Where a writer gets his or her ideas can be challenging...or it can be easy. What you need is to be a bit easy on yourself. It'll take a bit of time, you'll need to focus your attention, use your imagination, go equipped with a notebook and pen and trust your creativity.
Well, in a way, yes. Most good writers are curious. They’re forever asking “What is it?” or “What could it be?” or “What if?” From this curiosity comes wonderful ideas, and those ideas come at all times. Day or night. The trick is to get them down on paper to trapped on a recording device. Keep a note pad at your bedside, in your pocket, in your purse is pretty easy, as is having one of those tiny recording devices handy - you may even have one already in your cell phone.
Now. stories don’t generally spring forth full-blown. Usually an idea or a premise precedes them. A word can spark an idea. Jot it down, more words will follow. When I say 'jot it down' I mean I find it most productive for my way of writing to actually drop words on paper or type into a computer. There's just something about seeing words progress across the page, be it computer screen or notebook, that triggers the flow of more words. For me, that's how it works. If you have another method, by all means, use that.
So where do the actual ideas come from?
“What if” is one gate to a magical world.
“What if” vampires were not dark and evil, but good, strong and protectors of the human race? Check out Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series of romances. What if a young boy in winning a video game wins the war against aliens attacking earth? Check out Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and the series that follows. What if Bears once ruled the earth and the conscious memory of that time is returning to them – hey go write that one for yourself.
Remember the seed of an idea can be a beginning. Some writers need to map out their entire book or script before they begin. Others work best on the fly. Writing, generating a story, creates many of its own surprises. If you’re the kind who works best on the fly you’ll find your characters will take on lives of their own and they’ll surprise you with where they take the story you begin. This happens with those who ‘map their course’ as well. There's no escape from imagination. Try to cage it and it just gets unruly on you.
You might see a photo in a magazine or the newspaper that triggers some ideas. Clip it out. Put it where you can see it. See what ideas might come.
You might overhear a phrase spoken in public. Write it down. Think about what it might mean, who said it, what the context is. Does it make you feel there is something going on there, something not visible on the surface? Pursue it. Jot down notes. Some of the most disjointed notes come together to form ideas and from ideas spurts of creative inspiration. Ideas are everywhere, just open your eyes - observe people, daydream, read--a lot.
Here are a couple of sites to give you a hand. Need a prompt, something to give you a shove - visit Creative Writing Prompts. Or visit the blog of the Story Ideas Virtuoso. You might get a bit of a shove there.
As Ray Bradbury once said, “You don’t build a story, you allow it to explode.” I’m kinda with Ray.