Stuck on your current WIP? Devoid of original thought? Used the same details five times in a ten-page span? It's time to restock your Idea Cupboard. Here's a few ideas to get you started.
- Listen to sports commentators. Many people turn them off in order to fully appreciate the sport playing out on the screen but, while occasionally irritating (like when they talk so much and so earnestly you can't hear the music so carefully chosen by the figure skaters), they are a gold mine of juicy tidbits: old scandals you may have missed the first time around, personal facts about the athletes and nuances of the rule book a casual fan likely wouldn't know. Right now is an especially rich time to do this, with the Winter Olympics bringing numerous sports together under one broadcasting roof.
- Sit in a courtroom. Whether you're allowed to be there varies from case to case (some are closed to the public); make sure to check before slipping into a seat at the back of the room. You'll have a chance to absorb not only the contents of the case (which can be fascinating or deadly dull), but the interactions and mannerisms of lawyers and judges. It's the person, not the profession, which defines behavior: note how it varies and affects the proceedings. This experience will also redefine your perception of legal matters, particularly if your main frame of reference thus far has been the umpteen legal dramas on TV.
- Eavesdrop, with a twist. Join forces with a local writer friend for this one. You'll each need a notebook. For a week, jot down daily observations - things you overhear on the bus, what you notice out the window while you're waiting for your child after school, the song lyrics your next door neighbor is belting out from the shower - and, at the end of that week, trade notebooks. Continue your observations; however, you also now have a week's worth of fresh, delicious morsels to ladle into your WIP when you get stuck. Keep trading the notebooks regularly; change up the time frame if you need to. This can be a particularly rewarding exercise if one of you travels with the notebook in tow.
How do you fill the well when it runs dry?
Want eighteen more ways to restock your idea cupboard? Have I got the resource for you!