The question most commonly asked during school visits (aside from how much money do you make) is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Usually it's students asking, but occasionally a brave teacher will speak up over the hum of children who really just want to be running around at recess.
Well here's the answer I would like to give teachers--the in depth, not trying to keep a room full of 7-year-olds engaged version:
Firstly, I get a ridiculous number of ideas while showering. Weird, but not really. For those who have kids, you may be able to relate; for me, the shower is the one almost guaranteed place of quiet in our humble quarters. While showering, I am often able to string at least two semi-related thoughts together without forgetting what I was doing. In fact, the title Sloth VS Turtle was a shower idea. I strung together two thoughts: sloths and turtle. Voila! A book is born! Just remember, you may be shocked when you have your first idea near water...because the whole light bulb thing...see what I did there??
Secondly, I do this thing that annoys my kids and every once in a while makes Ashley laugh. When someone innocently says something like, "That sounded like a turkey singing opera...an opera turkey!" I then say, "Opera Turkey? That was the name of my band in high school!" (Full disclosure, it was me that said all of those things.) Then Ashley will say, "That's a picture book title!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go write that down. NOW!!!" She is VERY serious when it comes to writing things like that down. And that's a good, because like most of my high school band's widely under-appreciated anthems, they are otherwise soon forgotten.
About half my ideas come from thinking up a character or concept and the other half come from thinking up a snappy title first. Either way is fine as long as you commit to the idea.
(You have my permission to type this up in cute font and pin it to your pinterest board--I think that's what the 30 and over crowd is doing these days)
Lastly, here is one for all of the critical readers out there. If you're reading a book (or watching TV) and something happens that you think, LAME! I would have done it this way. Well, quit annoying your couchmate and redo it your way! Aside from Sloth VS Turtle, there are no original ideas anymore. That's why I'm currently plotting out Sloth VS Turtle II through VII. SPOILER ALERT: There is magic, time travel, and a lot of yelling. I digress. Sitting down and thinking you're going to come up with a brand new, completely original idea right then and there--that's how writer's block happens. Find an idea that you love that you can build on (in your own way--we're not plagiarizers after all!) or that you like, but can be improved upon. As plainly stated by Mark Twain, "...all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources..."