(Look at the ideas exploding around my computer. Oh, ya, the chocolate and coffee help stimulate them!)
I agree with Mr. Steinbeck to a certain extent. We can talk our ideas out and lose the energy for them. We can give too much away. And, sometimes, we need to close our mouths and start writing.
Unless you use the people that you meet as sources for great stories and dialogue. Here's an example.
I went to the drive-thru of Grab-a-Java, where you might think I just want a wham-bam-thank you, ma'am, quick shot to go. To that I would say, you don't know me very well. I'd just brought my cat to the vet because she hadn't been eating for over five days, and I was concerned. I ended up leaving her there for oral surgery - cavities and infection. (Let this be a lesson to all you kids to brush your teeth.) I needed a little pick-me-up. I mentioned this to Carla, the owner, as she leaned out the window. No one was behind me, so we chatted. I told her about my play Coffee Shop Confessions. She had more stories. She witnessed a whole love drama unfold in her little coffee shop - from tryst to break-up, chairs sliding closer together, to being pushed apart.
I told her that on my way home from the She Speaks event in Grand Forks, I had no less than three ideas brewing. (She liked that metaphor.)
Carla said, "You must feel like your head is exploding sometimes."
I said, "Yes, you know that Athena, goddess of wisdom, war and community, was born out of Zeus' head. She's my muse. I feel ideas bursting out of my head."
She laughed. Another car pulled up. I finally ordered my mocha to go and was a wee bit late in getting home to teach a piano student. I blamed it on the cat, at first, then confessed that I had a quick chat with the coffee lady.
Ideas are everywhere. Interesting characters are lurking in waiting rooms, coffee shops, and in check-out lines across the globe. And, how convenient with cell phones, now. I can hear one-sided conversations and piece together the rest of the story.
Carla asked, "How do you know if you have a good idea?"
I said, "I talk about it to people. There are some writers who guard their ideas and don't talk about them. But, I find that when I talk about an idea, I get more ideas and stories, and that's how I know I have a good idea, because so many people can relate to it."
On my trip North for the reading, I packed a couple fun wines. The red is called "Writer's Block." Roxane and I determined that we weren't blocked, so didn't open that one.