is mine, so just sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride. I think most writers feel the same way.
Now stop whining, grab an idea by its throat and write the damned story.