If I was to ask somebody; What is the best source of inspiration for writing a horror-themed short story, a majority of people would tell me to draw inspiration from books, other short stories, and even films. I understand that that many people have heeded this advie, as these are commonly labelled the best sources of inspiration.
Reading already existing works can do a number of things for an aspiring writer. Yes, it can motivate them, but it also has far worse consequences. It can also convince somebody that they are not good enough. I have seen many times where people (including myself) have read a story, or watched a film, and thought to themselves Well my story will never be as good as that'. I understand that not ever writer thinks that, which brings the other possible outcome into play. That is; my idea is not original enough'. When looking for inspiration in completed stories, one will most probably form their own ideas for their own story around that which they have already read. This detracts from originality, and this is why many fail in their writing attempts, as many of their stories are filled with cliches or are too similar to an already popular story (of course I'm not talking about JtK...).
You must be wondering where I draw my inspiration from?
Well, I'll tell you seeing as though you asked.
I think the best inspiration comes from real life experiences, and dreams.
Real Life Experiences: We can experience many scary situations in our lives. Our mind can twist and form any experience into a horrifying story if we let it. Most people pass this mind-wandering off and hypochondria or completely unrealistic, which are generally both true. But what if we expand on this? What if we allow our mind to wander, and what if we listen to it and take note of it? What if we begin to twist the story and outcome on our own? Then, in a short amount of time, you have created a number of synopses that could potentially work well as a story. All you need is an OC and a plot that revolves around this idea you have created.
I know it's all a bit confusing, so I'll be kind and give an example. One time, a few years ago, I had planned to go out hunting with a good friend and his cousin (who we will call John), somebody I had never met. Anyway, in the last second my friend pulled out because he was unwell. I was already on my way to our destination, and it just so happens that the property we were planning to hunt on was owned by John. I was still welcome to go out hunting with John, and so I did. Anyway, we went out hunting, and let me tell you that this John was a bit 'different'. He was just the stuck up, crazy kind of person that you didn't really trust with a gun, but he was harmless. But still, I kept thinking What if this guy is a serial killer or something? (no I didn't actually believe he was, I was just letting my mind wander). He kept saying other things that were just wrong, and my mind drew up many different reasons as to why. I just stored all this in my mind and decided to use this amalgam of those thoughts to create a story.
The result is Please Be Careful, which I recently posted onto the site, despite writing it years ago. And absolutely no inspiration was taken from another text!
Dreams: Because I am fairly new to this site, I don't have an example for this. But I personally think it's one of the best sources of inspiration. I like to write down my dreams in a journal, especially the nightmares, and that can create some pretty terrifying and awesome ideas for a story. One of my WIP stories was taken directly from a recent nightmare that I had. I do need to edit it a bit to make it a little more original, but the key idea is still derived from a dream, not another story or a film.
Anyway, thats just my opinion on what the best sources of information are, and how my train of thought works. I'm not disapproving of anybody's ideas or opinions, I'm just saying that I personally believe the best source of inspiration and creativity is your own mind. What do you think is the best source of information? How does your train of thought work when you are creating a story?