Wordsmith Wednesday–Ten Places to Look for Inspiration

Community Thrift Store (ii)

Image by Pete Boyd via Flickr

Writer’s Digest recently released their top ten edition in which they create all kind of lists related to the world of writing. I had been thinking about discontinuing my subscription but when I received this copy, I smiled as I remembered the fun I had with last year’s issue that followed the same format.

I’m very fond of lists (OCD?). I love to make shopping lists, to-do lists…you name it. I especially like crossing things off of my to-do list. And so I thought for today’s post I would indulge myself. So here’s my “Off-the-Top-of-My-Head List for Ten Places to Seek Inspiration.

  1. Thrift shops–rummage through the remnants of other peoples’ lives. Focus on an object or let your imagination construct a scene around an object.
  2. Coffee shops or restaurants–lurk in the corner of the booth and jot down other people’s dialogues. Listen for subject and “voice.”
  3. Sitting or walking in nature–indulge in sensory description.
  4. A bus stop, train station or airport–watch people hurry about the business of life. Wonder where they are going and why.
  5. News sources–papers, radios, TV news and the Internet are ripe with snippets of news that can explode into fiction.
  6. Book Stores–in light of the closing of Border’s, we can only hope this will not become a trend. Yeah for e-books, but nothing replaces thumbing through the pages, looking at covers, luxuriating in “real” books. Look for trends and story ideas.
  7. Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook–follow conversation threads, look at ads, check out profiles. You never know where you might uncover a new character or theme.
  8. Art Museums–one of my favorites. Sit for a while in front of a piece of art. Really look at it. What would your senses perceive if you were inside the painting? How would it smell, taste, feel? What would you hear? Use the painting as the subject of a poem. Research a bit about the artist.
  9. Hospital or Doctor’s Waiting Rooms–I don’t suggest going there just to observe, but if you do have to wait, check out emotional responses of those waiting with you and try to describe them objectively. You are bound to pick up some anxiety, perhaps some sadness, relief, or impatience.
  10. Public Venues of any Sort–I wrote an entire short story once based on what I saw while waiting for a concert to begin…one of those “bring your blanket and sit on the grass things.” And the whole event, plagued by a significant thunder and lightning storm, gave me a story line.

Now it’s your turn. You might want to review the subject of “Artists’ Dates” in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Where are some of the places you go to discover your writing muse? Please share a bit with us in the comments. If you like, post something that you’ve written based on your trolling and link it in comments as well. I have limited Internet access right now, so will respond as soon as possible.¬†Thanks for joining.