One of the things that non-writers find it hardest to grasp is that ideas are not the problem. Its worse when you come head to head with someone who perhaps doesn't read all that much, or does not read in the speculative fiction area. You start rabbiting on about your book, and ten minutes after you should have stopped (about the time that glazed look appeared), they stop and ask 'But where do you get your ideas from?' or 'And you make all that up?'
My Dad was as black and white as they come. He was a policeman for more than forty years and imagination was not his strong point. Time and again he would fix me with a perplexed look, the frown of concentration would appear and he would say, 'And you make it all up?' Ahh, yes Dad. 'But where do you get all the ideas from?' He could just not concieve that I could do it.
As most writers know - the ideas are not the problem. Its the craft, the packaging into a vehicle for them i.e. a story. The problem tends to be TOO MANY ideas - pocket books overflowing, scraps of paper with tiny scrawls etc.
After too much frustration with this response I started telling people that I subscribed to the Idea of the Month Club. Yes, there was this woman in Sydney who would send out a newsletter packed with ideas for a modest fee. I thought it would be amusing when they got the joke - but the sad thing is these people actually believed it! Then I felt terrible misleading them. Sigh.
But the other thing writers know is that the flow of ideas has its own rhythm, and can sometimes be very lean indeed. The whole creative font seems to run to its own strange designs. I know that getting inspired by books and film really tends to get my creative juices going. Reading books on topical science really gets the SF ideas flowing.
What ways do you use to get inspire the flow of ideas?