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Virtual Inspiration

A common piece of advice for writers is to pay close attention to the physical world around them. Everything from snippets of conversations heard in a coffee shop line-up, to the fabric of the jacket being worn by someone in a meeting, to the feel of a small beach rock in your hand, to the lines of a sailboat against the deep orange of a sunset… can find their way into stories, enriching them with authentic detail. The world around us is full of inspiration, as I’ve mentioned before in my note about buttons.

I would also advise people to pay close attention to the virtual world –– if things like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, which have now become such an integral part of our lives, can really be called ‘virtual’ any longer.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen a young man walk on the runway in Paris… learned how someone broke the same elbow twice, 30 years apart, on a hill in St. John’s with jelly-bean colored houses… watched Land Rovers being rebuilt in the UK… been sent down memory lane by the image of a dog guarding a lego-covered floor… laughed aloud at completely spontaneous banter… celebrated the news that ‘it’s a boy’… and cheered on a strong and beautiful woman who marked her one-year anniversary at a fitness club.

The images, the situations, the language and the humor… these can be wonderful sources of inspiration. Just because you’re seeing these things from the convenience of your own monitor, doesn’t mean they have to be any less of an inspiration than items in the physical world. It depends on how you look at them. It depends on how you value them.

One final suggestion for today… this time a trick to liven up your writing-practice. Scan your Facebook page or some Twitter feeds. Find a post or tweet that interests you and turn it into a first sentence. Then fill the page, and if you feel like it, fill another.