Dealing With Brain Farts

A typical Wal-Mart discount department store.Image via Wikipedia

Life is often stranger than fiction. If ever you need inspiration, you don’t need to look any further than just beyond your front door. If you’ve read “A Trip To Wal*Mart” (link on the bar thingy up there ^) then you know what I’m talking about.

When I’m stuck for inspiration (I refuse to call it a “writer’s block”… it’s a Brain Fart, pure and simple) I’ll go on a “People Scan”. This is usually done in person, and not via the internet. As a writer, it’s oh-so-easy to get caught up in the internet world, and oh-so-easy to lose touch with what’s going on outside of it, and the Muse is a hungry wench. She needs to be fed copious amounts of information, so she can then masticate, and spit out something that might be fit for excavation and renovation.

A walk through Wal*Mart is one way, but there are several ways to stock your Cupboard of Inspiration. The great thing about a People Scan is you can do it from anywhere and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Go to a park on a sunny day, and sit on a bench (or the grass, if you’re the nature type) with a notebook and a pen. Let your mind wander around aimlessly while you sketch notes to yourself for future reference. Hang around your local coffee shop (many of whom have free wi-fi) and pay attention to the people who are also hanging. Observe. Absorb. Take lots of notes.

Listen to people. Listen not only to what they are saying, but how they say it. What are their mannerisms, how do they dress, how do they interact with other people? How about the staff – there’s usually a whole lot of drama behind the scenes, but even if you’re not privy to that, you can make drama up – that’s what you do, you’re a writer. See that lady over there with three big shopping bags ordering a Caramel Latte and a raspberry scone? What’s in the bags? Why is she sweating? Does she have credit problems, is she on the lam from the law, is she married? Ask yourself these (and many more) questions, and write down the answers. Describe her blond hair, cut in the latest style, or her chic clothes, maybe noticing the freshly manicured nails.

The possibilities are endless – inspiration in every person you see. The trick is to see them, and pay attention to what you see. Whether your writing is fiction or non-fiction, it’s all fueled by what you observe and experience. Keep your eyes open, your pen at the ready, and consider – while you’re watching them…they may also be watching you.

Today’s Quote, courtesy of Quote Garden: “Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.” ~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957

Tune in tomorrow for an exclusive interview with a Flash Fiction Goddess.

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6 thoughts on “Dealing With Brain Farts

  1. Recently I was with a friend who is a gifted interior designer. We shared how we both look at the world differently than other people. No matter where I am – no matter where – my eyes always see a story. I could post a dozen essays every day if I was disciplined. It’s an occupational hazard of sorts when I get lost in my observations. I might find myself not as attentive to a conversation as I should be. Or I will burst out laughing at the oddest moments. My friend the designer looks at the world differently because of all the colors and shapes she encounters all day long. I also have a close friend who is a psychiatrist. A long time ago I observed that we never have idle conversation – girl talk. I can see her transforming into the brilliant psychiatrist she is as I chatter away. It’s an occupational hazard for her, too. I once told her that I feel guilty, but she considers her observational talents a gift she can share with friends. Ya know, come to think of it, I bet this happens with all sorts of occupations and careers, but I think with writers, it’s unrelenting – that ceaseless power of observation, and thank goodness! Thanks for the brain stretch!

    Reenies last blog post..Music to my Ears

  2. i love to people watch, lala. i’m quite the closet stalker — heh!

    you’re right, reenie, it is an occupational hazard and it is unrelenting. i think that’s why so many writers are hermits, you know? it can be wearing at times. thanks so much for stopping by!

    hi laketrees! thanks so much for your kind words…i think it applies to all the arts. it’s the mindset, you know? appreciate you stopping by. 🙂

  3. this is all very good advice. and fun, too. i’m always people watching, even when i don’t realise it. enjoy every moment cos you just never know what it might teach/show us.

  4. I got to thinking – can you even imagine being a plastic surgeon? :)))))

    Yup. I think you are on target. We become hermits because of the overload. EVERYTHING becomes a potential element in a story. I really liked this post, Nets.

    Okay. Still running like a crazy lady – will get the links up later tonight. You and lala are way too cool. xoxo

    Reenies last blog post..Music to my Ears

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