Keep a notebook in which you write down things you love, things that spark your curiosity and compel your attention. From these things, you can generate story.
I’ve carried notebooks for years, but devoting one solely to this purpose had never occurred to me before. It’s not that I’ve actively avoidedÂ including things I love in my writing up til now — I’m not sure that’s actually possible for a writer to do — but to some extent, deliberately putting in stuff I’m passionate about felt like…cheating? Because it would make it too fun, not hard enough?
I know, it’s ridiculous when I say it flat out. But I’m awfully good at tying myself in knots where writing is concerned, and one of my many expert self-knot-tying techniques is to approach my work in progress with grim determination, like an assignment I have to finish, rather than with eager anticipation. (I’ve written about this before; Earbrass vs. GoshWow.)
And of course, of course, I know I’m not gonna be able to make it fun all the way through — this is a job, ass in chair, don’t wait for the muse — but goddamn if keeping a catalog of Stuff I Find ShinyAwesomeCreepyGorgeousGrimAndOtherwiseCompelling doesn’t sound, well, really cool.