Everything I do is influenced by other … stuff. “There is nothing new under the sun” is a cliché because it is true. I could easily fill a book with ideas triggered by outside inspirations; in fact, I am filling a book with those ideas.
One example: two scenes from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon,” a scene from the TV show “Jane and the Dragon,” a scene from the TV show “Bones,” my knowledge of physics, and multiple influences from other sources I cannot even remember came together to create one sequence in my story.
I was sitting in the dark, as I do every evening, letting my mind run free as I talked to myself about ideas. My alpha waves began to flow and my right-brain became hyper-active creating links between seemingly unrelated pieces of knowledge, experiences, and memories. An instant of magic created the spark of an idea for this sequence. My left-brain then took that idea and manipulated it, refined it, edited it to create the sequence that went into my story.
While I believe some truly original thoughts do occasionally occur somewhere within the swarm of humans that populate the earth, most new ideas are just new connections between old ideas.