The answer to that question is ‘everywhere’.
It’s not that we simply pluck them out of the air, and, heaven forbid we should ever steal one, but they are out there all the time, we just have to know how to exploit them.
I recently read an interview with China Mieville in which he was rather good on the subject of ideas. I agree with him that it helps to be unselfconscious; it helps to think like a child, and being enthusiastic is certainly a good thing.
The real trick, though, is to keep feeding your brain.
The key to having ideas, the key to thinking, and one of the keys to success is to be engaged with the world, to be interested in what’s going on around us. The World is an interactive place; there are endless opportunities to live in it, either directly, by being around interesting people, or indirectly, via the internet.
The tools of our lives and work are only as good as the people using them, though. The internet will eat your life away if you let it, but it is also an amazing resource. I don’t spend time looking for footage of kittens on YouTube, or playing Farkle on FaceBook. I do, though, spend short bursts of time on Twitter where I follow thinkers and writers, and try to take an interest in the things that interest them.
I buy the weekend papers, the broadsheets, not the redtops, and not just to do the Sodukos, and as much as possible, I surround myself with intelligent people and ask them the tough questions. If I have the opportunity to talk to someone interesting, I take it; I stick my hand out and introduce myself, while quietly hoping that I don’t scare people away. I have never been rebuffed.
Nothing good happens in a vacuum. It is too easy to sit in front of crappy tv when we could be reading, and too easy keeping our mouths shut when our opinions differ from those of the people around us. I urge you to do otherwise. I urge you to grab the nettle and enter the debate. What’s the worse thing that can happen?