Where do I get my ideas from? I haven’t really thought about this aspect of writing until today. I have always left the generation of ideas to chance and expected something would come along when I’ve needed it.

I see myself as a gatherer, a gleaner, foraging for anything that attracts my attention, that pulls me out of the ordinary and takes me elsewhere – an observation, a picture, a feeling. I like ideas that pop up out of nowhere, while I might be doing or thinking one thing and suddenly there it is, demanding my attention.

I usually find ideas come to me when I have no agenda, no pressure to do anything other than ‘be’ – walking the dog, sitting in a cafe, staring at the sea, visiting a new city on holiday. Sometimes I just take a walk through the National Gallery and visit my favourite paintings and an idea will pop into my head.

I can’t schedule looking for ideas. Searching for ideas at my desk, completely cold, never works for me. I’ve come to realise that being confined to my desk when doing this is a recipe for failure. I find it a very difficult approach to take and it usually ends up with me wasting a lot of time and getting frustrated with myself. Being at my desk is where I develop an idea once I have something to work with. So I gather ideas before I go to the desk.

I have a box of ‘inspiration’ with bits of paper, photos, newspaper clippings, postcards, jottings, all sorts of stuff I have collected. It’s a box of apparently insignificant things that may germinate into something sometime down the line. My whole approach to getting ideas at the moment is quite random and disorganised. I’m not sure if it’s the best way to go about it, but I do have a box of ‘stories’ waiting to be told.