by Carole Lindstrom

The very first thing I want to begin by saying is that NO idea is a bad idea or a ridiculous idea. NONE. So put that thought out of your head immediately. Those ideas are gems and kernels of stories that can become stand-alone stories one day, or bits and smatterings of stories tomorrow. So, promise yourself, and me, before I go any further that you will keep EVERY idea you come up with!! Deal? Deal!!! I’m proud of you already!!

I want to spend some time talking to you about where I get my ideas and perhaps that will give you some thoughts or insights into places that you can mine for your ideas.

I want to add that ideas rarely come to me when I sit down to come up with story ideas, if that makes any sense. My best ideas usually come rushing at me when I’m in the middle of doing other things. But I always make sure I leave my mind open to letting in new ideas. And definitely keep a notebook with you or use your notebook app on your phone to write them down, because I can never remember them when I tell myself that I will. Get in the habit of writing them down as soon as soon as they flow into your brain.

To be honest, most of my ideas with reading the news and/or current events on social media. Seeing what is going on in the world almost always sparks my creative juices to flow.

And then I usually start asking the questions:

WHY? Why is that thing that way? Why did that happen? Why didn’t anyone do anything about it? Why did someone do something?


HOW? How did that happen? How could no one have done anything about that? How did that thing do that?


WHO? Who was involved? Who did it? Who did something about it? Who could have done something about it but didn’t?

I tend to be drawn to writing stories that deal with environmental or social issues. So, what gets the ideas really popping in my brain is reading the news. Any type of story about environmental or social injustices would certainly be something I would read. If that isn’t your thing, and even if it isn’t, read things that you are interested in. Follow blogs and Facebook people/places that represent things that you find important or interesting. Their posts often spur ideas in me, as well. Oftentimes I find that the articles spark further questions in my mind. Or I want the article to go deeper, ask deeper questions, pick away at the real issues. And that’s where I, or you, come in. With the questions.

My mom always used to tell me that I was always asking “WHY?” as a kid. It seems to have followed me throughout my life and has come in handy as an author. Especially an author for children. Because aren’t they also always asking “WHY?”

I hope you find this helpful in some way. Enjoy the process.

Aapiji go Miigwech, Carole

Carole Lindstrom is an Anishinaabe/Métis author, and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians. She writes books for children and young adults. Her debut picture book, Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle, was published with Pemmican Publishers in 2013. Drops of Gratitude, is included in the anthology, Thank U: Poems of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul and Illustrated by Marlena Myles, (Lerner/Millbrook – Fall 2019). We Are Water Protectors, inspired by Standing Rock, and all Indigenous Peoples’ fight for clean water, illustrated by Michaela Goade, (Roaring Brook Press – March 2020). Circles, is included in the anthology, Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith, (Heartdrum – Feb 2021). She is represented by Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Carole lives with her family in Maryland. Visit her online at

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