Senses Working Overtime

On a walk yesterday I mulled over the traits of a particular character I’m creating while enjoying a perfect San Francisco spring day. About half the folks I saw bustling alongside me on the sidewalks wore headphones. Writers should never, ever do this.  The sights, sounds, smells and energy of the city all feed my imagination. Yesterday, in particular, it was the snippets of overheard conversations. Here are examples of some bits and pieces: “It’s important to me to eat the meat I kill.” “…then we started tap dancing and I…” “But when he went to Tijuana…” “Frankly, it made me uncomfortable…” “My wife is an architect. She’s in another time zone.” One of these lines helped fling me over a hurdle that ground a work in progress to a halt. When I eavesdrop…er, happen to catch parts of other people’s conversations, I let my brain go wild. I play games with the fragments to piece together stories, the more outrageous, the better. Standing at the crosswalk, dreaming up a story of a vegetarian killer targeting meat-eaters in Tijuana while on tour with his tap dancing troupe, a completely unrelated inspiration blossomed. It unlocked the puzzle I’d been working through about the character in my novel. I don’t know why this works but it does. For me, at least. Maybe it’s because my subconscious takes over pulling at whatever thread frustrates me when I occupy my conscious brain with word games. All I know is that I take these walks often and rarely get “writer’s block.” This may be one of the reasons writing prompts are popular. I just happen to get mine from total strangers. Where do you get your writing prompts/inspiration? 


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