However you like to write - if you outline first or play it by ear - you still need to come up with that first idea. So where do they come from? This will be a really, really annoying answer, but: pretty much anywhere.
- Look out your window while you're eating breakfast. Who's out there and why? Where are they going?
- Snap on the news. What's going on in the world?
- Stop for some coffee at your corner shop and eaves drop on a conversation.
- Log onto Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite blog (mine!) and see what's going on.
You could have dozens of story ideas by now, and it's not even 10 a.m.! If you like to be more formal about your idea search, subscribe to one of the many daily writing prompt email lists (see Writers Digest for one possibility). Or check out one of their blogs that I found particularly interesting: 5 Ways to Come Up With Great Story Ideas.
No matter your technique, I challenge you to spend one full day concentrating on all the story ideas around you. Write them ALL down, then sift through them that night. You're likely to ditch a bunch, but you just may find that golden nugget. (And let me know how it goes!)