Where, oh where, are the writing ideas?

I’m often asked where I get my writing ideas. The honest-to-goodness answer is quite simply: everywhere. Look around you: everything is a story. Everything has its own innate beauty and tale. Everywhere you can see evidence of good versus evil, humanity versus nature.

People-watching is a great trigger. Step away from yourself for just an instant when you’re at the grocery store (that shopping cart can wait two minutes, I promise!) and notice the people around you. Are they talking? Growing as they pick up a can of green beans? Shushing unruly children? Getting into a lover’s spat in the frozen foods aisle? What’s that man thinking as he gazes upon the steaks? Is he cooking up a special meal for his sweetheart?

Curiosity goes a long way and can spark some exciting new creative ideas.

Another great trick is what I call Open Road Liberation—when you get behind the wheel of your car, put on some nice distracting escapist music and let your mind go free. Marvel at the skyline as you navigate traffic. Imagine those storm clouds aren’t rolling in over your suburb but over some rustic paradise. Allow your imagination to soar, to help you escape and embrace that beautiful what if.

When I was editor of a tiny community newspaper in a remote mountain village, old friends from the big city would ask whether I was bored because no “big news” ever happened there. Au contraire—ideas were everywhere: investigative pieces about environmental impact on the tiny town, features about the old man who nurtured honeybees or the young woman who grew apples on her family’s farm.

Ideas are everywhere: just pluck one and watch it grow.