5 Ways To Gain Inspiration While Shopping

January 25, 2010 at 5:38 am (Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , )

Grocery shopping that is. How can writers use this mundane experience to inspire themselves?

1.  Looking at all products. Normally when you shop you only look at the items you intend to buy but sometimes you can find the strangest things just by looking a little to the left of the item you were going to buy. Then you start to wonder who is buying it and what they are using it for and it can really help get you thinking.

2.  Conversation. While buying meat at the deli or asking for assistance, and certainly while waiting to pay, there are lots of people you can strike up a conversation with fairly quickly.

3.  Setting. Everyone (almost) has to go to the grocery shop at some stage (assuming your story is set in the real world). What could happen in the grocery shop that would be interesting enough to end up in your story?

4.  Advertising. Advertising is always inspiring, even if it isn’t inspiring you to buy. Seeing language used for deliberate purposes (successfully or not) in bright colours can really start your brain moving.

5.  Car park encounters. If the grocery shop didn’t inspire your writing then any number of incidents in the car park might. Did someone steal “your” spot? Did you steal someone else’s? Did someone bump your car and not leave a note? Is the child really throwing a fit in the middle of the drive way? All sorts of incidents that might inspire you.

How do you use your trip to the local store to inspire your writing?



  1. Melonie said,

    Now this is different. I’ve never, ever thought of milling around in the grocery store as anything but annoying. You’ve redeemed the entire experience. I think when I go today, I will imagine what certain characters from my story would be after.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I have to admit, I tend to day dream while shopping so it usually takes me forever because I’m planning stories in my head and just walk straight past things that I need. This was my attempt to focus on the shopping itself.

  2. AlexJ said,

    Interesting idea!
    Since I write sci-fi, I could use it to decide what would be different in my settings. What would the people of my world eat?

  3. Carol Kilgore said,

    Never look at all the products because I’m usually in a hurry. And I don’t like shopping. But I have done the others. Maybe next time I’ll stop to look. Sounds promising, so thank you.

  4. uninvoked said,

    You can find inspiration anywhere, if you really look for it.

    Challenge: Try to find writing inspiration while on the toilet. 😉

  5. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    Great advice, Cassandra! I’m tweeting it.

    I get lots of character bits from shipping trips. Sometimes I get great names there, too! And bits of dialogue. Lots of inspiration from the grocery store!

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think anywhere there are people you can find something inspiring as a writer.

  6. Carol J. Garvin said,

    There’s the potential for inspiration everywhere if we’re willing to look. My grocery shopping excursions are usually hurried and I just want to get out of the store as quickly as possible. Mind you, the MC in my last novel first met his future wife while grocery shopping… and that was a turning point since he’d assumed he was gay! (Enuff said. It’s a long story, which is why it turned into a novel.) So thanks for reminding me to add my supermarket as a source of story material.

  7. Paul Greci said,

    Great reminder. There is potential material for stories everywhere. What we see or hear might spark an idea but it’ll never happen unless we are open to it. Thanks again for the reminder to see the world thru writer eyes. It is so easy to forget.

  8. Jemi Fraser said,

    Great post! I love looking at life and trying to give it a twist. This post will help 🙂

  9. Siggy said,

    There is no doubt inspiration to write can come from anywhere. It is just a question of keeping your mind and body open to suggestion. There is no end of material. If you feel there is, you need to shift your attention somewhere else temporarily. The universe is infinite in the words of Thoreau (from Walden); ‘Nothing is greater than to reawaken the sense of the dawn which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep…’ There are constant cycles we go through and each person has to learn what to do when they become jaded–how to see everything afresh again. Each person has to learn this. And there are no rules.

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