I have always been envious of song writers. Once upon a time I heard (I think it was in a movie) that people who write songs feel things differently than everyone else. Honestly, I don't really see it being any different than poetry, but that's another thing that I have a hard time understanding. So why do I envy them their skill? Because they can take something so mundane and make it known in a way that everyone feels. One of my new favorite songs is "Numbers" by Hurt. They have been one of my favorite bands since I was first introduced to them with the song "Rapture." Why? Their sound is just so raw. You can feel the emotion. Its something you get when the one singing is the one who wrote it. You can just feel how much this guy has been through.
Someone once asked me where I come up with my ideas for my stories. Where did I find inspiration? My answer has always been the same. I find it everywhere. What kind of writer would I be if I didn't take the time to study the world around me? I had even written a story based on my kids once. It was short, but you could see what I saw. The kids had been playing on the jungle gym and were off to save the baby.
My favorite muse has to be me. My subconcious comes up with some wonderful things when I'm sleeping. Lately I have even been trying to find a way to induce nightmares so I could come up with some unbelievable monster. So far, no luck.
People have a tendency to be oblivious to the things that go on around them. There is so much out there. When's the last time you were just sitting there and found something interesting? When is the last time you went to the park and saw a squirrel fighting with a bird over food? Or almost saw an accident? When was the last time you took a moment and daydreamed? These are important things. Not only do they give you ideas for a storyline, but they allow you to come up with great background. Maybe your main character decides to get her hair cut. The best thing you can do to make it believable is to pay attention at your next appointment.
Today, I put my body through hell. I didn't sleep last night. I went to work, blaring the music as loudly as I could so that I couldn't hear myself singing at the top of my lungs. Why? So I would stay awake through the drive, of course! It was on my way back home that I was hit with sudden inspiration. I was coming up beside a semi in town on the highway. Speed limit was 45mph, but he was only doing 40. We were both going around a curve in the road when I came up on the driver's side. I was equally close to the front and the back of the rig when he started drifting over into my lane. What did I do? I was holding the steering wheel like it was a life raft. My heart was pounding and my eyes got wide. I had started thinking about how I was going to hop the curb and drive onto the median if he was really changing lanes with me right there. kThe one thought that honestly never went through my mind was "HONK!" It made me think about characters. How would a character handle that kind of situation? Would they even panic the way I did?
I guess the point I'm trying to make, is you need to look at a story in pieces. You can find inspiration for any one of those peices, whether it be something that makes you think of character, or the way the clouds looked after the storm finding a way into your setting, or a dog digging a hole finding its way into your plot. Inspiration is all around you.