"Where do you get your ideas from?" has to be one of the most common questions I’m asked. I also suspect that many other writers and artists get asked this question or something similar.
First of all, it may be useful to consider that those of us who are creative individuals are not linear thinkers. The truth is, that we have a swimming pool of ideas and there are a lot of things floating around in our brains. Research has shown that creative types tend to make connections that the general population doesn’t see because the average person files information into rigid categories.
My guess (and I can’t say for sure, because I’m not the person who asks this question) is that some people believe there’s a formula for creativity. However, when things become formulaic they tend to be more predictable and therefore less creative. So showing a diagram that explains X leads to Y leads to Z means that the idea was logical in origin and not creative. I think this is why creative individuals have a difficult time answering the question. If there's a formula or rule for creativity, it's that you need to break formulas and rules in order to come up with something that's not predictable.
Sure, there are times when I can say that I read a book or saw a painting that started an idea germinating in my mind. But then that seed grows and there are so many other things fertilizing that idea and some of the fertilizer is decades old. It makes it difficult to specifically state the source.
So if you want to know where my ideas come from, here’s a list of what’s swimming in the pool of my mind from which I draw:
Literature (I read a lot and always have)
People (both personal interactions as well as generic people watching )
Art (paintings, photography, dance, music, etc.)
There are many mothers of invention. In fact, my brain is like the Room of Requirement in the Harry Potter books. I’m not usually short on ideas - just on time to develop them.