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From books to blogs to FAQ’s, I see the follow question a lot, “How do I generate writing ideas?”

Since I personally don’t feel this is a challenge — outside of making sure it’s a “good” idea, which is another blog — I figured I’d demonstrate one way I do this from real life experiences.

This past week I traveled to New York & New Jersey for work. Some images or people that stood out to me can be used as possible story content:

  • Landing in Newark International Airport and looking out the window to a flat landscape of industrial city below, dusted in patches of white as far as I could see.
  • The view of the Atlantic Ocean from the airplane was that of vast, unending expanse of featureless grey.
  • One new co-worker I met, stands out from the crowd. He’s an Indian Sikh, with full beard and a different colored turban each day. But what makes him really stand out in a room of forty white Americans is that he doesn’t mind being the center of attention, as he cracks jokes every other minute. Think Sikh meets stand up comedian.
  • Wherever I drove, there were banks of snow. I found out that those snowbanks were from a huge storm two weeks ago. Upon closer examination, the banks of snow were now blocks of solid ice with jagged, sharp edges. The snow in some places was changed from white to black, due to splatter of road grime thrown up by passing cars.
  • The heavy set, older woman working at the departure terminal as an airline check-in clerk. She refused to break a smile and was barking orders at the “guests” who didn’t step up to the correct side of the line separating General Boarding from Preferred Boarding. Her constant dissatisfied commentary with the mass of customers in front of her, gave new meaning to the words: customer service.

Today I attended a memorial service for someone I didn’t know, but I am an acquaintance of the remaining family members.

  • The eulogy, which called out how this now passed man was a father who was often present and passed on a legacy of always being there.
  • Fond memories of a man known for often making BBQ chicken, with a crispy skin and a regular supply of ice cream for later. But too often he ate the entire gallon of ice cream by himself, leaving none for anyone else.
  • How this man’s legacy was known for his warm hugs and unorthodox grand parenting. One grand child called out how her “old” grand parents introduced here to Michael Jackson and Tina Turner music.
  • The tears of a 20-something grandchild with long curly, auburn hair who had her sister standing next to her for moral support while she shared on some of her warm, comforting memories of the now deceased.
  • How the deceased joined the Navy during WWII as a radio man, but instead found himself manning a machine gun in order to shoot down enemy planes, which threatened the ship he was on.
  • The indecision on my part if it was bad etiquette to go up for seconds during the “lunch buffet” or not.
  • My 10 year old daughter hugging me as we sang in unison, “My Old Rugged Cross”; a song she had never heard before (regardless of the hundreds of country song versions) nor understands the history behind the song.
  • My daughter telling me I’m the best dad in the world. Here words were like a shot of whisky going down; warming my insides and filling me with joy.

I don’t take a lot of pictures of my friends, family or places I go. But as an exercise, we writers can take a snapshot in time of our experiences and use it for memories and/or use it as the foundation for writing more words to paper.

Don’t know what to write about? Need ideas?

Capture those life images and feelings, daily.

Now go write!

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