In your busy days, treasure those moments of contemplation – waiting for a red light to change, stuck in a queue that is not moving, early for an appointment. These precious moments can fuel your creative impulse, so notice them, and use them.
Stare at a crowd, select one person, and imagine ‘What if …?’ Observe others around you, and imagine what that person has just done, where he or she is hurrying now, and what will happen next.
The rough character on a park bench – is he the estranged grandfather of the little girl in the playground, watching her sadly from a distance? Or is he a drug courier, disguised, waiting for his contact? Was he once the CEO in the office block opposite the park? Or is he in love with the soup kitchen volunteer who will open the Soup Kitchen shortly?
That harried young mother – is she under witness protection, and isolated from her usual supportnetworks? Or has she abducted the child in her arms? Has she just received a grim medical diagnosis? Or news of a large inheritance? Is she on her way to a job interview? Or her weekly interview with her parole officer?
That elderly woman feeding the pigeons – is she secretly poisoning the birds, testing the efficacy of the substance before she feeds it to her husband? Or is she giving the birds the only scrap of food left in her pantry. Is her lumpy shopping trolley full of shop-lifted booty? Or does it contain all her wordly possessions? Is she the fond grandmother of sixteen children? Or is she the last living member of her immigrant family?
The people you pass every day, strangers in the street, travellers at the airport or train station, even the driver in the car alongside you at the traffic lights – they are all possible starting points for your creative leaps into fiction.
Anything is possible. As the Creative Director of your stories, you hold all the power. So make radical decisions, give your characters mad or sensible motivations and dreams, impulses and obsessions, failings and secrets.
Let your creative mind roam free; it matters not if you never actually develop these ideas into stories, the point is simply to practice, to exercise your creativity. Think of your creative impulse as a slightly unhinged poorly-trained dog – excitable, inclined to run off after anything that moves. By training it, by gently controlling and guiding it at every opportunity, by playfully exercising it, you will soon find your creativity is your loyal and inspirational companion, and not a wayward unpredictable visitor.
It is not a matter of waiting for the right moment for your creativity to kick in; for a writer, the writing moment is always right now.