Once upon a time, I didn't really pay attention to everything around me. I only watched things in my own life, and not that well either. The result was that I never seemed to have anything to write about. Sure, I had my imagination for fiction but fiction is harder to market and make a living from. Non-fiction is where it's at and without observing the world around me, I was missing out on valuable article material.
A little over a year ago, I became a real writer again. It was at this time that I started really paying attention. Every thing my children said, every fight I fought with a bill collector, every weather change, and every ill remark from my mom, it was all fodder for an article or story. I now look at the world in a whole new light.
As I try to make myself fall asleep each night, my mind whirls with ideas for new articles and stories. Just yesterday, I had the funniest conversation with a gentleman who works for our satellite service. My service was off and come to find out, my payment hadn't been received. Even though I had sent it well over two weeks ago, there was obviously a problem with the mail - again!
The employee commented that he believes aliens have stolen mail because so many are calling with this problem and even he has had mailing problems. When I hung up the phone, I still didn't have service but I had notes from my holding times and from the conversation itself. In fact, I had even taken a note on a cute article I could write due to the interruption of my daughter (because everyone knows that kids come out of the woodwork when parents are on the phone).
On a much-dreaded trip to the grocery store the other day, my oldest child accompanied me. The store wasn't too crowded but I hate to go anyway. But when I am there, I pay attention. I watch how other people react and what kinds of foods they buy. These are all details that I like to use in my fiction. Plus, with my son who is also a writer being there, we had great fun. Not only did we talk about details together, we also goofed off - loudly. It was even better to catch the reactions of fellow shoppers this way. My son began taking notes on the back of the grocery list. Some people acted embarrassed for us while others smiled as if they could careless. What did we get from that trip? Groceries, some fun one-on-one writer time, human details for fiction, and a humorous article describing the fun between mother and child who abandon all care for what the world thinks.
Every event in my life is an idea. Every detail I come across can be worked into my writing. From the smallest happening (walking to the mailbox) to the largest (a death in the family), these are all the things every writer should pay attention to. Take notes of the cute things your children do (no matter what their age); of the remarks made by those you don't even know; of the reactions people make to you or others; to everything! Ideas surround you and if you aren't paying attention and taking notes, you're missing out.