How many writers does it take to change a light bulb? That question may never be answered, but I do know it only takes one person to find an idea worthy of a light bulb above your head. The beginning of every single novel, short story, poem, or any kind of writing at all starts with the idea. If you are having trouble thinking of the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter, try to think of taking ideas from your own life.

You may not think your life is exciting enough to use for an entire story, but using the most influential experiences can be great jumping off places for scenes of a bigger picture. Things that happen on vacation, holidays, school, or even at home with your siblings can make for a good start to an idea. The best part of using your own experiences is that you yourself have experienced them! The detail will be more realistic and you can even use the feelings you or others have with your characters if you wish.

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any” –Orson Scott Card

One tip from the book I Love to Write by Mary-Lane Kamberg is to ask “what if…” Any good story is based around a starting idea: a person, place, or thing. The starting idea is not the interesting part, but the follow-up question is what makes a reader think. If the main characters in a story are students, what if their teacher was an undercover superhero? If the setting of a story is a cave, what if that cave was known for being haunted?

You can even put both of these ideas together—take ideas from your own life and add a what if!

Look, listen, and remember. Ideas are everywhere.