I’ve been doing a lot of teaching on the idea of ideas lately and came across these excellent quotes.

• People always want to know: Where do I get my ideas? They're everywhere. I'm inspired by people and things around me. (Gwendolyn Brooks, American poet)

• My standard answer is "I don't know where they come from, but I know where they come to, they come to my desk." If I'm not there, they go away again, so you've got to sit and think. (Philip Pullman, English writer)

• Ideas come to a writer, a writer does not search for them. "Ideas come to me like birds that I see in the corner of my eye," I say to journalists, "and I may try, or may not, to get a closer fix on those birds." (Patricia Highsmith, American crime writer)

• It's very blurred, it's not clear. The plan is something which gradually evolves. Usually, I'll just start with one particular idea or certain image or even just a mood and gradually it'll kind of grow when other things attach themselves to it. (Jane Rogers, British novelist, editor, and teacher)

• Anything can set things going--an encounter, a recollection. I think writers are great rememberers. (Gore Vidal, American novelist, playwright, essayist)

• You can write about anything, and if you write well enough, even the reader with no intrinsic interest in the subject will become involved. (Tracy Kidder, literary journalist)

• "From you," I say. The crowd laughs. I look at the woman asking the question; she seems innocent enough. I continue. "I get them from looking at the world we live in, from reading the paper, watching the news. It seems as though what I write is often extreme, but in truth it happens every day." (A. M. Homes, American novelist and short story writer)

• My usual, perfectly honest reply is, "I don't get them; they get me." (Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist, playwright,

and critic

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Light against the dark

I recently taught a section on humour as part of a creative writing course I am running. Let me say at the outset that I know humour can be scary for a writer who does not have a naturally comic ability. It is certainly the case that a straight-laced, humourless person might well struggle to write side-splitting comedy but if you are an author, that might not be a good enough excuse.Why? Because even if you are not writing an out-and-out comic piece, humour has a role to perform. It can perform…See More
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