I once took a fiction writing class where the teacher advised us to carry a notebook with us at all times; he said that we should jot down interesting things that we observed or thought about in our daily routine. That way, we could go through our notes later and see if any of our observations could be used in a story.
So I've been jotting down certain things in my journal that I've been thinking about and observing. Here are a few examples:
1. Quoting from Dr. Seuss does not make you attractive to members of the opposite sex, at least not once you reach adulthood. Neither does plagiarism. I wrote a post recently about the weird things that people write in their online dating profiles. I actually created a document on my computer where I've been cutting and pasting copies of some of the weirdest or most disturbing profiles that I've seen; this file is now several pages long.
One of the matches that chemistry.com sent me did not include any information in the section of the profile where he was supposed to describe himself, except for a brief excerpt from Green Eggs and Ham, and I quote: "I do not like green eggs and ham I do not like them Sam I am." This guy then went on to quote a few other lines from the book. I shouldn't say "quote", because he didn't actually cite the book. Plagiarism is one of my pet peeves (not just when people plagiarize my own writing (and that has happened before, but that's another story) but also when I see evidence of how other people have stolen writing from other people's work. Maybe it's because I'm a writing teacher. Or maybe it just bothers me that a guy like that one can't come up with anything original to say about himself, except maybe that he doesn't like green eggs and ham. Or maybe that the last book he read was by Dr. Seuss.
2. Just because you're drunk at 2 A.M., doesn't mean I have to know about it. I live on a street where my neighbors come home drunk on a regular basis. How do I know that they're drunk? Because I wake up in the middle of the night to hear them yelling stuff like, "Gosh, it's so DARK out! Can you believe it gets THIS DARK at night?" and "I am SO calling in sick tomorrow! YEAH!" and "HOW could you flirt with that girl right in front of me? I would've thrown my beer at you if I wasn't already drinking it, jerkface!"
3. Maybe I should leave it to the experts, or at least read the instructions first. I wrote this down after I unsuccessfully tried to mend one of my shirts that had holes in it. (I'm pretty broke right now so I can't afford to buy new clothes that often.) I don't know how to sew, so I thought I'd look up the directions on how to mend clothes online. I ended up with bloody fingers because I kept jabbing my hands with the needle and then the blood kept getting onto my shirt. Maybe I should have read through all the instructions, rather than follow them as I read them. Now I have a shirt with holes AND spots of blood on it. I guess when I can't wear certain clothes in public, it really is time to buy new ones.
When I reread all the things that I'd written down in my journal, one thing that kept coming up again and again was online dating. Even if I don't succeed in finding Mr. Right, maybe I can succeed in writing about my search for true love. Every time I come home from a less-than-great date or I read yet another profile that makes me want to hurl my computer out the window, I write down more stuff about what I feel and what I've experienced so far. Even though the whole dating process hasn't been making me very happy lately, the thought that I could use my experiences and my observations as material for a good story (or possibly more than one) definitely makes me happy. And then I start writing again.
What kinds of things do you do when you're looking for inspiration?