Once a week, for example, you could schedule a treasure hunt on the Internet or in newspapers and magazines. Once you start looking for unusual story material, you won't be able to stop!
Here's how it works:
You picked up a shell on the beach or in a hobby shop. The inner layers of the shell and its different textures and colors could remind you of the many moods of your friend Sally… how her complexion is colored by her moods. If she’s happy, her cheeks are rosy; if she’s sad, her face is pale, etc. Each aspect of the story could have a different way of unfolding.
Maybe you’re inspired by the way the shell spirals around itself and the fact that at one time a living creature used that shell as its home. (The shell itself is living creature, is it not?) What did that life look like? Your story may construct spirals around its theme like the shell spirals around itself… and so on.
Once it becomes clear that everything in the world is connected, whenever you sit down to write, you will start to go on yet another treasure hunt to seek out those connections. Metaphors and similes will become second nature to you as you get used to creating relationships and finding similarities.
Symbols will start to pop into your writing when you see how profoundly you can use them for expressing these magical relationships between words, objects, people, events and circumstances.
Plan a quiet time when you can sit comfortably with a notebook and pen. Jot down whatever enters your mind: phrases, scraps of conversation, ideas for stories, articles, poems, novels…
Tear off these notebook pages and place them in your Idea Dishpan.
If anyone wants to know what abundance is, you can show them your Dishpans. You’re just brimming with ideas and material! For you, writer’s block is like ice cream on a stick: words melting into your mouth, the chocolate shell breaking loose and slobbering all over your shirt front… Do you remember the first time you ate ice cream on a stick? Now there’s a story… right?!
Panning for gold, like writing, can become a way of life. Liberate yourself from outlines and plans and all the other formal instructions delivered in “writing courses.” Later, when you have an idea that requires form and structure, these tools may come in handy… or maybe not. The goal is to stay fertile, fiery and free—at all costs.