God alone has original ideas that come from nothing. Humans do not share this ability. Solomon declared,
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.” Eccl 1:9-10, NIV
If you are a writer desperate for a new original idea, don’t frustrate yourself trying to produce it from nothing. Even the most amazing breakthroughs are combinations of existing elements. We create from what we have. Only God creates from nothing. Sometimes new ideas are things previous generations possessed, but lost and forgot. Someone finds it again, and it’s hailed as original but it’s only new to our generation.
God the Creator creates out of nothing. We need something to create from. Original ideas are derived from the knowledge we already possess. Every conversation, news story and experience contains fodder for an idea. Most of the time God guides us to ideas through the everyday occurrences of life, which means ideas can be found everywhere.
I was reading a bedtime story about the birth of Isaac to my four-year-old granddaughter when I decided to be spiritual. Her family recently expanded to include a baby brother. I told her that God gave Isaac to Abraham’s family just like God gave Brayden to her family.
She said, “Ah, Grandma, we got him from the hospital.”
That would be a great opening story for a non-fiction essay about the origins of life or a fiction story about adult-child relationships.
As hurricane Katrina neared the shores of Louisiana the owners of St. Rita’s Nursing Home decided moving the residents posed a greater risk than remaining. They built the home on high ground that had never flooded in previous hurricanes, which made their decision to stay reasonable.
Thirty-five residents drowned. National news covered the trial for two years before the owners were acquitted of negligent homicide. There is a lot of fodder in that story to write about. By that time publishers were no longer interested in Katrina books.
While interviewing a pastor in St. Bernard parish he told me they went to St. Rita’s Nursing Home weekly before Katrina. He knew the name of everyone who drowned and knew for a fact they had prayed to receive salvation. That is an inspirational story. I had the interest of an agent, but he later declined. If I wrote fiction, I could have turned the basic idea of God preparing people to meet him into an inspirational fiction story. I turned it into a 1,500 word nonfiction story for my blog.
My husband and I were packing to bring our granddaughter to Disney for her 7th birthday. I left my Bible at home. How would I find a quiet time to read the Bible and pray with a 7-year-old bouncing around the room in a hurry to get to the fun? I have learned enough about God to know I would not offend him if I devoted a week to my husband and granddaughter, so I left God at home.
First day at Disney, I spotted a young girl wearing a camouflaged shirt with “GOD WANTS YOU IN HIS ARMY” emblazoned across the back.
The following day, we were returning from Downtown Disney in the crowded bus provided for Disney patrons. The excited children sitting next me were having difficulty keeping their bottoms in their seats. After a young girl bounced out of her seat for the third time, I heard a stern voice say, “CHURCH BEHAVIOR!”
The next day we were waiting for the bus and I looked up to see a G and an O in the sky. As the skywriter circled his plane around to begin the next letter, my husband and I debated what the letter would be.
“T,” I smugly announced. “I bet it’s an advertisement for some product. He’s gonna write GOT.”
The next letter was “D”, followed by a plus sign, and then “U” followed by an equal sign, and finally a happy face. GOD PLUS YOU EQUAL A HAPPY FACE.
The next day, I took a nap while Rod and my granddaughter went swimming. An hour later the phone rang. “There was an unscheduled cleaning at the pool and your husband has moved to the pool in the Casitas area.” I hung up wondering why a strange woman delivered a message about MY husband.
When he returned, I inquired what was wrong with the Lost City of Cibola pool. “Someone pooped in the pool,” he said. “The woman who called you is the children’s pastors at her church. Alicia wanted to play with her daughter so we moved to another pool.”
The last day of vacation, I sat on a bench to rub my sore feet and looked up at the clear blue sky to see a faded “JESUS LOVES U.” The skywriter had just completed “PRAISE” and was working on a “J” which became “PRAISE JESUS!”
Everywhere I went Christians and messages about God’s love. My decision to put God out of mind for a week proved impossible. And that experience became an article about the inescapable presence of God.
Where can you find ideas? Everywhere. Grab raw material from life’s experiences and start writing.