Do you have a pet? Write about your dog or cat or horse or gerbil. If you watch them long enough and communicate with them, they’ll tell you lots of stories.
Write a story about a good friend. Make that friend the hero or heroine of your story. If you can memorize geometry theorems, you can surely memorize your friend’s body language, mannerisms, moods, personality, physical description, speaking habits, etc. You can easily create a dialogue between the two of you.
Have you taken a trip somewhere? Do you belong to an organization that plans special events or takes outings? How about family holidays? Favorite and not so favorite relatives? Occasions that were “memorable” for good or bad reasons… Don’t forget to season your writing with humor. Dry wit works well, too.
Don't feel you have to stick to the facts. EMBELLISH. Have you ever sat around the campfire and told ghost stories? They keep getting more incredible or fantastic… right? Try this with a character description or a plot. Start with something small and keep embellishing it with colorful details. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s unbelievable. Have fun and remember, it’s fiction!
When writing non-fiction—articles, essays, research papers—if the choice is yours, i.e., if it is not an assignment or paid work, write only about something that turns you on. Writing with a passion usually drives home the work faster than the time it takes to order and pick up a pizza. And why not? You are totally focused on it because the Central Character is You, the Writer is You, and The Work is Yours.
You may have a cause; it could be saving trees, or supporting the replacement of fossil fuel with free energy… peace on earth… universal health care, etc. Gather information. Collect as much material as possible. Overwrite (write more pages than necessary) and then cut back. It’s better to have extra fat to trim off. Ultimately, less is more, but start with more.
Read the newspaper: international, national, regional news, feature section, books, sports, gardening, entertainment… whatever turns you on. Browse on the Internet and read feature articles. Read blogs. Read all kinds of material. You’ll find hundreds—thousands of crazy stories: miracles, “conspiracies,” scams, gossip—you’ll find whatever you’re looking for, believe me. Use this material as the “clothes hangers” for hanging your own “clothes” or life experiences.
"The idea is to get the pencil moving quickly… Once you've got some words looking back at you, you can take two or three—throw them away and look for
others." —Bernard Malamud
Stories really do grow on trees. Reach up, pluck one off that branch right next to your work table, and set to work.