What's it like for you? For me it's like being struck by lightning. One second nothing, then bam! The idea is there. Usually it's a scene that rolls across the screen in the back room of my head. It's never the beginning, well once it was, but that's it. Then more scenes start following, never in order, come on, that would make my life too simple and we can't have that. So it's my job to write down the scenes and then patch them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Good thing I like jigsaw puzzles.
I'm just back from my trip to Bangkok and guess what? Yep. There was lightning in Bangkok. I was standing in our hotel room looking out the dirty windows at the even dirtier streets below and the song 'One Night In Bangkok' started playing in my head. Damn thing is still there, but that's okay because it kind of fits with the lightning. Anyway, I'm busy singing in my head because no one wants to hear me actually sing, and this guy suddenly starts talking. He's telling someone, can't see them yet, that there's probably no way to locate a missing brother. With everything that goes on in the back streets you'll never know what happened to him.
Then she appears, standing toe to toe with this guy and says she doesn't care who she had to go through she'll find her brother, dead or alive! Okay, that's interesting because I'd been thinking about how sleazy Bangkok feels, it's not just dirty it's filthy. I know it has a reputation and maybe that played into it too but that was all I had.
Then I went shopping with my friend who lives there and we were getting lunch when this guy starts chatting us up. Okay, so we're not that old but hey, we're old! Plus we've both got sizable rings on our fingers but this guys still chatting us up and that's when the second lightning strike occurred. I'm not going into details because I'm still playing with the idea and it may change shape before it's finished, oh who am I kidding, it will change shape. It always does.
So back to inspiration, it's where you find it. I'm known for such lightning strikes in the shower, which probably isn't wise with all that water but hey, you go with it. Besides there's not much choice. It can be while you doing the most mundane activity like the washing or like me while you're visiting an exotic local, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that you take advantage of it, whether using it in a new idea or fitting it into your existing wip, every little thing counts.
The best advice I can give is to write it down. I have about 6 little note books filled with little bits and pieces that have struck me at one time or another. I've used a lot of them. I'll use the rest at some point and I'm sure I'll continue to add to the books. Don't fall into the trap of thinking I'll jot it down later. Not gonna work. You'll forget. If anyone looked at my notebooks they'd swear they were written in another language, and they wouldn't be far wrong because it's my language. I have my own short hand that means I don't need to write down every word, thank god!
There are so many ways to be inspired. Music, movies, other books, even just out shopping. Next time you're out and about look at the people around you. Make up a story about them. What sort of life does the woman in the short skirt and high heels live? Is she a hooker? Maybe she's a lawyer? And what about the man over there? The one dressed in dirty jeans and holey t-shirt? Does he work construction? Maybe he's a mechanic? Or maybe he's a millionaire who hates the trappings of his wealth? See where I'm going with this?
If you have the time it's a fun exercise to think up stories for people you see. Next time you're in the line at the supermarket check out the people in front of you or even the check out chick (how sexist did that sound?), you'll be pleasantly surprised at what your mind will come up with.
So now that I've wasted your time, because you just had to read my insightful witty post, get off your butt, grab a pen and note book and head down to the local shopping center and see what you can get out of it. It actually does do more than take your money. And if you're lucky it'll help you make money.
Go forth, be inspired!
Oh, and come back and tell me how you went.