Finding Inspiration in the Everyday

by Jenny Wong

I walk the dog along the same path every morning. 

It is 930 steps and takes 10 minutes roundtrip. On one side is a busy road, a main artery that is fed by multiple communities and clogs with morning traffic.  On the other side is a suburban stretch of cookie-cutter homes.  Asphalt shingles.  Faded vinyl siding.  It is not a particularly beautiful walk and there are days when I’d love to explore somewhere new, but the dog gets touchy with a change in his routine, so there we are. 

8am.  Rain, snow, or shine.

During these everyday intervals it can be easy to tune out what goes on around us.  When I travel, I love exploring streets and finding those moments that yield a line or image I can use later on. I wondered if it was possible to create a similar experience with the morning routine.

Here are three things I’ve tried to gain a little more inspiration in the everyday:

  • Play a game.  Road trip games come to mind here.  Sometimes presenting a quick brain challenge can lead to new discoveries. 
    • Examples:
      • I spy with my little eye.  A quick exercise to focus the attention on the surroundings (try finding something green in winter…). 
      • The alphabet game. Go through the alphabet (or a subset of the alphabet) and find an item that begins with each letter. This can lead to a list of new word prompts. 
      • Fortunately/unfortunately can bring new scenarios and narratives to play with.  E.g. fortunately for the gum wrapper… unfortunately for the discarded slushie cup…
  • Change the point of view. Take a few moments and look off to the side or overhead, basically anywhere that’s not straight on. There’s much that happens along rooftops and fence bottoms.  Or grab the phone, point it in a random direction and take a picture without looking at what’s there.  Use that photo as a prompt.  Perspective is everything. 
  •  Get up close and personal. Pick an item (a fence post, tree trunk, that old convenience store receipt in the pocket) and take a few minutes to look at it up close. Really stare at it. How has it changed from its initial form?  Is there an unusual pattern or imperfection on the surface? 

Full disclosure, I don’t always come back with something new and exciting, but it’s a nudge in the right direction and gets my brain thinking more on a creative track. 

I’m learning how to abandon the autopilot and give myself permission to stop and stare when something catches my eye.

I notice more things now and they have begun to creep into my work. Garbage men. Snow melt pooling under trees. That old jacuzzi left sitting crooked in the alley. 

At the very least, I look forward to the walks a bit more and enjoy searching for those odd little sparks that might want to come home with me and become something more.

BIO: Jenny Wong is a writer, traveler, and occasional business analyst. She resides in Canada near the Rocky Mountains. but her favorite places to wander are Tokyo alleys, Singapore hawker centers, and Parisian cemeteries. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions.
Find her on Twitter @jenwithwords or on her website:

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