I also get ideas from news articles, such as the one about the woman who was Tasered and then arrested by police because she cut in front of a line of waiting cars in the drive-thru at McDonald's and then refused to move. When I read that story, I wanted to clip that news article and show it to every person who tries to cut in front of me in line, so that I could say, "This could happen to you."
I read somewhere that when you're struggling with writer's block, you should take a break from writing and do something different, like take a walk, go out to eat, visit a museum, or watch a play. When I can scrounge up enough money for a ticket, I like to go to plays, because there are tons of theaters in Chicago that feature amazing actors; a lot of these actors make me think, "You should be starring in TV shows, not the spoiled socialites who make me want to swear off television altogether and move to an isolated cabin in the woods where there is no cable."
On the other hand, once I went to a play that got me pretty steamed; a couple of the actors were saying stuff in one of the scenes that totally misinterpreted Catholic beliefs and made all Catholics look bad. I didn't feel inspired; I wanted to walk out of the theater right then and there. I also wanted to walk right up to the actors and scream, "You're WRONG!"
There are other things that don't make me angry but make me want to grab my journal and start writing, so that I can write something that also makes other people feel happy.
One thing I've always loved to do in Chicago is sit by the lake. I like to go out to Grant Park, find a quiet place by the lake, sit out there for hours and just watch the water move and think about everything or nothing at all. It always calms me to do this, especially on days when everything else in the city drives me nuts, like my neighbors who talk on their cell phones late at night. They open their windows and talk really loudly, so that everyone else can hear their conversations.
Since my building is shaped so that my apartment is in close proximity to and faces several other apartments, I am often awoken from sweet dreams where I find out that Willy Wonka has left his Chocolate Factory to me or George Clooney has decided he does want to get married after all, and hey, it's to me! I wake up because of my neighbors' loud, shrill voices that sometimes make me wonder if they are voiceover actors for cartoons. That prompts me to throw open my window and shriek, "Sleep deprivation does NOT make me want to be your friend or even a good neighbor; it makes me want to throw things at you!"
But when I can go sit by the lake, I'm able to escape from all of that, at least for a little while. It gives me a chance to be alone with my thoughts, and it makes me feel good enough that eventually I want to go home and start writing, or take out my journal and start writing then and there. I can only sit by the lake when it's warm, though; in the winter, staring at the lake covered in ice just isn't as inspirational for me. Not to mention the heavy winter coat and thick gloves I wear make it hard to hold a pen.
Here's another example of something that inspires me. It's a clip from the film Sister Act 2 (if you watch closely, you'll see Professor McGonagall and the Ghost Whisperer - oops, I meant Maggie Smith and Jennifer Love Hewitt). I dare you not to smile when you're watching this. Every time I watch it, I can't help admiring the singers for the passion they put into their music, and it makes me remember the passion that I have for my writing. I can only hope that someday my stories will be as good as their songs.
Funny people also make me want to write, people like Conan o'Brien and Tina Fey, but especially writers like Steve Almond and Jen Lancaster. I think that humor is essential to most stories, because it helps those fictional characters walking around as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders to just lighten up already. As egotistical as it sounds, I can't help thinking how wonderful it would be if something I wrote made one of those funny people laugh. It would definitely be one of the high points of my life. It would rank right up there with my fantasy that eating chocolate and drinking Frappuccinos can actually make you lose weight. (Oh, if only!)
There's a really funny, young vlogger on Youtube who has more than two million subscribers. (Can you imagine if two million people subscribed to your blog?) His Youtube name is "Kevjumba", and he talks about everything in his videos, such as Asian stereotypes, his hilarious father, college, and dating. I like that he's kind of neurotic (always nice to find a kindred neurotic) and that he vlogs about ordinary things in imaginative ways that make them sound interesting and entertaining. And really, isn't that what writers are supposed to do?
Here's one of my favorite videos by Kevjumba:
I've written manuscripts for two chick lit novels so far (though they still definitely need to be revised). Even though I haven't found true love yet, the hope that I will find it someday makes me express that hope through my main characters as they search for the people that they're meant to be with.
My thirty-first birthday is coming up in a couple months (AAAAHHHH!!! I'm getting OLDER and I can't make it stop!), and I'm still single. It's not like I haven't tried. I went to a speed-dating party, joined a group for people my age at my church, and signed up for four online dating memberships (not all at the same time, though). Sometimes it's hard to keep hoping, because I've started to wonder if there really is someone out there for me. There are times I think that maybe I'm just not meant to be with anyone for the rest of my life, because how do we really know that there's one soul mate for each person? Maybe some people are meant to be alone because they're meant to do other things with their lives.
On the other hand, I'm able to pour all of my doubt, frustrations, and hope into my stories, and I can use weird online dating profiles that I've seen as writing prompts, such as the one that said, "If you can't get along with my cats, then it's never going to work between us." As several of you have suggested, I can also write about some of the bad dates I've been on, such as the one where the guy obviously couldn't wait to get out of there, to the point that he made up a lame excuse about ending the date early and practically sprinted away from me less than an hour after we met up for the date. It made me wonder if I was just bad at choosing dates or if there was something about me that made most guys (except for the creepy, unattractive ones) run in the opposite direction.
But chick lit novels wouldn't be much fun to read if the main characters didn't have any hope at all that they'll find the right person. So as cheesy as it sounds, sometimes I like to watch this clip from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (and can I just say that Paolo Montalban makes an excellent Prince?) and remind myself that all is not lost just yet, and that maybe there really is a great guy out there for me.
What about you? What are things that inspire you to write?