083: Idea Mining

Podcast | craft | writing for children and teens | writing for magazines | Writing nonfiction for children
January 12, 2018

Idea Mining

Where do ideas come from?


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It is a common question that is difficult to answer.

Ideas are elusive and their sources hard to pin down. In her guidebook Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, Jane Yolen, prolific author of more than 300 books for children and young adults, reflects, “How much easier it would be if there were some central warehouse where ideas were stored, waiting to be claimed.”

Alas, this is not the case. Yolen offers the image of writers as idea archeologists. “We gather the forward and backward remnants of our own and others’ histories, mining the final part of that word: histories. What we find there is always a surprise.”


“Generating new ideas isn’t something that can happen in a vacuum. Be aware of the world around you, read the news, pay attention to children and what they are interested in, and think of ways to inform that are fun,” suggests Debra Hess, former Senior Editor at Highlights for Children.

“Listen to and watch the people around you for inspiration,” advises Scholastic Editor Emily Seife.

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas,” says Literary Agent Emily Mitchell (Wernick & Pratt Agency LLC).

For thoughts on Idea Mining and how the more ideas you have, the more great ideas come through, listen to the full episode.

Click here to download the show notes with extra resources!


Jim Gannon
January 16, 2018

I took a course about 20 years ago and really enjoyed! Patrica Hermes was my instructor and she was great!

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