So I was on the subway.
The woman sitting next to me on my mainly empty car had a great reusable water bottle. My problem with most water bottles is leakage: I am very careful about finding one with a tight seal that isn’t too heavy. The water bottle she was holding looked perfect.
I asked her if she got it off Amazon.
She looked scared to answer me. She grunted a word. She looked confused as to why I was asking her a question.
Why would someone not want to answer a simple, honest question?
I realize that I am a person who tends to where headphones everywhere so that I don’t need to engage in conversation. I admit that I am the person who will be wholly absorbed in a book when she is on mass transit and don’t want to be disturbed. I know I am all kinds of anti social.
Something about this young woman made me think of none of those things. Something about the way she handled herself didn’t feel natural. Something about her reaction seemed off. It started to make me think.
You can now see why mass transit is my greatest source of inspiration. And my greatest source for overthinking.
The wheels in my head begin to turn as I now considered this person a “character”.
Why would she act this way? What’s her motivation behind her behavior? What’s her background?
As the 2 train rambled on its way to Eastern Parkway, I began to develop a story in my head. I made up an occupation, administrative assistant, based on her blandly semi professional pants and shirt. Stressed about something, by her slightly chewed nails. She just walked out of her generic office job in a huff. She’s mad at her co worker who stole her idea. She nicked that persons water bottle as she left the office. She’s going home to cool off in her tragically unhip apartment in her tragically unhip neighborhood of Brooklyn which seems to have passed by on the gentrification train…
I get to the Botanic Garden, my second greatest spot for inspiration and overthinking, take out my trusty pink notebook, and write all about this character I made up in my head, based on one tangible thing: a woman, in ill fitting clothes and ragged cuticles gave me an odd response to a question. I let my imagination give me the rest.
I may not ever use the character I created that day. But I had a lot of fun writing a brief character description and some lines of dialogue. That’s the joy of writing for me: sitting down with my notebook or my computer and just putting words on a page. I do it for me, not for some greater goal or good. I just like to think of the who, what, where, when and how. I just like to write.
I love it when I come across something in my day to day that inspires me. Ideas don’t have to be loud and splashy- they can be subtle as well. I think sometimes when we get in a writing rut we forget that stories can begin with a whimper, and end with a bang. I think we forget that what appears mundane can be the start of a thrilling adventure… I think we forget that we just need a start. That it doesn’t really matter what the inspiration- anything can be a great story if properly told. But we only learn how to properly tell anything by practice…
Anything in your life can be a writing prompt. Use it. Write it. Or draw it. Or whatever way you choose to express your creativity.
Just get out there. Look around. Get inspired.