I’ve pondered on this for years and am yet to find a convincing answer; primarily because there are no right or wrong answers, just observations when it comes to ideas. So, here’s my assertion:
The best ideas don’t have a source(s), per se. They can come from reading books, blog posts, articles, opinion pieces, podcasts, lectures, emails, hate mails, the difference of opinions, or 1-star reviews. They can also come from random conversations, personal challenges, experiences, irritations, troubles, nature, confidence, depression, and even when you’re in a state of fear or shower or both (Psycho, anyone?)!
The critical bit to remember is that great ideas are almost always born from random and unexpected sources. And more often than not, from bad, mediocre, or even borderline pathetic ideas. Not from the ether. You’ve just got to be a little more aware and alert to notice things while fully expecting ideas to appear, and they will!
And while you’re at it, put aside your ego and be generous about putting your ideas for others to see, read, debate, share, and even generate ideas themselves. No, nobody’s going to steal your thoughts, and it doesn’t matter if you think your ideas suck — what matters is that it may inspire someone else to come up with a better idea(s).